13 COMMON Amphibians in Kansas (ID Guide)

Are you wondering what amphibians you can find in Kansas?

common amphibians in kansas

 

This is a great question! Although amphibians are widespread, they can be challenging to locate. Most amphibians, including frogs, toads, and salamanders, are secretive and shy. But in my opinion, looking for amphibians is a really fun experience!

 

Below you will find a list of the most COMMON and interesting amphibians that live in Kansas. In addition, you will find detailed pictures, along with range maps for each species to help with your identification!

 

 

13 Types of Amphibians That Live in Kansas:


#1. American Bullfrog

  • Lithobates catesbeianus

Types of amphibians in kansas

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adult body lengths range from 3.6 to 6 inches.
  • Coloration is typically olive green, with some individuals having gray or brown spots.
  • Fully webbed back feet.

 

The American Bullfrog is one of the largest amphibians in Kansas!

 

Believe it or not, they can grow to weigh as much as 1.5 pounds (.7 kg). Bullfrogs can be found in permanent bodies of water, including swamps, ponds, and lakes.

American Bullfrog Range Map

american bullfrog range map

Green: native range. Red: introduced range.

 

Bullfrogs eat just about anything they can fit in their mouth and swallow! The list of prey includes other frogs, fish, turtles, small birds, bats, rodents, insects, crustaceans, and worms. I have personally witnessed one even trying to eat a baby duck!

 

 

They are named for their deep call, which is thought to sound like a bull bellowing.

 


#2. Northern Leopard Frog

  • Lithobates pipiens

species of amphibians in kansas

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 2 to 4.5 inches long.
  • Smooth skin is green, brown, or yellow-green with large dark spots.
  • Lighter-colored raised ridges extend down the length of the back.

 

You can spot these amphibians in northern Kansas near slow-moving bodies of water with lots of vegetation. Northern Leopard Frogs are easy to see in or near ponds, lakes, streams, and marshes. I love how bright green most individuals appear!

Northern Leopard Frog Range Map

northern leopard frog range map

Due to their fairly large size, these amphibians eat various foods, including worms, crickets, flies, small frogs, snakes, and birds. In one study, a bat was even observed being eaten!

 

During the spring breeding season, the males will float in shallow pools emitting a low call thought to sound like snoring. However, the Northern Leopard Frog may also make a high, loud, screaming call if captured or startled.

 

Northern Leopard Frog populations are declining in many areas, and the cause is not exactly known. It’s thought to be a combination of habitat loss, drought, introduced fish, environmental contaminants, and disease.

 


#3. Spring Peeper

  • Pseudacris crucifer

spring peeper - common amphibians in kansas

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are small and range from 1 to 1.5 inches long.
  • They’re typically tan or brown, with the females lighter in color.
  • Both males and females usually feature a darker cross or ‘X’ on their back.

 

These tiny amphibians are found in southeastern Kansas.

 

You’ll typically spot Spring Peepers on the forest floor among the leaves. However, they have large toe pads that they use for climbing trees.

Spring Peeper Range Map

spring peeper range map

You can find them in ponds and small bodies of water, where they breed and lay eggs in the spring. After hatching, the young frogs remain in the tadpole stage for about three months before leaving the water.

 

Spring Peepers get their name from their distinctive spring chorus. They’re thought to sound like baby chickens’ peeps, and they are most often heard in early spring! LISTEN BELOW!

 


#4. Gray Treefrog

  • Dryophytes versicolor

gray tree frog

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adult body lengths range from 1.5 to 2 inches.
  • Mottled gray, green, and brown coloring. Look for a whitish spot beneath each eye.
  • Bumpy skin, short snouts, and bright orange on the undersides of their legs.
  • *Gray Treefrogs are essentially identical to Cope’s Gray Treefrogs. The only way to tell the difference is to listen to their breeding calls. You can learn more by visiting this site.*

 

Chameleons aren’t the only animal that can change colors! This incredible amphibian can slowly change colors to camouflage itself and match what it’s sitting on. They can vary from gray to green or brown. It’s common for their back to display a mottled coloring, much like lichen.

 

Gray Treefrogs are ubiquitous throughout their range. You’ll spot them in various wooded habitats, from backyards to forests to swamps. Like most amphibians in Kansas, they tend to live close to a water source.

Gray Treefrog Range Map

gray tree frog range map

They stick to the treetops until it’s time to breed. Gray Treefrogs prefer to mate and lay eggs in woodland ponds without fish. They’ll also use swamps and garden water features.

 

Gray Treefrogs are easier to hear than to see.

Listen for a high trill that lasts about 1 second, commonly heard in spring and summer.

