Without question, the most popular species in the park is the salamander. In fact there are so many salamanders living in the area, the park has been dubbed the “Salamander Capital of the World”. Because of the park’s unique climate, the surrounding geology has been able to develop over 30 different species of salamanders. Interestingly, the lungless salamander has dramatically evolved over the past several years making it one of the most diverse salamander species in the world.Frequently referred to as “spring lizards”, unlike lizards a salamander does not have scales on its body and are very slimy. When a salamander lays its eggs, they are encompassed by a clear, gooey jell like substance.
Other popular Smoky Mountain amphibians include toads and frogs. A tailless amphibian, both species have long legs and are known for their ability to jump across relatively long distances. Because of all the streams and rivers within the Smokies, both frogs and toads can be found throughout the entire park.
Carnivorous by nature, frogs and lungless salamanders use their long tongues to catch their prey. Other species of salamanders are known to catch their prey by using their jaw and mouth. Typically, amphibians will hunt prey that is small enough to stalk and eat. Some species, like the larval salamanders will feast upon small aquatic insects, where frog and toad larvae are considered to be herbivores. Frog and toad tadpoles will actually eat aquatic plants, algae and rotting organic substances.