Amphibians

Salamanders


Red-spotted Newt - Notophthalmus viridescens

Description: 2 3/8 - 5 1/8" (6 - 13 cm). Yellow or brown dorsum with bright orange spots. Belly is yellow to cream with many pepper-like black spots.

Similar species in our area: NONE

Lifestyle: This species is common at BNL and can be quite abundant locally. Found throughout most parts of our area. Many individuals remain completely aquatic in this part of it’s range, although red efts do sometimes occur if ponds dry up. Prefers slow moving, vegetated pools with sufficient sunlight. Mates from March to May. Males tails’ enlarge and take on a black color during this time. 200-400 eggs laid individually on submerged vegetation. These hatch from May to August at 3/8 (1cm) and transform in late summer.

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Eastern Tiger Salamander - Ambystoma tigrinum tigrinum

Description: 5 7/8 - 9 ¾" (15 - 35 cm). This is our largest salamander. Highly irregular splotches olive to yellow color on black dorsum. Olive/yellow dorsum. Very plump, with 12-13 costal grooves.

Similar species in our area:
The spotted salamander (A. maculatum), however, adult tiger salamanders are significantly larger as are metamorphs.

Lifestyle: This species is listed as "Endangered" by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. It is fairly common at BNL but is uncommon or extirpated throught many of the other parts of L.I. Fossorial. Live in heavily forested areas with moist to dry soils in scattered populations throughout our area. Seldom seen, except during breeding. They live under logs and rocks and also underground in rodent and self made burrows. This is the largest salamander in the eastern U.S. Breeding occurs January to April. Gelatinous egg masses are attached to submerged vegetation. Larvae hatch during summer at about ½". They transform into adults when they reach about 4-7". Females lay 205-328 eggs deposited in 5-8 egg masses. Average mass is 41 eggs. ANY SIGHTINGS OF THIS SPECIES ON LONG ISLAND SHOULD BE REPORTED TO Jeremy Feinberg.

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Marbled Salamander - Ambystoma opacum

Description: 3 ½ - 4 ½" (9-11.7 cm). This salamander appears to have silvery/white bands across an otherwise black dorsum. These bands can vary from complete to incomplete. Black belly. 11-13 costal grooves.

Similar species in our area: NONE

Lifestyle: Common in certain areas of BNL uncommon through most of L.I. Fossorial. Lives under logs and rocks. Found in our Pine Barrens and deciduous forests. Prefers dry areas, although sometimes found in moist areas. Mates from Late August to October. Mating and eggs laid on land. Female lays 69-150 eggs with an average of around 98, and stays with them to protect them for some time. Young emerge from eggs as early as September when the eggs are flooded by water and are just under an inch in size. Transform 4-6 months later. ANY SIGHTINGS OF THIS SPECIES ON LONG ISLAND SHOULD BE REPORTED TO Jeremy Feinberg.

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Redback Salamander - Plethodon cinereus

Description: 2 3/8 - 4 ¾" (6 - 12 cm). "Red-backed" phase has red stripe extending down top of dorsum from base of head to tip of tail. Sides black to gray, belly black with white splotches. "Lead back" phase (shown below) completely black to slate gray with same belly as redback. Only the lead backed phase has been seen at BNL. 18-20 costal grooves.

Similar species in our area: May resemble four-toed salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum), but has five toes on hind legs and gray belly.

Lifestyle: Very common and found throughout BNL. Found in terrestrial woodlands and can tolerate disturbed areas. Usually found under forest debris. This species is completely terrestrial, including breeding (the only amphibian in our range that does not need water to lay eggs in). Breeds October through April. Eggs laid in cluster of 3-14 in June and July. Eggs laid and develop on land. Larvae hatch at about 1". May be nocturnally active on forest floor when feeding. The lead back phase is the typical phase found at BNL.

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Four Toed Salamander - Hemidactylium scutatum

Description: 2 - 3 ¾" (5.1 - 9.5 cm). Belly is enamel-white with black speckles while dorsum is red/brown and sides gray. This species has four toes on hind legs, and often has a constricted area by the base of the tail. 13-14 costal grooves.

