Amphibians of Huron County

Huron County is home to a number of amphibians including 8 frog species and 4 salamander species. Amphibians were the first vertebrates to colonize land and their name is derived from the Greek word for “both kinds of life” in reference to their aquatic and terrestrial existence. As a result of this lifestyle, amphibians are a major mode of transport between water and land and play a key role in many food webs as both predator and prey.

"Herping" is the name for looking for reptiles and amphibians, because these animals are also called "herpetofauna". If you want to see your local amphibians they are relatively predictable and therefore easy to find. They typically wait for wetter days to make major movements and on warm, dry days they will spend most of their time close to the water and under objects that keep them cool.

The red-backed salamander can have a population density exceeding 2500 salamanders per hectare. These animals can be easily found beneath damp, rotting logs and bark. Be sure to follow the ethical guidelines below when looking for salamanders and frogs. Photo: K. Wintersgill
The green frog call makes the same “gunk” as a loose banjo string. Photo: S.Paul

Threats to Amphibians

Amphibians face a number of different threats including diseases like Ranavirus and Chytridiomycosis, road mortality, and human harvesting for food and education (ex. frog dissections). However, habitat loss is 4x more detrimental than any other threat. Amphibians have permeable skin that makes them extremely vulnerable to minor changes in water quality and microclimate. As a result of this, there is a heavy decline in populations when water is polluted or when forest cover decreases. Amphibians are also at risk of drying up if they spend too much time away from water, so they rely heavily on the Huron County wetlands, which have decreased to ¼ their original land cover from pre-European settlement times. Amphibians - who have survived the past four mass extinctions - are in more danger now than they ever have been.

What can you do?

You can report all sightings of reptiles and amphibians to the 'Herps of Ontario' in order to advance research in the local populations. Additionally there are changes you can make to your yard so it is more amphibian friendly, like adding a pond or objects that provide shaded areas. Finally if you are going to go looking for amphibians (herping) make sure you are replacing all cover objects to the original position and keeping the handling to a minimum. Since these animals absorb everything through their skin, do not touch unless your hands are clean and you’re not wearing bug spray or sunscreen.

Responsible Herping Guidelines

  • Protect them by not touching them - amphibians have absorbent skin and salt and oil can harm them.
  • Never wear bug spray or sunscreen on your hands when touching amphibians as this can cause injury or even death.
  • To avoid destroying microhabitats, always make sure cover items are replaced where you found them. Before replacing cover, gently nudge salamanders out of the way to avoid crushing them.
  • Never collect or transport amphibians or reptiles.
  • Do not publicly share the locations of species-at-risk, as this can lead to poaching (for food or the illegal pet trade) and persecution. These sightings can be reported through the iNaturalist app or website (Rare species of Ontario project) or directly to the Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC).
  • Do your part to prevent the spread of amphibian diseases, such as the Bsal and Bd fungus. This includes cleaning boots and herping equipment (e.g. nets) with a 10% bleach solution in water. Make sure you thoroughly wash all equipment and field gear before and after use.