Frog and Toad Photos, Videos and Natural History

There are almost 7,000 described species of frogs. They are recognized around the world for their distinctive body shape and beautiful mating songs. The term "toad" is usually applied to frogs that have two traits: (1) rough, bumpy or warty skin and (2) short legs more suited to hopping than long leaps. The toad body form has evolved multiple times over millions of years, so two species with toad-like features might only be distantly related to each other.

Like other amphibians, many frogs are facing declining populations and extinctions due to factors including habitat destruction,to disease and pollution. The goal of this page is to raise awareness of these fascinating animals, and hopefully promote their conservation.

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The text, images and videos on this site are © Michael F. Benard. To purchase prints or a license to use an image, just click on the image. More photos can be found at my smugmug natural history galleries, and more videos can be found on my youtube natural history channel.

For questions about image use, salamander biology, or other topics, please contact me via email at: mfbenard -{at}- gmail dot com

You can also follow me on twitter: Mike Benard Herpetology Twitter @BenardMF

More information on my research is available on the Benard Lab website.

Bombinatoridae

The Bombinatoridae is a family of toads consisting of eight species in a single genus, Bombina. They are commonly referred to as the "firebellied toads", due to the bright colors on their bellies. Firebellied toads are distributed across Europe and Asia. The Oriental Fire-Bellied Toad is commonly found in the pet trade, and can be purchased in pet stores across much of the United States.


Video Showing Heartbeat of Fire Bellied Toad
Oriental Firebellied Toad Tadpole
Oriental Fire-Bellied Toad Tadpole.
View of a Fire-Bellied Toad Tadpole belly
Underside of a Fire Bellied Toad tadpole
Recently metamorphosed Fire-Bellied Toad
Recently metamorphosed Oriental Fire-Bellied Toad.

Bufonidae

The members of the family Bufonidae are often known as the "true toads". Over 600 species are found in this group, and their natural distribution includes North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. One member of this group, the Cane Toad (Rhinella marina) has become an invasive species after being introduced to Australia, Hawaii and elsewhere.

Although the Bufonidae look similar to Fire-Bellied Toads and Spadefoot Toads, they are only distantly related to these groups. In fact, the true toads are more closely related to the treefrogs (Hylidae) and true frogs (Ranidae) than they are to the Fire-Bellied Toads or Spadefoot Toads.

Many of the true toads used to be assigned to the genus "Bufo". However, in 2005 a group of amphibian taxonomists proposed re-arranging the taxonomy of many amphibians, including toads. Although many of the proposed taxonomic changes are controversial, many of the changes to true toad taxonomy appear to have been accepted by much of the research community. Many of the North American toads pictured below were formerly assigned to the genus "Bufo", but are now separated into various other genera such as "Anaxyrus" and "Incilius".

American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus) are found across much of eastern North America. Adults migrate to wetlands in the spring, where males attract females with their distinctive, extended trilling call. The American Toad mating season is a hectic event, with males singing and fighting as females enter the ponds to mate. In some years and some locations, female toads are more likely to mate with larger males, however this is not always the case. There is some evidence that female American Toads prefer males that have a high rate of calling, or lower-frequency ("deeper") trills.

American Toad with Mushroom
Adult American Toad next to a mushroom in central Pennsylvania.
Portrait of a large American Toad
A large American Toad from southeastern Michigan.
Face-to-face with an American Toad
Male American Toad on the edge of a pond during the breeding season.
Calling American Toad
An American Toad among the cattails calling with inflated vocal sac.
American Toad with leech
A male American Toad with a large leech attached to its side. For some reason, during the breeding season adult toads seem to get attacked by leeches more than other amphibians.
Male toad watches mating toads.
A male American Toad watches a female toad walk by with a male clinging to her back in amplexus.