 

 


#5. Pickerel Frog

  • Lithobates palustris

pickerel frog - types of amphibians in the united states

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adult body length ranges from 2 to 4 inches.
  • Dark green-brown coloration with two rows of dark squarish spots running down its back. The underside of the hind legs is a bright yellow.
  • Females are typically darker and larger than males.

 

Like many amphibians in southeastern Kansas, Pickerel Frogs prefer cool, clear water. You can find them in ponds, rivers, lakes, slow-moving streams, and ditches.

Pickerel Frog Range Map

pickerel frog range map

Pickerel Frogs are one of the few poisonous amphibians in Kansas!

 

When attacked, they produce toxic skin irritations that can be fatal to other animals and may cause skin irritation in humans if handled. So, as you can imagine, most predators leave them alone!

 

During the breeding season, the males attract females with a low, snore-like call. Then, the females will attach egg masses to branches in cool water, where the tadpoles will spend 87-95 days before becoming frogs.

 


#6. Western Chorus Frog

  • Pseudacris triseriata

western chorus frog

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adult body length up to 1.6 inches long.
  • Smooth skin with color that varies from gray to green or brown.
  • Dark brown or gray stripes run down the back, a dark stripe from the snout through the eye, and a white stripe on the upper lip.
  • Also called the Midland Chorus Frog.

 

In Kansas, look for these amphibians in woodland ponds, marshes, swamps, meadows, and grassy pools.

Western Chorus Frog Range Map

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGSchorus frog range map - boreal, western, upland

For breeding, they try to find bodies of water without fish, including flooded fields, beaver ponds, roadside ditches, marshes, and shallow lakes and ponds. The female attaches small masses of eggs to underwater vegetation.

 

Western Chorus Frogs are secretive and nocturnal, so they can be hard to spot. Your best way to locate one is to use your ears. Listen for a unique call that is rapid and relatively short and sounds a bit like running your finger over the teeth of a comb. PRESS PLAY BELOW.

 


#7. American Toad

  • Anaxyrus americanus

common amphibians in the united states

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adult length is 2-3 ½ inches.
  • Coloring is usually brown to gray, olive, or brick red. Typically, they have patches of yellow, buff, or other light colors, with dark spots.
  • The American Toad is distinctive for its many warts present over the back and legs.

 

These amphibians are common in eastern Kansas.

American Toad Range Map:Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS

 

American Toads are found in a wide variety of habitats, including forests, prairies, and suburban backyards. They are carnivorous and mainly eat insects, worms, spiders, and slugs.

 

American Toads have a very recognizable call. Listen for a musical trilling noise that can last for 30 seconds.

 

They like to breed in shallow water, and tadpoles have an amazing defense against predators. Incredibly, their skin secretes a toxic chemical so powerful that eating one tadpole can kill a fish! And like their tadpoles, adult American Toads are also toxic to other animals.

 


#8. Great Plains Toad

  • Anaxyrus cognatus

species of amphibians in the united states

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adult length is 2-4 ½ inches.
  • Coloring is pale white to tan or olive with large, dark-colored pairs of blotches down the back. Lighter tan or white belly.
  • A crest on the head forms a “V” shape from the snout, moving outward on the head toward the back.

 

Great Plains Toads are found in temporary shallow pools, quiet streams, marshes, or irrigation ditches. They are most common in grasslands and can be found in desert brush and woodland areas.

Great Plains Toad Range Map:

 

Only a few weeks out of the year are suitable for the Great Plains Toad to feed and reproduce. Amazingly, they spend the rest of the year mostly dormant in underground burrows made by other animals.

 

Symmetrical dark splotches running down its back make this amphibian one of the easier toads to see, but you will probably hear one nearby long before you can spot it. Its call can last more than 50 seconds and is similar to a jackhammer!

 

When large groups of Great Plains Toads call, the sound can be near-deafening!

 


#9. Woodhouse’s Toad

  • Anaxyrus woodhousii

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adult length is 2 ½-4 inches.
  • Coloring ranges from gray to yellowish or olive green.
  • The belly is light tan or buff, with very few dark spots on the chest.

 

Woodhouse’s Toads are adaptable to many environments, including grasslands, deserts, floodplains, and developed areas. Interestingly, individuals that live in suburban areas will wait under street lamps to catch and eat insects attracted to the light.

Woodhouse’s Toad Range Map:

 

The most striking feature of these amphibians is their shape – they are round and stout, with short legs that look too small to support their bodies!

 

Woodhouse’s Toads have a very short call that resembles a distressed sheep’s bleat.

