Amphibians in Your Backyard

Frogs, toads and some salamanders can be easily attracted to backyards by creating or improving aquatic habitats, provided these aquatic habitats have some forested areas nearby.

Ponds made by digging shallow holes and lining them with waterproof plastic are the easiest way to provide amphibians with the aquatic habitats they need for breeding and staying moist.

A few frog species, such as bullfrogs, green frogs and Fowler's toads, are able to survive well with fish present in shallow ponds. But most amphibian species including chorus frogs, treefrogs and most salamanders are unable to survive with fish, with the exception of a few mosquitofish. To attract a diversity of amphibians, it is best to leave these ponds fishless.

Vegetation is also an important consideration when making or improving an aquatic habitat for amphibians. Aquatic plants like water lilies, Sagittaria spp., bladderworts, sedges, rushes and others are important to provide structures for egg attachment as well as cover for larvae-like tadpoles. You may wish to leave some "open" water so you can observe and enjoy your amphibians, but some vegetative cover is necessary elsewhere. In addition to aquatic plants, terrestrial vegetation such as shrubs or other plants is needed adjacent to some or all of the pond to provide cover and calling structures for treefrogs.

If there are wooded areas adjacent to or near the pond, it is important to leave logs, leaf litter, rocks and other cover to provide shelter for amphibians while they are away from the pond. Many amphibians spend more of their time on land than in water. Some amphibians only use aquatic habitats for brief breeding episodes.

Because the skin of amphibians is very porous and absorbent, pesticides should be used conservatively and prevented from entering the pond through runoff. Other than tadpoles that eat algae and decaying vegetation, all amphibians eat insects and other invertebrates. Eliminating amphibians' prey could reduce or eliminate them indirectly. Successful attraction of a diversity of amphibians to your backyard will help control insect populations without the need for excessive pesticides.

Order a copy of "Calls of the Wild" — Georgia Frogs CD, for recordings of 32 different frog and toad species in Georgia.


Amphibians Likely to Use Backyard Habitats in Georgia

Species

Range in Georgia

Level of Fish Tolerance

American Toad Northern half of state Able to tolerate fish
Fowler's Toad Throughout state Able to tolerate fish
Southern Toad Southern half of state Able to tolerate fish
Cricket Frog Statewide Can only tolerate fish if there is abundant aquatic vegetation
Gray Treefrog Statewide Unable to tolerate fish
Green Treefrog Southern two-thirds of state Able to tolerate fish, though unlikely to breed in small pools
Squirrel Treefrog Southern half of state Unable to tolerate fish
Spring Peeper Statewide Unable to tolerate fish
Upland Chorus Frog Northern two-thirds of state Unable to tolerate fish
Southern Chorus Frog Southern half of state Unable to tolerate fish
Eastern Narrowmouth Toad Statewide Unable to tolerate fish
Bullfrog Statewide Able to tolerate fish
Green or Bronze Frog Statewide Able to tolerate fish
Southern Leopard Frog Nearly statewide Able to tolerate fish
Wood Frog Northern third of state Unable to tolerate fish
Spotted Salamander Northern two-thirds of state Unable to tolerate fish
Eastern Newt Statewide Can only tolerate fish if there is abundant vegetation

Frogs, toads and some salamanders can be easily attracted to backyards by creating or improving aquatic habitats, provided these aquatic habitats have some forested areas nearby.

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