More Information About Amphibians

Mole Salamanders

Family Ambystomatidae

Salamanders in our area resemble a typical lizard in form only, with four similar-sized legs and long tail. They are seldom seen above ground and do not broadcast a breeding call like frogs and toads.

photo: John P. Clare

Long-toed Salamander
Ambystoma macrodactylum

photo: ACA, Kris Kendell

Tiger Salamander
Ambystoma mavortium

True Frogs

Family Ranidae

True frogs generally have thin, smooth skin and slim bodies with long legs that allow them to make powerful leaps. True frogs in our area have a pair of glandular ridges called dorsolateral folds that extend from behind each eye to the lower back.

photo: ACA, Kris Kendell

Northern Leopard Frog
Lithobates pipiens

photo: Twan Leenders

Wood Frog
Lithobates sylvaticus

photo: Richard D. Sage

Columbia Spotted Frog
Rana luteiventris

True Toads

Family Bufonidae

True toads in our area have dry, warty skin, and stout bodies with short legs that cause them to hop instead of leap like frogs. They also have two prominent knob-like projections (tubercles) on the underside of each hind foot that are used for digging, and a raised oval-shaped parotoid gland behind each eye.

photo: John Cossel

Boreal Toad
Anaxyrus boreas

photo: Jack Goldfarb

Great Plains Toad
Anaxyrus cognatus

photo: Douglas R. Collicutt

Canadian Toad
Anaxyrus hemiophrys


Family Hylidae

The boreal chorus frog is the only species of the Hylidae family in Alberta. Unlike many treefrogs, the boreal chorus frog's adhesive toe pads are not well-developed. As a result, it is a poor climber and does not live in trees. Nevertheless, its long digits and small toe pads allow it to cling to grasses and other low-growing vegetation. Unlike true frogs in our area, the boreal chorus frog lacks glandular ridges, called dorsolateral folds, on its back.

photo: Kory G. Roberts

Boreal Chorus Frog
Pseudacris maculata

Spadefoot Toads

Family Scaphiopodidae

The Plains spadefoot is the only species of the Scaphiopodidae family in Alberta. The Spadefoot in our area has vertical, elongated (cat-like) pupils and a single sharp-edged "spade" on each hind foot used for digging backward through the soil; traits not found in other Alberta frogs and toads. Spadefoots also lack an enlarged parotoid gland behind each eye and are less "warty" than true toads. Spadefoots are rarely seen outside their breeding period, which is typically triggered by heavy rain.

photo: Richard D. Sage

Plains Spadefoot
Spea bombifrons