South American Amphibian List With Pictures & Facts: Meet The Amazing Amphibians Of South America!

Check out these captivating articles on Active Wild about various types of amphibians! Delve into the fascinating world of these versatile creatures through the comprehensive guide titled “Amphibians: The Ultimate Guide.” Explore the rich diversity of African, Asian, Australian, British, European, and North American amphibians in separate articles dedicated to each region. For those interested in South American amphibians, which thrive in the continent’s lush tropical rainforests, we have an exciting selection to introduce to you.

South America is renowned for its remarkable frogs, with an abundance of species exhibiting astonishing traits. Additionally, caecilians, a type of legless amphibian, are well-represented in this continent. However, salamanders tend to favor temperate regions in the Northern Hemisphere, with only a limited presence south of the Equator. None are found beyond the confines of the Amazon basin.

If you’re eager to learn more about the three primary categories of amphibians, be sure to visit the comprehensive guide titled “Amphibians: The Ultimate Guide.”

Within this list, you’ll encounter an array of captivating amphibians, including frogs whose tadpoles develop within their parents’ mouths, frogs with translucent skin that reveals their internal organs, and frogs possessing enough venom to potentially harm twenty humans!

To gain in-depth knowledge about the featured amphibians, simply follow the provided links for detailed information. Enjoy your journey into the captivating realm of amphibians!

Argentine Horned Frog

Officially known as Ceratophrys ornata, the Argentine horned frog possesses a distinctive appearance that goes beyond its vibrant skin tones. With horn-like projections situated above its eyes and an exceptionally large mouth, comprising roughly half of its overall size, this amphibian catches the eye.

Originating from South America, this creature proves to be an insatiable predator, devouring practically any creature that can squeeze into its colossal mouth. Its remarkable oral capacity and voracious appetite have earned it an additional moniker: the ornate pacman frog!

Cane Toad

The cane toad, scientifically known as Rhinella marina, holds the title of being the largest true toad globally. With its body length, excluding limbs, reaching up to 24 cm (9.4 in), it stands out in the family Bufonidae.

Originally hailing from Central and Northern South America, the cane toad has been deliberately introduced to various regions worldwide, primarily as a means to manage insect pests that harm crops. Unfortunately, this introduction has had devastating consequences for numerous ecosystems. The toad’s skin secretes toxins that prove lethal to native wildlife.


Cayenne Caecilian

The scientific name for this fascinating creature is Typhlonectes compressicauda. It falls under the conservation status of Least Concern, indicating that its population is relatively stable.

Caecilians, a lesser-known group of amphibians, differ from frogs and salamanders. These worm-like creatures possess a unique lifestyle. Most caecilians are blind and dwell primarily underground. However, certain caecilians from South America have adapted to an aquatic existence.

One such aquatic caecilian is the Cayenne caecilian, inhabiting the lush Amazon rainforest. Resembling an eel, this predator emerges from its underground burrow during the night. Its diet consists of insect larvae, crustaceans, and small fish, which it hunts and devours.


Eleutherodactylus is the scientific classification for a group of tiny frogs known as coquis, exclusive to the vibrant island of Puerto Rico. Among these, the Eleutherodactylus coqui, commonly referred to as the “common coqui,” holds a special status as a beloved emblem of the nation.

These delightful creatures derive their name from the distinct sound they produce, which resembles their unique call. The coquis encompass various species, all falling under the genus Eleutherodactylus.

Darwin’s Frog

The distinctive species known as Rhinoderma darwinii, commonly referred to as Darwin’s frog, faces the conservation challenge of being classified as vulnerable. This unique amphibian inhabits the forest streams and marshes of Chile and Argentina.

What sets this South American frog apart is its captivating life cycle. As the larvae within the eggs start to stir, an extraordinary phenomenon occurs. The male Darwin’s frog dutifully gathers the eggs into his mouth, assuming the role of caretaker. Within the safety of the male’s oral cavity, the eggs hatch and the tadpoles experience a remarkable transformation, developing within the vocal sacs of their paternal guardian. Ultimately, these tadpoles emerge from their father’s mouth as fully-formed frogs, continuing the cycle of life in an astonishing manner.

