Idaho's Amphibians

Idaho’s Amphibians

The word “amphibian” is made up of two different Greek words; “amphi” which means “both” and “bios” which means “life.” So, the word amphibian means “double life.” This refers to the fact that these animals, which are vertebrates (meaning that they have a backbone) need both water and land during their life cycle. Because they are amphibians, they go through a metamorphosis (change) during which they transform from eggs to tadpoles, then to adulthood. 

Tadpoles in water
Tadpoles, credit Ronald T. Richards /

Amphibians lay their eggs in water, and young amphibians tend to look like small fish. The tadpole, or newborn frog, is born and lives in water. It has a tail that allows it to swim like a fish. It also has gills so that it can breathe under water. As the tadpole grows into a frog, it loses its gills and tail, and develops legs for moving on land. Most amphibians can both walk and swim in water. Depending on the type of amphibian, breathing can take place in gills, lungs, the lining of the mouth, the skin, or some combination of these. An amphibian’s body temperature changes with its environment. So, in cold climates such as Idaho, amphibians hibernate during winter.

Bullfrog tadpole
A bullfrog tadpole, credit John J. Mosesso /

Some people like to keep reptiles or amphibians as pets; however collection of these animals is regulated by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Click here to look at the Idaho Fish and Game web page about animal collection for additional information.


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Herbivore Mammals

Pygmy rabbit
Desert cottontail
Eastern gray squirrel
Red squirrel
Deer mouse
Kangaroo rat
Meadow vole
Mule deer
Bighorn sheep
American pronghorn

Carnivore Mammals

American badger
River otter
Red fox
Long-tailed weasel
Grizzly bear
Mountain lion



Long-toed salamander
Idaho giant salamander
Coeur d'Alene salamander

Frogs and Toads

American bullfrog
Columbia spotted frog
Western toad
Northern leopard frog
Pacific tree frog
Great Basin spadefoot



Painted turtle
Northern alligator lizard
Mohave black-collared lizard
Short-horned lizard
Desert horned lizard
Sagebrush lizard
Western fence lizard
Western skink
Side-blotched lizard
Longnosed leopard lizard
Western whiptail


Western pipistrelle
Western small-footed myotis
Little brown bat
Yuma myotis
Townsend's big-eared bat
Hoary bat
Silver-haired bat
Fringed myotis
Pallid bat

Sensitive Species (not a complete list)

Greater sage-grouse
Pygmy rabbit
No. Idaho ground squirrel
So. Idaho ground squirrel
Canada lynx
Grizzly bear
Selkirk Mtns. woodland caribou
Kootenai White River sturgeon
Bull trout
Sockeye salmon
Chinook salmon
Steelhead trout
Yellow-billed cuckoo