Rana Temporaria, an amphibian commonly seen in Ireland


Wildlife and Fauna

There are only three species of amphibian in Ireland, which is a very small number compared to most European countries. They are the common frog, Rana temporaria, the common or smooth newt, Triturus vulgaris and the natterjack toad, Bufo calamita. The natterjack toad is rare and confined to a small number of sand dune areas on the coast of south west Kerry and one introduced population in Wexford Harbour. Little is known about the status of newts in Ireland, because they haven't been studied much, however they are certainly present in and around the Royal Canal. Frogs are found all over mainland Ireland. It appears their numbers declined in the twentieth century but have now stabilised. It was long believed that they were introduced to Ireland in historic times but recent genetic research suggests that there have been human introductions but that frogs in the southern part of the country are true natives, along with the other two amphibian species, and survived the last Ice Age in some warm refuge.

They have a limited ability to change their skin colour, like a chameleon, to blend in with their surroundings. Contrary to popular belief, Irish frogs are only water animals for a few weeks of the year, during the breeding season in early spring. Natterjack toads breed in late spring and are also land animals for most of the year. Newts spend a longer time in the water during the summer months. All three animals hibernate, normally on land.