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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Approved