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