Similar species in our area: The lead phase of the redback salamander (Plethodon cinereus) may look similar, but has five toes and enamel-white belly. Rarely seen at BNL. It is unknown how common this species is at BNL because it has a very sensitive lifestyle.

Lifestyle: Uncommon at BNL, although its secretive lifestyle may hide biologists from learning its true abundance. Occurs in moist woodlands and shallow, vegetated wetlands. At BNL occurs in associations with red maple/sphagnum moss bogs and is almost always found under moss. Breeds late winter to early spring. Lays 18-40 eggs in nest cavity near water. Nests may be communal with more that 40 eggs. Larvae hatch late spring at ½" and enter water. Transform late summer. Females will stay with and protect their eggs for some time. Great care should be taken if handling this species because the tail is prone to breaking off at the constriction. ANY SIGHTINGS OF THIS SPECIES ON LONG ISLAND SHOULD BE REPORTED TO Jeremy Feinberg.

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Frogs and Toads


Fowler’s Toad - Bufo fowleri

Description: 2 - 3 1/8" (5.1-8 cm). This toad has warty skin. Color varies from gray to almost red in our area. Can be identified by a large gland above the eye called the paratoid gland. In this species it touches the cranial ridge behind the eye. Unspotted belly. Large dark patches on dorsal surface have three or more warts contained on them.

Similar species in our area: NONE

Lifestyle: This is a common inhabitant of BNL although numbers have reportedly decreased in many parts of L.I. in recent years, even in preserved locations. They like sandy, well drained habitats. Found in both wooded and poorly wooded areas. Mates from May to August. Gelatinous eggs laid in strings which are attached to submerged vegetation. Metamorphs emerge July and August. Voice is a nasal "w-a-a-h" sound for 1 to 4 seconds. Nocturnal although seen active during the day.

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Wood Frog - Rana sylvatica

Description: 1 ½ - 3 1/8" (3.5-8 cm). Color varies from tan to pink. Defining feature of this species is the dark mask behind the eye that ends behind the tympanum. They also possess dorsolateral ridges from the eye to the anus. White belly and upper "lip." Toes are not fully webbed. Males possess swollen thumbs.

Similar species in our area: NONE

Lifestyle: This species is common at BNL. It prefers forests and wooded areas. They need water for breeding, but after will often travel appreciable distances away from water, deep into forests. One of the earliest mating species in our area, breeding adults converge in huge masses and breed explosively between late February and mid April. Communal egg masses are laid in vernal ponds. Tadpoles emerge early April to Late May. Voice sounds like the quacking sounds of a duck. Diurnal.

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Spring Peeper - Pseudacris crucifer

Description: 12/16 -1 5/16" (1.9-3.4 cm). Tan/brown coloration. There is often a characteristic "X" shape across the back.

Similar species in our area: May look similar to the Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans) and Upland Chorus Frog (P. triseriata) which are now both thought to be extinct throughout our area. Click on thumbnail to enlarge image.

Lifestyle: A common frog found throughout BNL and most of L.I. Usually occurs in and around wooded areas with permanent or temporary bodies of water, although not fully restricted to forests. This species is somewhat tolerant of urbanized areas. It is one of the first species to start calling in the spring and can even be heard on warmer winter nights. Its voice is a distinctive "peep-peep". It mates from early March to late May. Gelatinous eggs laid in water. Young emerge June through August Voice is a high pitched whistle. This species is mostly nocturnal.

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Northern Gray Treefrog - Hyla versicolor

Description: 1 ¼ - 2 3/16" (3.2-5.6 cm). Color gray or green. Rough warty skin. Distinct light spot can be found below eye. Bright orange color can be found on inside of hind legs, especially males (see picture). This species also has very large toe pads used for climbing.

Similar species in our area: NONE

Lifestyle: A common frog at BNL. Usually lives in wooded areas near water. They live up in the tree canopy and thus are not commonly seen. Can be seen by waters edge only during breeding, which occurs between April and August in our area. Gelatinous eggs laid in water. Tadpoles emerge late June to September. Mature tadpoles sometimes have bright red tails. Voice is a slow "trill" sound. This species is nocturnal.

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Bullfrog - Rana catesbeiana

Description: 3 ½ - 8" (9-20 cm). The largest frog in North America. Color is light to dark shades of green, often with mottled brownish spots. Belly is creamy white. Large external tympanum. Hind feet completely webbed except for the last joint of the longest toe.

