Amphibians

Amphibian is derived from the Ancient Greek term “amphibios” which means both kinds of life. It refers to animals that live both in the water and on land. Amphibians were the first vertebrates to leave the water and begin a new era of life on land. Amphibians began evolving during the age of dinosaurs, but diversified during the late Paleozoic or Carboniferous Period (354-290 million years ago).

Zion National Park is home to 6 species of frogs and toads, and one salamander. All of Zion’s frogs and toads hibernate for the winter months and all of them must return to water in order to breed. In the springtime, warmer temperatures, rain and snowmelt create the right conditions for frogs and toads to begin emerging. Zion’s amphibian habitats include: grasslands, sandy shrub lands, marshes, meadows, pools, ponds, streams, rivers, and forest.

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Canyon Tree Frog
Canyon Treefrog

Canyon Treefrog
(Hyla arenicolor)

This frog is plump and warty, with a toad like appearance. It has olive to brownish-grey skin with darker blotches present in most populations. A very distinctive feature of this frog is what appears like suction discs on each toe. Primarily nocturnal; often seen along water course. During the day it can be found hiding among rocks or in stony crevices near streams, camouflaged by its color.

 
Great Basin Spadefoot toad
Great Basin spadefoot toad

Great Basin Spadefoot
(Spea intermontana)
The Great Basin spadefoot toad is a small rotund amphibian, with gray or olive-green coloration. The large golden-yellow eyes, with cat-like vertical pupils, are set on the sides of the head. The tympana (ears) are small and not easy to see. The toads have a bump between the eyes, which gives the head a distinctive shape. Spadefoots have bumpy skin but do not look as “warty” as Western Toads. A spadefoot sitting still on the ground looks like a large pebble, so they can go undetected by a predator. Adults range from 4 to 6.5 centimeters from nose to end.

Where does the name come from? A distinctive feature of the toad is the small, black “spade” on the first toe of each hind foot. The hardened tissue helps them dig to find shelter.

 
Red Spotted Toad (Bufo punctactus)
Red Spotted Toad

Red-spotted Toad
(Bufo punctactus)
Red-spotted toads are a small flat toad with round parotoid glands, and are pale gray to brownish tan with numerous small red tubercles (wart-like bumps). They can reach up to 3 inches in length. Red-spotted toads do have parotoid glands (which can be seen as bulges behind the eyes). Amphibian skin is full of glands that not only secrete a protective mucus but also toxins. This is a defensive tactic to make them less palatable or even deadly to predators. These toads are most active at twilight.

 
Arizona Toad(Bufo microscaphus)
Arizona Toad

Arizona Toad - subspecies of the Southwestern Toad
(Bufo microscaphus microscaphus)

This is a medium-sized plump toad, olive to brown to pink, with or without dark spots. Usually has light stripe or patch on head and back. Parotoid glands are oval, and widely separated. It is a nocturnal toad that hops around. They prefer moving water, and have been found in Coal Pits Wash, Pine Creek, Oak Creek, and other side canyons in Zion up to 6000 feet in elevation.

 
Northern Leopard Frog
Northern Leopard Frog

Northern Leopard Frog
(Rana pipiens)
This slender brown or green frog has large distinctive dark spots outlined with light green or white. As a ‘true frog’, the leopard frog lives where there is a constant supply of water. This frog has raised dorosolateral folds which go down the entire back and a light stripe on the upper jaw. They are primarily nocturnal. The webbing on the feet does not extend to the end of the toes.

 
Woodhouse Toad
Woodhouse's Toad

Woodhouse's Toad
(Bufo woodhousii)
This is a fat, stout toad which can reach up to 5 inches long. The snout is quite short and on the back there are long oval shaped parotoid glands. There is a long cream colored stripe down its back, which can be very faint as well. They have dark red spots which are outlined by an even darker color. Like the spadefoot toad it survives the driest of weather by burrowing underground. On each hind foot is a hard rubbery knob which helps it dig quickly when needed. They generally emerge after heavy rainfall.

 
Tiger Salamander
Tiger Salamander

Tiger Salamander
(Ambystoma tigrinum)
This is the world’s largest land-dwelling salamander. It is stoutly built, with a broad head and small eyes. Color and pattern extremely variable-large light spots, bars, or blotches on dark background or network of spots on lighter background. There are tubercles on soles of the feet. Often seen at night after heavy rains, especially during breeding season; they live beneath debris near water or in crayfish or mammal burrows. They are voracious consumers of earthworms, large insects, small mice, and amphibians

Last updated: November 25, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Zion National Park
1 Zion Park Blvd.
State Route 9

Springdale, UT 84767

Phone:

(435) 772-3256
Staffed daily from 9 am - 12 noon. Recorded information is available 24 hours a day. If you are unable to reach someone by phone, please email us at zion_park_information@nps.gov.

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