Circular ripples of water radiate away from this calling male toad as his energetic calling vibrates the water.
Nuptial Pads on American Toad
Nuptial pad on thumb of male American Toad. The Nuptial pads help the male cling to the female during amplexus; the presence of nuptial pads can be used to identify the sex of toads during the breeding season.
Mating American Toads
A male American Toad clings to the back of a female toad during the breeding season.
Mating American Toads with Eggs in a Pond
A pair of American Toads in amplexus surrounded by strings of thousands of eggs that the female laid an the male fertilized.
American Toads breeding in the moonlight.
Moonlight view of a group of breeding American Toads in a Pond.
American Toad in Breeding Pond Dead American Toad
An American Toad that died during the breeding season, likely due to drowning.
American Toad eggs
A string of fresh American Toad eggs. American toad development happens quickly; toads can go from eggs to metamorphosis in a few short weeks
American Toad Hatchlings
American Toad hatchlings with external gills still visible. The middle tadpole is from an albino female American Toad.
American Toad tadpole with hind legs
An American Toad tadpole with large hind legs. American toads can accelerate their development to escape predators like dragonfly nymphs that feed on toad tadpoles.
Cryptic baby toads hidden near mushroom
Two tiny juvenile toads hidden in the mud near a mushroom.
Two juvenile toads on a dime
Two juvenile toads perched on a dime.
Tiny Metamorphosed American Toad
Tiny recently metamorphosed toad leaving the pond. A small snail is nearby.
American Toad Portrait
Portrait of the head of an American Toad from Allegany County, New York.
American Toad on white background
American toad from Cuyahoga County, Ohio.
Blinking American Toad
American Toad blinking.

Western Toad: Anaxyrus boreas (previously Bufo boreas)
Western Toad above Lake Berryessa
Western Toad on a hillside, with the Berryessa Reservoir in the background.
Western Toad
Western Toad in a breeding pool.
Red-Spotted Toad
Red-Spotted Toad: Anaxyrus punctatus
Southern Toad
Southern Toad: Anaxyrus terrestris
Southern Toad with a red color.
Southern Toad with a nice reddish color.
Woodhouse's toad partially buried
Woodhouse's Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii) half-buried in dirt in a hollowed-out log.
Portrait of a Huge Toad
huge Woodhouse's toad seen in New Mexico.
Curious Dog and Toad
Curious dog checks out a Woodhouse's toad in New Mexico. The dog sniffed the toad, but did not lick or bite it.
Asian Black-Spined Toad
Duttaphrynus melanostictus, a toad with a variety of common names: Southeast Asian Toad, Asian Common Toad, Spectacled Toad
Gulf Coast Toad
Incilius nebulifer Gulf Coast Toad, Coastal Plain Toad

Hylidae

The Hylidae are a diverse group of treefrogs, with nearly 1,000 species distributed on all continents except Antarctica.

In the continental United States and Canada, there are three genera of native treefrogs: Acris, Hyla, and Pseudacris. The Cuban Treefrog has been introduced to the US and become established, adding a fourth genus: Osteopilus.

Cricket Frog, Acris crepitans
Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans)

Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) are one of the best-known harbingers of spring in eastern North America. They are one of the first frogs to call as snow changes to rain, and their loud "PEEP!" can be amplified by hundreds or even thousands of male peepers calling from wetlands. These small frogs are usually some shade of tan, and can be distinguished by the "X" marking across their back. Spring Peepers metamorphose at a tiny size, and can easily fit on top of a penny. Outside of the breeding season, Spring Peepers typically live in forests, and often can be found on damp days hopping around the forest floor.


