North Carolina has 38 state symbols, but not one of them is an amphibian. We call the Box Turtle our State Reptile, but there is no amphibian relation to stand beside it. 28% of our states have a State Amphibian Symbol including our neighboring states of South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. About 86% of these states also have a State Reptile Symbol. Did you know North Carolina is home to 90+ species of amphibians and is known for its diverse population of salamanders, boasting possibly more than any other state in the Union? Frogs comprise approximately 30% of the amphibian species in North Carolina.
The North Carolina Herpetological Society feels strongly that North Carolina needs both a State Frog and a State Salamander to represent our state’s amazing amphibian diversity; thus, we conducted a poll both among our members and the citizens of North Carolina to find out what amphibians the people thought best represented our state. In the end, after more than 6,000 votes, the Pine Barrens Treefrog and the Marbled Salamander were chosen over all the other candidates. Due to her earlier success with getting NC to recognize a Save the Frogs Day!, and her love of frogs, we have asked one of our younger members, Rachel Hopkins, to spearhead this new effort.
We have created the "whereas" documents required for proposal to the legislature for each species along with brief fact sheets on each species for ease of reading.
In 2007, a bill was introduced to the North Carolina Legislature proposing that we adopt the American Bullfrog as our State Amphibian. While we were excited that the state was considering adopting a State Amphibian, the North Carolina Herpetological Society spoke out against the American Bullfrog as a State Symbol and recommended some alternative species for consideration.
North Carolina has the highest salamander diversity in the world and, rivaled only by Georgia, leads the nation in amphibian diversity. We have an opportunity to pick an amphibian species that reflects our state's unparalleled amphibian diversity.
So, in 2008, we asked for your opinion on our state amphibian and you gave it! After almost 6,000 votes were cast in our online poll, the results are in. You chose the PINE BARRENS TREEFROG as your favorite frog and the MARBLED SALAMANDER as your favorite salamander.
The herp society's Executive Council decided that because of North Carolina's vast diversity of amphibians we should nominate both of our winners rather than just one. So, we have decided to make an official proposal for the pine barrens treefrog to be our State Frog and the marbled salamander to be our State Salamander.
Teachers: Interested in having your class learn more about amphibians and get them involved in the legislative process? Contact our webmaster here!
**Below were our amphibian species suggestions for the poll.**
Four frog species:
Carolina Gopher Frog (Rana c. capito) - a Threatened species found in the Sandhills and Coastal Plain of NC; the deep, snoring call of this frog was once common on warm, rainy nights. (photos and more info here)
Brimley's Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brimleyi) - found in the Coastal Plain of NC; named in honor of North Carolinian C.S. Brimley, a pioneer in our state's natural history and co-founder of the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. (photos and more info here)
Pine Barrens Treefrog (Hyla andersonii) - arguably one of the most beautiful frogs in NC; it is found in the Sandhills and Coastal Plain of NC, but is considered significantly rare in NC. (photos and more info here)
Four salamander species:
Neuse River Waterdog (Necturus lewisi) - found only in the Neuse and Tar River basins and nowhere else in the world, the Neuse River Waterdog was first described by North Carolinian C.S. Brimley, a pioneer in our state's natural history and co-founder of the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. (photos and more info here)
Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) - a member of the giant salamander family, this completely aquatic salamander is commonly seen by anglers in the Mountain region; NC has one of the world's healthiest remaining populations; nicknamed the "snot otter" or "devil dog". (photos and more info here)
Yonahlossee Salamander (Plethodon yonahlossee) - a large, striking salamander with a brick-red back whose range is almost entirely in NC; first discovered near Grandfather Mountain and named for a road in Linville, NC. (photos and more info here)
-American Bullfrogs are not unique to North Carolina and are found throughout much of the US. (related link: USDA)
-At least three other states have the American Bullfrog as their state amphibian (Missouri, Iowa, & Oklahoma).
- American Bullfrogs are an aggressive invasive species in other areas of the country and world, putting native amphibian species at risk. (related links: USGS article 1; article 2; National Geographic article)
-American Bullfrogs do not represent the overall decline in amphibian species worldwide. (related link: AmphibiaWeb)
-American Bullfrogs can carry and spread the chytrid fungus, one of the known causes of amphibian declines. (related links: BBC; CDC)