Frogs and Toads

The most common amphibians in the park are the canyon treefrog (Hyla arenicolor), red-spotted toad (Anaxyrus punctatus), and Woodhouse's Rocky Mountain toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii). These are all riparian (streamside) species which rely on the Colorado River and its perennial tributaries in the park for breeding, since their egg-masses and tadpoles are water-bound. Although these common species require water sources, they are far more tolerant of desiccation than most other amphibians. Red-spotted toads have been found as far as one-half mile from the nearest known water source.

Northern leopard frogs (Rana [Lithobates] pipiens), which are also riparian species, are native but very rare to the Colorado River corridor. Efforts to reintroduce this species, which experienced population declines following the building of Glen Canyon Dam, are currently underway.

 
The Great Basin spadefoot (Spea intermontana) is a common species to the coniferous forests on the rim of the Grand Canyon. They live near moist grasslands near ponds or near stock tanks on the North Rim and are found in more mesic habitats on the South Rim. The Great Plains toad (Anaxyrus cognatus) may also be found in rim forests but is rare and seldom seen.
 
Canyon Tree Frog
canyon treefrog (Hyla arenicolor)

Canyon Treefrog

  • The canyon treefrog is a relatively small frog (about 2.2) inches. It has large adhesive toe pads for climbing trees and rocks.
  • Tadpoles can be gray, tan, or olive, and develop a gold coloration as they mature into adult frogs.
  • Resides in perennial or intermittent streams within the canyon and sometimes mixed conifer woodlands. They are often found near the water's edge where they feed on a number of small invertebrates such a beetles, caddisflies, and true bugs.
 
Woodhouse's-Toad2
Woodhouse’s Rocky Mountain toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii)

Woodhouse's Rocky Mountain Toad

  • The largest toad of the common species in Grand Canyon, the Woodhouse's toad can grown up to 5 inches in length. It can be distinguished from other toads as well by its tough, warty skin.
  • It has oblong paratoid glands on the back of the head and a prominent cranial crest between the eyes.
  • It prefers areas with permanent still water but is occasionally found near cattle tanks.
 
Red-spotted-Toad2
Red-spotted toad (Anaxyrus punctatus)

Red-spotted Toad

  • The red-spotted toad can be up to 3 inches in length.
  • Tadpoles are black or dark brown with metallic flecks and they develop into pale gray to tan with small red or yellowish-red warts.
  • They have a flattened head and body and round glands at the back of the head behind the eyes that are about the same size as the eyes. These parotoid glands secrete a milky alkaloid substance to deter predators.
  • They are found often in rocky areas near streams.
 

Facts about Frogs and Toads:

  • Breeding red-spotted toads will engage in wrestling matches during the breeding season to resolve territorial disputes.
  • Woodhouse’s toad and red-spotted toads have been known to hybridize.

 

Related Information

Amphibians of Grand Canyon NP (74kb PDF File) Updated August 2014

Grand Canyon Vertebrate Animal Species List (223kb PDF File)

Grand Canyon Threatened & Endangered Species List (52kb PDF File)

Arizona Game and Fish Web Site

Last updated: July 22, 2015

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

Phone:

(928) 638-7888

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