Advertisement call of the Spring Peeper.
Calling Male Spring Peeper
Calling Spring Peeper with vocal sac filled.
male spring peeper with deflated vocal sac
Male Spring Peeper with deflated vocal sac.
Spring Peeper on ice-killed Wood-Frog eggs
Spring Peeper sitting on top of a mass of ice-killed Wood Frog eggs.
Identify sex of male spring peeper
Male Spring Peeper with dark, loose skin on throat. Throat coloration and skin texture can be used to tell males from females in some species of frogs.
Identify sex of female spring peeper
Female Spring Peeper with smooth cream-colored skin on throat.
Female Spring Peeper with Eggs
Eggs are visible through the translucent skin on the side of this Spring Peeper.
Male Spring Peeper Chases a rival.
One male Spring Peeper chases away a rival.
Mating Spring Peepers
A pair of Spring Peepers in amplexus.
Eastern Newt Photobombs Peepers
Mating Spring Peepers with newt in background.
Male Peepers Back to Back
Two male Spring Peepers sitting next to each other.
Baby Spring Peeper Next To Coin
A recently-metamorphosed Spring Peeper perching on a penny.
Spring Peeper tadpole about to metamorphose
Spring Peeper tadpole close to metamorphosis with large hindlimbs.

Pacific Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris regilla) are widespread in western North America, and famously appear as frog sounds in Hollywood movies and even popular music. Within their native range, Pacific Chorus Frogs can be found in a variety of habitats, including in eagle nests high in trees. These frogs sometimes are carried outside their native range on agricultural products like Christmas Trees. There is an entire page dedicated the the biology of Pacific Chorus Frogs.

Calling Pacific Chorus Frog
Calling Male Pacific Chorus Frog
Pacific Chorus Frog
Pacific Chorus Frog

Midland Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris triseriata) are found through much of Michigan, Ohio and Illinois, with some distribution into surrounding states. In much of their range, they are one of the first frogs to begin calling every year, along with Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs. Their call is a clicking trill, reminiscent of the sound made when you rub a finger along a comb.

Calling male Western Chorus Frog
caption
Two male Western Chorus Frogs
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Green Treefrog (Hyla cinerea) are found in much of the southeastern United states from Texas through Maryland. Male Green Treefrogs have an interesting (some would say "amusing"; others would say "annoying") honking call.

Calling Green Treefrog
A male Green Treefrog with vocal sac extended while calling near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina one wet August night.
Ribbon Snake eating Green Treefrog
A male Green Treefrog being eaten by a ribbon snake on a warm July night in Florida. Calling male frogs with their loud songs and conspicuous behavior can attract predators as well as females.

There are two species of Gray Treefrog in North America: the Cope's Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) and the Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor). These two species are found across much of eastern North America, and they cannot be told apart by their physical appearance. They differ in how many chromosomes they have. Cope's Gray Treefrog is diploid with 24 chromosomes, and the Gray Treefrog is tetraploid with 48 chromosomes. The Gray Treefrog originated as a new species through polyploid speciation when an ancient event caused a doubling of the number of chromosomes in Cope's Gray Treefrog. These two species can be told apart by the males' call. Cope's Gray Treefrog calls are a more rapid trill than those of the Gray Treefrog.


A male Gray Treefrog makes its distinctive trill.
Gray Treefrog living high in a tree.
Gray Treefrog living in a hole in a tree high above the ground.
Gray Treefrog living in a dumpster
Gray Treefrog living in a dumpster, where it gets plenty of flies to eat.
Gray Treefrog living in a dumpster
Close-up of the dumpster-diving Gray Treefrog.
Bubblehead Gray Treefrog
"Bubble-Head"
Treefrog Singing on Leaf
Male Gray Treefrog calling from the pond.
Mating Gray Treefrogs
Mating Gray Treefrogs in amplexus.
Gray Treefrog showing flash color on leg
Flash color on the hind legs of a Gray Treefrog.
Perching Male Gray Treefrog
Gray Treefrog in a perch on a plant.
Gray Treefrog on a finger
Gray Treefrog hanging onto a finger.
Gray Treefrog Tadpole
Gray Treefrog Tadpole. The bright red tail is an example of predator-induced phenotypic plasticity.
Predator Induced Red Tail in Treefrog Tadpole
Gray Treefrog tadpoles showing predator-induced red tail color compared to tadpole without predator-induced color.
Calling from a tree
Male Gray Treefrog calling from a tree with its vocal sac extended.