 


#10. Eastern Newt

  • Notophthalmus viridescens

eastern newt - common amphibians in the united states

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Larvae are aquatic and have smooth, olive green skin, narrow, fin-like tails, and feathery gills.
  • Juveniles are terrestrial and have rough, orangish-red skin with darker spots outlined in black.
  • Adults have slimy, dull olive-green skin, dull yellow undersides, darker black-rimmed spots, and a blade-like tail.

 

Eastern Newts have the most complicated life cycle of any amphibian in southeastern Kansas!

 

When they’re first hatched, they spend all of their time in the water. This larval stage lasts for two to five months. After that, they metamorphose into juvenile Eastern Newts.

 

They live in terrestrial forest habitats for two to seven years during their juvenile stage. Even though they generally remain hidden under moist leaf litter and debris, you may see them moving about on rainy days and nights, foraging insects, worms, and spiders. This is the stage of life you’re most likely to see an Eastern Newt. If you spot one, be careful – they have glands that secrete a potent neurotoxin when they’re threatened.

 

 

Finally, Eastern Newts will migrate back to a water source and metamorphose into aquatic adults, where they eat small amphibians, fish, and worms. They can live up to 15 years and spend the rest of their lives in this aquatic form.

 


#11. Eastern Tiger Salamander

  • Ambystoma tigrinum

species of amphibians in the united states

Identifying Characteristics

  • Adults range from 6 to 8 inches in length.
  • Their coloring is dark gray, brown, or black with brownish-yellow to greenish-yellow markings, ranging from large spots and stripes to small irregular shapes on the head, back, and tail.
  • This species has a thick body and neck, short snout, strong legs, and a lengthy tail.

 

These amphibians are one of the largest salamanders in northeastern Kansas.

 

Eastern Tiger Salamanders are secretive and spend much of their time underground in woods, grasslands, or marshes. You’re most likely to see them moving about and foraging on rainy nights.

 

Their diet is primarily made up of insects, worms, slugs, and frogs. However, if there’s a prey shortage, they become much less picky. They’ve been observed feeding on baby snakes, newborn mice, and small salamanders of other species. They will even cannibalize their own young in times of low food supply!

.

Although Eastern and Western Tiger Salamanders are closely related, it would be unusual to mix up these two species. First, they rarely share the same range and aren’t often seen together. Secondly, Eastern Tiger Salamanders are much larger and have a black patch on their snout.

 


#12. Western Tiger Salamander

  • Ambystoma mavortium

kinds of amphibians in the united states

Identifying Characteristics

  • Adults range from 3 to 6.5 inches in length.
  • Their coloring is greenish-yellow with black markings, ranging from large spots and stripes to small irregular shapes on the head, back, and tail.
  • This species has a thick body and neck and a short snout.

 

Western Tiger Salamanders are secretive and spend much of their time underground. You’re most likely to see these amphibians moving about and foraging on rainy nights. Their favorite hiding spots are burrows, which they can make themselves or borrow from other animals.

Interestingly, Western Tiger Salamanders have four distinct morphs as adults. Scientists classify them by whether they are aquatic or terrestrial and what they eat. For example, a typical Western Tiger Salamander eats insects and frogs, breathes above water, and spends time on land.

 

However, there is a terrestrial morph that cannibalizes other Western Tiger Salamanders! In addition, there are cannibalistic and non-cannibalistic AQUATIC morphs that have gills and breathe underwater.

The aquatic individuals are called paedomorphs, and while they are mature and able to reproduce normally, they retain a lot of the features of larval Western Tiger Salamanders. The most obvious feature is their frilly, long gills!

 


#13. Common Mudpuppy

  • Necturus maculosus

 amphibians in the united states

Identifying Characteristics

  • Adults range from 8 to 19 inches in length.
  • This species is rusty brown to gray or black with scattered bluish-black or black spots.
  • The large, bushy, red, or maroon external gills behind the flattened head make this species easy to identify.

 

Common Mudpuppies are among the most well-known amphibians in eastern Kansas.

 

These LARGE salamanders can be found in nearly any body of water, including lakes, reservoirs, ditches, and rivers. They are secretive and require habitats with lots of cover, such as boulder piles, submerged logs, tree roots, or vegetation.

 

 

Common Mudpuppies are nocturnal and spend their days hiding under rocks. They’re active at night and hunt by walking along the lake or river bottom, but they can also swim. These opportunistic feeders eat whatever aquatic organisms they can catch, including insect larvae, small fish, fish eggs, aquatic worms, snails, and even carrion.

 

In the spring, when water temperatures don’t fluctuate as much, these amphibians spend time in shallow water. However, they have been reported in water as deep as 100 feet during the summer and winter!

 


What types of amphibians in Kansas have you seen?

 

Let us know in the comments!

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