Marbled Salamander, John MacGregor photo



Amphibians (Class Amphibia) form a moderately diverse group consisting of about 4,100 species worldwide including more that 3,700 kinds of frogs and nearly 400 kinds of salamanders. At the present time, 57 amphibian species are known to occur in Kentucky (35 types of salamanders and 22 frogs and toads).


Kentucky’s amphibians occur in a wide variety of places. Some kinds are largely or totally terrestrial, while others are entirely aquatic throughout their life cycle. Some are found only in swamps and/or bottomland forests bordering the Mississippi River and lower Ohio River, while others prefer upland forests in various sections of the state or even the high elevation northern hardwood forests in extreme southeastern Kentucky. A few even occupy open grasslands and prairie remnants.

All of Kentucky’s frogs and toads breed and lay their eggs in water. Some species prefer temporary ponds, road ruts, and ditches as breeding sites while others use permanent ponds or even the backwater areas of rivers and large streams. Kentucky’s salamanders are more variable in breeding habitat; 10 kinds are completely terrestrial at all life stages while the remaining 25 species have aquatic larvae. The terrestrial forms deposit their eggs in moist places on land, the eggs are brooded by the females, and all larval development takes place within the eggs. Those species with aquatic larval stages are themselves quite variable – 9 kinds only breed in ponds, 2 use swamps and/or wetlands, 2 utilize large streams and rivers, and 12 reproduce in springs, seeps, and headwater streams. All adult salamanders and frogs in Kentucky are predators, mostly feeding on insects and other small creatures. All salamander larvae are also predaceous, but frog larvae (tadpoles) are herbivores.

Research and Monitoring

KDFWR pays special attention to about 40% of the Kentucky amphibian fauna (9 frogs and 14 salamanders) due to a variety of conservation issues. Some species have very limited ranges in the state, others appear to be in decline for a variety of reasons, and a few have been chosen because they have special needs or use habitats that support a wide array of other wildlife. Several kinds of salamanders are nearly endemic to Kentucky – much more common here than anywhere else – and we keep close tabs on them as well. Some of KDFWR’s activities on behalf of these amphibians include constructing and maintaining breeding ponds, night time voice surveys for calling frogs, regular visits to certain locations across the state to document reproduction (eggs, larvae, metamorphs, or juveniles) or count adults, surveying new areas and habitats, checking for evidence of Ranavirus and other amphibian diseases, supporting university research, and creating detailed maps for each species to provide a baseline for future work.

Short-tailed Shrew, photo by John MacGregor

Have You Seen Me?
Photo by John MacGregor

Species List

A complete list of amphibian species known from Kentucky appears below. Those marked with asterisks (**) are currently being studied, tracked, monitored, or given special management consideration as a species of greatest conservation need under Kentucky’s Wildlife Action Plan.


Frogs and Toads of Kentucky Identification

True Toads (2)

American Toad
Fowler’s Toad

Treefrogs and relatives (10)

Cricket Frog
Bird-voiced Treefrog**
Cope’s Gray Treefrog
Green Treefrog**
Barking Treefrog**
Eastern Gray Treefrog**
Mountain Chorus Frog
Upland Chorus Frog
Midland Chorus Frog
Spring Peeper

True Frogs (8)

American Bullfrog
Green Frog
Pickerel Frog
Wood Frog**
Northern Crawfish Frog**
Plains Leopard Frog**
Northern Leopard Frog**
Southern Leopard Frog**

Narrowmouth Toads (1)

Eastern Narrowmouth Toad

Spadefoots (1)

Eastern Spadefoot**

American Bullfrog, Photo by John R. MacGregor

American Bullfrog, Photo by John R. MacGregor


Mole Salamanders (7)

Streamside Salamander
Jefferson Salamander
Spotted Salamander
Marbled Salamander
Mole Salamander**
Smallmouth Salamander
Eastern Tiger Salamander

Lungless Salamanders (23)

Green Salamander**
Spotted Dusky Salamander**
Northern Dusky Salamander** 
Seal Salamander
Allegheny Dusky Salamander**
Black Mountain Salamander**
Southern Two-lined Salamander
Three-lined Salamander**
Longtail Salamander
Cave Salamander
Kentucky Spring Salamander
Four-toed Salamander**
Northern Redback Salamander**
Northern Zigzag Salamander
Southern Zigzag Salamander
Northern Ravine Salamander
Southern Ravine Salamander
Northern Slimy Salamander
Mississippi Slimy Salamander
Cumberland Plateau Salamander**
Wehrle’s Salamander**
Midland Mud Salamander
Northern Red Salamander

Newts (1)

Eastern Newt

Amphiumas (1)

Three-toed Amphiuma**

Hellbenders (1)

Eastern Hellbender**

Mudpuppies (1)


Sirens (1)

Western Lesser Siren**

Green Salamander, Photo by John R. MacGregor

Green Salamander, Photo by John R. MacGregor