Video explaining the difference in calls between Cope's Gray Treefrog and the Gray Treefrog.

The Cuban TreeFrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) was introduced to the United States from Cuba at least as early as the 1920s, if not earlier. They are frequently moved around in horticultural material. While they are impressive-looking treefrogs, they can harm native amphibians and other animals.

Cuban Treefrog
This Cuban Treefrog showed up in a flower store in Cleveland, Ohio.
Cuban Treefrog
Front portrait of the Cuban Treefrog that arrived in Cleveland.

Ranidae

The family Ranidae is composed of over 400 species with a nearly worldwide distribution. In North America, these can be thought of as our "typical frogs" or "water frogs", although some of them spend most of their lives away from water. Here, I use the genus "Rana" for all of our North American ranid frogs. However, the taxonomy of these frogs was thrown into chaos in 2006 when a group of amphibian biologists published a 371-page paper that re-arranged the taxonomy of many amphibians. This was a controversial opinion, with many criticisms of the methodology. In 2016, another group of researchers conducted another analysis of the evolutionary history of the amphibians, and argued for the restoration of the genus "Rana" for North American members of Ranidae. Following this more recent research, and consistent with amphibiaweb, I will use the genus Rana rather than Lithobates.

Green Frogs (Rana clamitans) are found in much of eastern North America. They are one of our larger frogs, but don't get as large as American Bullfrogs.

Greenfrogs have a distinctive call like the sound of someone plucking a banjo string. I think of their call as one of the sounds of summer. From May through August, day and night, I regularly hear the twang of the Greenfrog's call when I am near wetlands in the midwest.

Calling Male Green Frog
A male Greenfrog's vocal sac inflates as it calls.

An example of the generalist nature of green frogs, this video shows an adult green frog hanging out in a vernal pool eating wood frog tadpoles. One of the interesting aspects of this is that green frogs typically don't breed in these kinds of vernal pools. Because these pools dry out every year, and green frog tadpoles typically take at least a year to metamorphose, any green frog eggs laid in this pond would not survive to metamorphosis. Yet green frogs still visit these vernal pools to feast on the wood frog tadpoles.

Male Green Frog
Male Green Frog. The size of the eardrum (tympanum) can be used to tell males from females in some species of frog. The large tympanum indicates that this Green Frog is a male.
female green frog
Female Green Frog: note the small eardrum (tympanum) behind the frog's eye. The small size tells us that this is a female frog.
Green Frog on log
Green Frog sitting on a log.
Face of a Green Frog tadpole
Looking into the eyes of a Green Frog tadpole.

American Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana ) are native to eastern North America, but have been introduced to other parts of North America and around the world (e.g., Africa, Asia, Europe). They get very large, and their prey includes insects, birds, mammals, reptiles and other amphibians. Their large size and hearty appetites combine to cause problems for native species.

Bullfrog females can lay over 20,000 eggs. In very warm weather, their tadpoles can metamorphose within a year. But in cooler environments, including much of their native rage, the tadpoles will usually take one or two years to metamorphose. Thus, the tadpoles spend at least one winter in ponds, sometimes two. Their tadpoles are also distasteful to fish, allowing them to co-exist with fish when many other amphibians can't.

male Bullfrog with damselfly perched over eye.
Bullfrog with a damselfly perched on its eye.

Bellowing male bullfrog
Calling Bullfrog shakes water into the air. .


Bullfrog floating in a pond in Livingston County, Michigan.
Bullfrog
Bullfrog
female bullfrog
Female Bullfrog
Large Bullfrog Tadpole
Large Bullfrog tadpole.
Bullfrog Tadpole
Bullfrog tadpole.
Leech eating American Bullfrog eggs
A large leech eats some fresh American Bullfrog eggs.

