An article entitled, Ohio’s Frog and Toad Species, states that there are 15 species in our state. To help me to learn to identify these species, I wanted to see photos of all 15 on one page. I selected a representative photo, but be aware that there can be a lot of variation in color for frogs of the same species. Below each photo, I note the range of colors that are possible for that species.
The “True” Toads
Eastern American Toad (Bufo americanus americanus)
The Eastern American toad does vary in color. It may be reddish, gray, or tan.
Video of American Toad vocalizing: YouTube
Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri)
The Fowler’s toad may be brown, tan, gray, or light green. Although the Fowler’s toad and the eastern American toad can be hard to tell apart, one way to distinguish them is to look at their “warts.” An American toad will generally have only one or two “warts” per dark spots on its back, while a Fowler’s toad will have three or more “warts” per dark spot. In addition the bumps on the leg of the American Toad tend to be more pronounced than those of the Fowler’s toad.
Note that the scientific name has been changed from Bufo fowleri to Anaxyrus fowleri.
The Spadefoot Toads
Eastern Spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrookii)
The Eastern spadefoot is called that because there is a dark, hard bulge on each of its hind feet that serves as a kind of spade or shovel. The animal uses the spades to burrow backwards into sand or soft soil. The Virginia Herpetological Society has included a nice photo of the foot in their article on The Natural History of the Eastern Spadefoot.
There are two yellow lines on the eastern spadefoot’s back. It is the only frog/toad on this page whose pupils are vertical.
In Ohio this toad primarily lives in our extreme southeast region. ODNR’s distribution maps seems to show it residing in the following counties: Lawrence, Meigs, Washington, Athens, and Morgan. However in their written description of the range for this species, they also mention the counties of Coshocton and Tuscarawas.
The “True” Frogs
American Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana)
The American bullfrog’s back may be green or brown.
Northern Green Frog (Rana clamitans melanota)
The back of the Northern Green Frog may be green or brownish green. It may or may not have noticeable spots. When it doesn’t seem to have spots, you can still distinguish it from the American Bullfrog because the Northern Green Frog has a ridge going down each side of its back, while the American Bullfrog does not.
The adult northern green frog is between 2.25 and 3.5 inches long. It is found in shallow fresh water. When it croaks, it sounds like a loose banjo string. On average they live between four and fifteen years.
Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris)
The Pickerel frog may be tan, light brown, or olive-green. Note that the spots between the folds on the frog’s back have a squarish quality. A couple of photos follow showing variations in color.
Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens pipiens)
The northern leopard frog may be tan, light brown, or olive-green. Note that the spots have a light-colored border. In comparison with the spots on the back of the Pickerel frog, those on the northern leopard frog are more narrow and more randomly placed across the back, while those on the Pickerel frog are more squarish and are lined up in two rows.
Southern Leopard Frog (Rana sphenocephala utricularius)
The Southern Leopard Frog may be green or brown. Unlike the Northern Leopard Frog, the spots of the Southern Leopard Frog don’t have a light border.
Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica)
Wood frogs are typically dark brown or tan, but occasionally individuals have been discovered that are a reddish color, orange or even pink.
Ohio Division of Wildlife video on a Spring Chorus of Wood Frogs
The Tree Frogs
Northern Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer crucifer)
The back of the Northern Spring Peeper is some combination of yellow, brown, tan, reddish, or olive-green.
Blanchard’s Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans blanchardi)
It is also known as the Eastern Cricket Frog. This frog may be brown, gray or olive-green.
Gray Tree Frogs
Cope’s gray tree frogs (Hyla chrysoscelis)
The Cope’s gray tree frog (above) and the Eastern gray tree frog (below) are supposed to look virtually identical, but they are very different genetically. You might be saying to yourself, “Hey, they don’t look so very identical to me.” But as mentioned at the top of this post, this is part of the normal variability in color that occurs in many of these species. Typically these two species are gray, but they can change to green.
However Cope’s gray tree frog is only found in the southern third of Ohio while the Eastern gray tree frog is widely distributed throughout the state, so if you spot a gray tree frog in the northern reaches of Ohio, it is reasonable to assume that it is an Eastern gray tree frog.
Eastern Gray Tree frog (Hyla versicolor)
Ohio Division of Wildlife video on The Call of the Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor)
Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona)
The Mountain Chorus Frog may be light brown or olive-green.
Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata triseriata)
The Western Chorus Frog’s back is brown, gray, tan or olive-green.
Ohio Division of Wildlife video on the Western Chorus Frog
- PA Herps: Frogs & Toads Of Pennsylvania
- Marshall Herpetology Lab: Frogs and Toads of West Virginia
- Daviess County Audubon Society: Frogs of Kentucky
- Indiana DNR: Frogs and Toads Of Indiana
- Michigan DNR: Michigan's Frogs & Toads