Amphibians are cold-blooded, smooth-skinned animals from the Chordate Phylum. This class of animals includes frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts. Some live on land and some in the water, but most species return to the water to mate and lay eggs. You can see many amphibians in the Unseen New World at Nashville Zoo.

  • Blue Poison Arrow Frog

    South America



    10 years

    0.3 oz, 2 inches

    Spiders, small invertebrates

    The blue poison arrow frog is one of more than 100 species of poison arrow frogs that come in a variety of colors and patterns. These bright colors warn potential predators to stay away. Poison arrow frogs got their name because several tribes in Central and South America would use the poisonous secretions of the frogs to poison their hunting arrows.

    After mating, a female poison arrow frog will lay 2-6 eggs and both males and females take care of the eggs, which includes keeping them moist and protecting them from predators. Once they are old enough, the male frog will guide the tadpoles on his back to a stream or small pool where they develop into baby frogs. You can see this poison arrow frog along with other species of poison arrow frogs in Unseen New World.

  • Hellbender

    From New York to Alabama/Mississippi

    Fast moving, shallow streams

    Near Threatened

    Up to 30 years

    4-5 lbs, 20 in

    Crayfish, fish, invertebrates

    The largest salamander in Tennessee, hellbenders can be found in the eastern two thirds of the state. Hellbender populations have gone through dramatic declines across their range over the last 20 years and are now a candidate species for endangered status listing.

    Hellbenders will spend their entire lives in water. They prefer cold fast moving water with high levels of oxygen due to the fact that 95% of their oxygen is absorbed through their skin. Their tiny eyes can detect light but are not very good at forming images. Hellbenders are solitary nocturnal animals who spend the daytime hiding under rocks. A meeting between two hellbenders will usually result in a fight between them. You can see our hellbenders in Unseen New World.

    Nashville Zoo Hellbender Conservation Program and other state conservation initiatives.

  • Puerto Rican Crested Toad

    Puerto Rico

    Semi-arid, rocky forests

    Critically Endangered

    Up to 10 years

    2-6 oz, 3-4 in

    Insects, invertebrates

    The Puerto Rican Crested Toad is the only toad native to the island of Puerto Rico. It makes its home on the northern and southern coasts of the island. Mating usually happens during the rainy season and eggs are laid in pools of water, streams, or small dams.

    The Puerto Rican Crested Toad was the first amphibian placed on a Species Survival Plan (SSP) due to rapid population declines because of the invasive marine toad that was introduced to Puerto Rico in the 1920s. Nashville Zoo has sent thousands of tadpoles to the island for reintroduction. You can see our Crested Toads in Unseen New World.

    We participate in the Species Survival Plan for Puerto Rican Crested Toads.

    • Surinam Toad

      Eastern South America, Trinidad

      Murky ponds/swamps

      Least Concern

      Up to 8 years

      Up to 5.5 oz, 8 inches

      Small fish, crustaceans, invertebrates

      Although named the Surinam toad, they are actually frogs. You might mistake them for a leaf or a rock, and that’s the point! When prey swim near them, the frogs lunge forward, swallowing their prey in one gulp. These fully aquatic frogs have an interesting reproductive strategy. The pair do somersaults in the water where the males fertilize the eggs and drops them onto the female’s back, where they are completely covered by her skin after a few days. The offspring hatch under the skin where they remain for 3-4 months when the frogs burst out of the mothers back!

      The Surinam toads can be seen in Unseen New World.