Similar species in our area: The Green Frog (R. clamitans) is smaller but often looks similar.

Lifestyle: A common frog at BNL and most of L.I. our area, and the largest frog found in North America. Found throughout many different freshwater habitats. Commonly seen in the water, and this species can tolerate urbanized areas fairly well. This species mates between May and late July in our area. Gelatinous egg masses laid on the surface of water. Tadpoles emerge late summer, early fall. They are very large, olive green, and take a minimum of 2 years to transform into frogs. Voice is a low, vibrant bass sound similar to the pluck of a banjo string. Calling in the spring is mostly at night as males try to attract mates, but in the summer males call even in the daytime to announce territorial boundaries.

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Green Frog - Rana clamitans melanota

Description: 2 3/16 - 4" (5.5-10 cm). Variable color from green to brown, sometimes has brown blotches or spots. White cream colored belly. Males have yellow throats. This species has large external tympanum and distinct "dorsolateral ridges" that run from the head down through the body.

Similar species in our area: The Bullfrog (R. catesbeiana) is larger but young individuals may look similar. Also similar to the Southern Leopard Frog (R. sphenocephala utricularia).

Lifestyle: A very common frog at BNL and most of L.I. area. Found throughout many different freshwater habitats. Commonly seen in the water. This species can tolerate urbanized areas fairly well. Breeds from May to July. Females attach 3-4 small gelatinous egg masses to submerged vegetation. Metamorphs emerge late summer to early fall. Large olive green tadpoles may overwinter twice before transforming. Adults eat many items including small animals such as other frogs, baby birds and small rodents such as mice. Voice is often said to sound like a "loose guitar string", loud and sometimes repeated several times. If disturbed it jumps rapidly into the water while making a single deep "chung" sound. This species is considered to be nocturnal but can often be found fully active during the day.

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Pickerel Frog - Rana palustris

Description: 1 ¾ - 3 ¼" (4.4-8.2 cm). Usually brown. This species has two rows of spots down back. The spots are usually square shaped and not circular, however this rule is not always accurate for Long Island populations, especially in the vicinity of BNL. Pickerel frogs have distinctive yellow and orange coloration behind legs. This may extend onto the white belly. White line down dorsolateral ridge. This species is also reported to be very distasteful to predators.

Similar species in our area: Looks similar to the Southern Leopard Frog (R. utricularia) in our area, but has square spots, not circular.

Lifestyle: This species though not very common in our area, may be somewhat common in certain locales, including BNL. It favors habitats in or very close to water near dense herbaceous vegetation. Breeds April through May. Gelatinous egg mass attached to submerged vegetation. Metamorphs emerge by mid summer, and transform to adults by late summer early fall. Voice is a steady low pitched croak. This species is nocturnal although it can be found during the day.

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Eastern Spadefoot Toad - Scaphiopus holbrookii holbrookii

Description: 1 ¾ - 3" (4.4-7.5 cm). Sickle-shaped spade on each hind foot used for digging. Smooth skin with only a few warts. Brown to olive color. Often has two golden-white stripes along it’s back form a lyre shaped pattern. Belly is white or gray. Large golden eyes with distinct vertical pupils.

Similar species in our area: NONE

Lifestyle: Not commonly seen in our area mostly as a result of extremely localized distributions and a very secretive lifestyle. Very common at BNL. It was once found throughout many parts of our area, but now only known from scattered locales on L.I. Lives in well drained and arid, sandy or gravely areas such as the Pine Barrens or coastal sandy areas. They are often found in shallow burrows to avoid the harsh dry climates of their habitat. This species breeds explosively during heavy rains from April through August. Gelatinous eggs are laid in bands attached to submerged vegetation. Eggs sometimes hatch within two days. Transform into toads in 2 - 7 weeks. Voice is a loud, terse grunt that is low pitched and short, like the call of a nasally sounding crow. Nocturnal. ANY SIGHTINGS OF THIS SPECIES ON LONG ISLAND SHOULD BE REPORTED TO Jeremy Feinberg.

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Last Modified: October 27, 2010
Please forward all questions about this site to: Karen Ratel