Frogs and toads are included in the class Amphibia


Frogs and toads are included in the class Amphibia, the amphibians. The name indicates that these animals spend part of their lives in water. Amphibians may have been the first land animals, evolving during the Paleozoic era.

Frogs and toads lay their eggs in water. The eggs hatch into legless tadpoles which must remain in the water until, with growth, their legs develop. Then, as tiny minatures of the adults, they leave the home pond and venture forth – sometimes not very far.

Many of the most familiar calls of these animals are heard at night during the breeding season. The calls serve a similar purpose to bird songs, being mating announcements and, in some cases, territorial announcements, though territoriality is rarer among amphibians than it is among birds.

Don’t expect anyone to give you a hard and fast definition of how frogs differ from toads. Toads typically have dry, warty skin and frogs typically have smooth moist skin, but there are so many exceptions to that rule that it has little meaning. Perhaps we can say that a toad is either dry and warty or its closest relatives are dry and warty, while a frog is either smooth and moist or its closest relatives are smooth and moist. There. Didn’t that help?

The species listed here are those that can be expected in our area. You would have to be very fortunate to find all of them, though at the right season, and time of day, you will hear some. The sound files are mp3 files and are faily long. if they are too slow in the download.

Be careful handling frogs and toads. Some secrete toxins – or an awful smell – when handled.


  1. American toad
  2. Gray treefrogs
  3. Spring peeper
  4. Bullfrog
  5. Green frog
  6. Pickeral frog
  7. Wood frog
  8. Mink frog
  9. Northern leopard frog


  • American Toad – Bufo americanus
    • 2 to 4.25 inches in length (palm sized)
    • Brown to mottled with gray, olive, or red
    • Habitats widely varied, including open, grassy areas
    • Primarily nocturnal
    • Breeds early
    • Voice (WK) described as: A musical trill which can last as long as 30 seconds.

  • Gray Treefrog – Hyla versicolor
    Cope’s Gray Treefrog –Hyla chrysoscelis
    • 1.25 to 2.25 inches in length (thumb-sized)
    • Gray with shades of brown, green or pale, but can change with habitat or mood
    • Found in wooded areas
    • Primarily nocturnal
    • Mid-season to late breeder
    • Voice (Gray) described as: high trill.
    • Voice (Cope’s Gray) described as: slow trill.
      It is almost impossible to distinguish between the two unless both are calling. Unless you happen to be a herpitologist (or a gray treefrog), it probably isn’t that important. Just identify either one as ‘gray treefrog’ and you’ll be ok.

  • Spring Peeper – Pseudacris crucifer
    • .75 to 1.5 inches in length (child’s thumb-sized)
    • Variable color: yellow, brown, olive, gray
    • Woods and brushy areas
    • Primarily nocturnal
    • Early breeder
    • Voice (WK) described as: a high piping cheep repeated at at intervals of about a second.

  • Bullfrog – Rana catesbeiana
    • 3.5 to 8 inches in length (palm to large hand-sized)
    • Green, sometimes mottled with gray
    • Edges of large bodies of water (here only the beaver pond)
    • Large and powerful and eats anything from insects to fish, birds, snakes, and other frogs
    • Evening and night
    • Breeds throughout season
    • Voice (WK) described as: a series of resonant base notes often rendered as “jug o’ rum” or “chug o’ rum”.

  • Green Frog – Rana clamitans
    • 2 to 3.5 inches long (child to adult palm-size)
    • Brown to bronze, sometimes with green on lip
    • Swamps and streams
    • Nocturnal
    • Breeds after early breeders and continues much of season
    • Voice (WK) described as: a banjo string breaking – single or repeated with diminishing vigor.

  • Pickerel Frog – Rana palustris
    • 1.75 to 3.5 inches (large thumb to adult palm-size)
    • Mottled brown
    • Poison-secreting glands – secretes toxin when captured
    • Clear lakes and ponds
    • Early breeder
    • Voice (WK) described as: a steady, low-pitched snore up to 2 seconds long. Not audible from any distance.

  • Wood Frog – Rana sylvatica
    • 1.5 to 3.25 inches (generally thumb-sized, rarely larger in our area)
    • Pink or brown with black mask
    • Moist woods
    • Early breeder
    • Voice (WK) described as: a harsh quacking like a duck with, well, a frog in its throat. Not much carrying power. Similar, but less loud, long and deep, to Northern Leopard Frog.

  • Mink Frog – Rana septentrionalis
    • 2 to 2.75 inches (thumb to small palm-size)
    • Skin smells like mink or rotten onions when rubbed
    • Green to brownish, mottled on back
    • Ponds, lakes, cold strems
    • Voice described as: burred, deep, “cut-cut-cut”.
    • Mid to late breeder

  • Northern Leopard Frog – Rana pipiens
    • 2 to 3.5 inches (thumb to palm-size)
    • Brown or green
    • Often found far from water
    • Early to mid-season breeder
    • Voice described as: Long, deep, rattling snore interspersed with grunts and clucks. Louder, deeper, longer, and sharper than similar Wood Frog.

Our thanks to Walter Knapp who provided the recordings and much of the information for this directory.

image: Pixabay