closeup of a brown, lumpy toad
The western toad is one of the only amphibians found in the park.


Amphibians in the desert? Yes, there are three species that have been seen here at Craters of the Moon. Each of these is uniquely adapted to the harsh environment of the sagebrush desert. The Pacific tree frog has a very short tadpole period. Tree frogs can hatch and develop into adult frogs capable of leaving the water in as little as three weeks. This is the shortest breeding time of any frog. This short period of time allows this species to breed in snowmelt puddles and then migrate to more substantial bodies of water or even hibernate for the rest of the year. Tree frogs have been observed taking advantage of snowmelt on kipukas (islands of vegetation in the lava flows) nearly two miles from permanent water.

Although Western toads are the only species of toad that has been confirmed to live at Craters of the Moon, it is likely that Great Basin spadefoot toads are found in the park as well. Western toads can be found along streams and small lakes such as Lava Lake and Carey Marsh. After several months in the water as tadpoles, the toads develop into adults and leave the water. They do not return to the water until they lay eggs in the spring. The rest of the year they spend in the moist ground underneath wooded areas along streams. Great Basin spadefoot toads are very unusual. They are able to survive drought and desert like conditions by drying out and entering a state of near death for years at a time. As the desert dries out in the early summer these toads burrow into the mud where they can actually dessicate which means most of the water will leave their bodies. This is more than hibernation the toad actually shrivels up and all metabolic activity stops (the frog begins to die). They can remain this way for over 10 years waiting for that occasional wet spring when the temporary ponds and puddles they breed in return. With the shortest breeding time of any amphibian in the world they can go from egg to adult toad in as little as two weeks if their ponds start to dry up. Just before the ponds totally dry up they burrow into the mud, go to sleep and shrivel up starting the whole process over.

Several other species of frogs and salamanders have been reported in the park but their presence has not been confirmed.


Select a Park:

Select a Species Category (optional):

List Differences

Search results will be displayed here.

Visit NPSpecies for more comprehensive information and advanced search capability. Have a suggestion or comment on this list? Let us know.

Last updated: November 18, 2023

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
1266 Craters Loop Road
P.O. Box 29

Arco, ID 83213


208 527-1300

Contact Us