Glass Frogs

The Centrolenidae family encompasses a group of frogs commonly referred to as “glass frogs.” These fascinating amphibians earned their name because of their transparent skin, which allows observers to catch glimpses of their internal organs.

Glass frogs display a wide array of species diversity and can be found across various regions of Central and South America. These remarkable creatures primarily inhabit trees and spend a significant portion of their lives within these arboreal habitats.

Horned Marsupial Frog

Scientifically known as Gastrotheca cornuta, the horned marsupial frog belongs to the Hemiphractidae family, which includes various species of marsupial frogs. These unique frogs earned their name due to the presence of specialized pouches on the females’ backs, where their offspring undergo development.

During nighttime, the horned marsupial frog undergoes a remarkable transformation, changing its color from brown to a tanned hue.

A notable aspect of the horned marsupial frog’s life cycle is that its entire larval stage, known as the tadpole stage, occurs within the mother’s pouch. The young frogs eventually emerge from these pouches as small, independent individuals.

An intriguing characteristic of the horned marsupial frog is the size of its eggs, which are recognized as the largest among all known amphibian eggs.

Lowland Tropical Bullfrog

Known scientifically as Adenomera andreae, the tropical bullfrog of the lowlands is a petite amphibian discovered in the eastern regions of northern South America, situated to the east of the mighty Andes. This fascinating species measures a maximum length of 30 mm (1.2 in) and boasts a brown complexion adorned with distinctive dark spots.

Setting it apart from its amphibian counterparts, the lowland tropical bullfrog possesses an intriguing reproductive strategy. Rather than relying on a water body to deposit its eggs, this frog ingeniously constructs foam nests within the soil, where the eggs and tadpoles undergo their developmental journey.

Remarkably, due to its adaptability and stable population, the conservation status of the lowland tropical bullfrog stands as “Least Concern” at present.

Nauta Salamander

Scientifically known as Bolitoglossa altamazonica, the Nauta salamander is a unique amphibian found in the rainforests of Central and South America. While South America is predominantly home to frogs and toads, salamanders are more prevalent in North America, with only a few species inhabiting the southern regions.

Belonging to the family Plethodontidae, which includes various South American salamanders, the Nauta salamander is classified as a “lungless salamander.” Unlike other amphibians, these salamanders do not possess lungs but instead rely on their skin and mouth tissues to extract oxygen.

Typically measuring around 10 cm (4 inches) in length, the Nauta salamander displays a range of colors and can be found in the lowland rainforests across Central and South America. Despite their unique characteristics, these salamanders are currently considered to be of Least Concern in terms of conservation status.

Nicaragua Giant Glass Frog

Officially known as Espadarana prosoblepon, the Nicaragua giant glass frog holds a conservation status of Least Concern. This remarkable amphibian, also referred to as the emerald glass frog, owes its name to its vibrant green hue. Similar to other glass frog species, its skin is transparent, granting a fascinating view of its internal organs.

The Nicaragua giant glass frog thrives in the lush rainforests of Central and South America. Among the distinguishing features of the males are their elongated “humeral spines,” extensions of the humerus bone in their arms. These unique structures serve a purpose in territorial disputes as the males engage in fierce battles.

Paradoxical Frog

Officially known as Pseudis paradoxa, the paradoxical frog holds a conservation status of “Least Concern.” This intriguing amphibian earns its name from the remarkable contrast in size between its larval form, known as tadpoles, and its fully grown adult stage.

Found in various marshes across South American countries situated east of the Andes, this tree frog species exhibits an astonishing phenomenon. The tadpoles of the paradoxical frog grow to enormous lengths, surpassing 22 cm (8.6 in.), while the adults only reach a modest maximum length of 75 mm (3 in.).

Poison Dart Frogs

The poison dart frog, a well-known amphibian in South America, belongs to the family Dendrobatidae and exclusively inhabits Central and South America. These frogs derive their name from the toxins produced by glands in their skin. Indigenous hunters used to coat the tips of their darts with these poisons, enhancing their deadly effect.