Pickerel Frogs (Rana palustris) have a patchy distribution throughout much of eastern North America, with large gaps in some regions. They often breed shortly after the wood frog breeding season, but before many of the summer-breeding frogs, like bullfrogs and green frogs.

Pickerel Frog
Young Pickerel Frog
Pickerel Frog in shallow stream.
Pickerel Frog in small, shallow stream.
Pickerel Frog Tadpole
Pickerel Frog Tadpole.
Metamorphosing Pickerel Frog
Metamorphosing Pickerel Frog Tadpole. The pattern of squarish blotches are beginning to appear on the back.
Metamorphosing Pickerel Frog
Belly-view of a metamorphosing Pickerel Frog. The mouth has not yet fully changed from the tadpole mouth to the adult frog mouth.

The Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens) is one member of a group of leopard frog species. It is similar in appearance to the Pickerel Frog, but the spots on its back are more irregular in appearance. It also has an early breeding season, and its tadpoles metamorphose after a couple months.

Metamorphosing Leopard Frog
Metamorphosing Leopard Frog.
Leopard Frog sitting on moss
Adult Leopard Frog on moss.
Wood Frogs (Rana sylvatica) are quite remarkable. They are found the farthest north of any North American amphibian, with populations found above the Arctic Circle. However, they are also found as far south as Alabama. Wood Frogs are one of the few amphibians that are able to survive being frozen for several months. Interestingly, warm winters can be bad for Wood Frogs. When winters are warm, they may expend too much energy during hibernation, and warm winters can even reduce the number of eggs Wood Frogs produce. Red-Colored Female Wood Frog
Female Wood Frog with a reddish coloration.
Wood Frogs in Amplexus
Photo showing Wood Frog amplexus, in which male wood frogs cling to the females during mating.
Wood Frogs in Amplexus
Two pairs of mating wood frogs floating next to some old and new eggs. The old eggs had been killed in a sudden freeze.
Underwater view of Wood Frog Eggs
Underwater view of wood frog egg masses. The embryos are well developed and approaching hatching. .
Hatchling Wood Frogs
Recently hatched wood frogs sitting on top of their old eggs. Look closely, and you can see the feathery gills still visible behind the tadpole's heads. Soon the tadpole's skin will grow over the gills and they will not be visible.

Video showing some of the dangers that wood frog tadpoles face
Wood Frog Tadpoles
Two wood frog tadpoles; one is on top of the leaf litter while the other is peeking out from under the leaves.
Metamorphosing Wood Frog
A wood frog in the process of metamorphosing. It has all four limbs, but is still absorbing its long tadpole tail.
Baby Wood Frog Next To Partridge Berry
A juvenile wood frog sitting next to Partridge Berry a few weeks after it metamorphosed from the tadpole stage.
Wood Frog on moss
An adult wood frog sitting on moss.

Scaphiopodidae

The family Scaphiopodidae is confined to North America, and contains seven species spread across two genera: Spea and Scaphiopus.

Couch's Spadefoot Toad burrowing in sand
A Couch's Spadefoot Toad partially burrowed into the sand.
Close-up of Couch's Spadefoot Toad eyeball
Close-up view of the eye of a Couch's Spadefoot Toad.
Recently Metamorphosed New Mexico Spadefoot Toad
New Mexico Spadefoot Toad
Western Spadefoot Toad
A Western Spadefoot in the water of its breeding site.
Western Spadefoot Toad
Another Western Spadefoot in the water of its breeding site.
Western Spadefoot Toad
Western Spadefoot that has recently emerged from the ground. You can still see the earth clinging to its skin.
  
Some more pages on herps and natural history:
Pacific Chorus Frog Natural History Salamander Image Gallery Buy a salamander mug. Gray Treefrog Tadpole Button
Leech eats frog eggs Coloring page of snakes Albino Toad Egg Development Predaceous diving beetle eating tadpole
Water bug with limpet snails Water Bug Eating Frog Button Kingsnake eating a garter snake Frog Calling Video Button