Poison dart frogs are typically adorned with vibrant colors, serving as a warning to potential predators that consuming them would be unwise. Among these frogs, the golden poison frog (Phyllobates terribilis) stands out as one of the most venomous creatures alive. Astonishingly, a single golden poison frog possesses enough poison to fatally harm up to 20 individuals.

Rabbs’ Fringe-Limbed Treefrog

Officially known as Ecnomiohyla rabborum, this remarkable amphibian, commonly referred to as Rabbs’ fringe-limbed treefrog, is an exceedingly rare species that is currently deemed extinct. Native to Panama, it thrived within the uppermost layer of a small region encompassing cloud forests.

Remarkably, this tree frog possessed the ability to gracefully glide between trees by employing the interdigital webbing to decelerate its descent.

In a truly distinctive display of parental care, the species employed an unusual feeding method for its tadpoles—they would consume the skin of their own father.

Regrettably, it is now widely accepted that the Rabbs’ fringe-limbed treefrog has ceased to exist.

Red Eyed Tree Frog

Officially known as Agalychnis callidryas, the red-eyed tree frog is a well-recognized amphibian native to South America. Its existence is currently not a cause for major concern as it falls under the classification of “Least Concern” in terms of conservation status. This unique creature can be found dwelling in the lush rainforests stretching from southern Mexico all the way to Columbia.

The preferred habitat of the red-eyed tree frog is the upper canopy of the rainforest. It has developed a remarkable defense mechanism: relying on its vibrant coloration to blend in with its surroundings, it evades detection by potential predators. However, when faced with a threat, this amphibian unveils a surprising tactic. It swiftly exposes its large, captivating red eyes, aiming to startle and deter any would-be aggressors.

Smoky Jungle Frog / South American Bullfrog

Officially known as Leptodactylus pentadactylus, the smoky jungle frog, also referred to as the South American bullfrog, is a remarkable amphibian inhabiting regions such as Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, and Peru. This species holds a conservation status of “Least Concern,” indicating a relatively stable population.

Distinguishing between genders, female smoky jungle frogs surpass their male counterparts in size, reaching an impressive body length of up to 18.5 cm (7.3 in.). Even their tadpoles are notably large, growing to lengths of about 83 mm (3.27 in.). Notably, male frogs possess a spine on each thumb and two additional spines on their chests.

To protect themselves from potential threats, these frogs possess a fascinating defense mechanism. They have the ability to produce a substantial quantity of toxic slime, serving as a deterrent to potential predators.

Spikethumb Frogs

Plectrohyla, a genus of frogs commonly referred to as spikethumb frogs, possess a distinctive feature on their thumbs called a spike or “prepollex.” These amphibians face a significant conservation challenge as numerous species within the spikethumb frog family are currently classified as endangered or critically endangered.

The primary factor contributing to their declining population is the widespread destruction of their habitats caused by deforestation.

Surinam Horned Frog

Known scientifically as Ceratophrys cornuta, the Surinam horned frog, or the Amazonian horned frog, is a remarkable amphibian found in South America. It possesses several distinctive features that make it stand out. Notably, its mouth is approximately 1.6 times wider than its own body length, giving it an extraordinary appearance. Additionally, this fascinating frog exhibits horn-like projections above its eyes.

The Surinam horned frog is primarily found in the leaf litter of rainforests where it burrows. It is known for its insatiable appetite as a formidable predator. It preys upon a wide range of creatures, including other frogs, small reptiles, mammals, and practically anything that can fit into its remarkably large mouth!

Waxy Monkey Tree Frog

The waxy monkey tree frog, scientifically known as Phyllomedusa sauvagii, belongs to the Hylidae family, also called the true tree frogs. These frogs are well adapted to an arboreal lifestyle, spending the majority of their time in trees.

Native to the Gran Chaco, a warm and arid region spanning Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Brazil, the waxy monkey tree frog thrives in this environment.

To ensure the survival of their offspring, this species attaches its eggs to a leaf that hangs above a body of water. The clever folding of the leaf creates a protective nest. Once the eggs hatch, the tadpoles safely drop into the water below.


Leave a Comment