Frogs and Toads of Iowa
If you are looking to identify a specific frog and can’t figure it out from the page, you can check my Frog Identification and see how to contact me about helping you out.
Common Name: Crawfish Frog
Scientific Name: Rana areolatus
Location: Southern border of the state
The Crawfish Frog gets its name from living in crawfish holes. Its has skin folds on the side and a small tympanum. It also has a pair of vocal sacs for calling.
Common Name: Plains Leopard Frog
Scientific Name: Rana blairi
Location: Southern half
Common Name: Northern Leopard Frog
Scientific Name: Rana pipiens
Common Name: Southern Leopard Frog
Scientific Name: Rana sphenocephalus
Location: Southern border
The Southern Leopard Frog has a white spot on its tympanum which can help differentiate the species from the other two. The Plains Leopard Frog is different from the Southern and Northern Leopard Frog because of its dorsal ridge. The Plains Leopard Frogs has a break and an indent near its butt while the North and South Leopard Frog just has a straight line.
Common Name: Pickeral Frog
Scientific Name: Rana palustris
Location: Along the Mississippi River
Pickeral Frog looks like the leopard frogs but its spots are more rectangular than the leopard frogs.
Common Name: American Bullfrog
Scientific Name: Rana catesbiana
The American Bullfrog is the biggest frog in the state, capable of reaching over 7 inches long. The mature males of the species have bright yellow colored throats.
Common Name: Green Frog
Scientific Name: Rana clamitans
Location: Eastern half of the state
The Green Frog and American Bullfrog looks the same but the Bullfrog can grow larger and they lack a dorsal ridge down their back.
Common Name: Blanchard’s Cricket Frog
Scientific Name: Acris blanchardi
The Blanchard’s Cricket Frog is a relatively small frog. It’s skin appears the roughest out of all the tree frogs in the state. It has no distinct markings on it’s body.
Common Name: Eastern Gray Tree Frog
Scientific Name: Hyla versicolor
The Cope’s Gray Tree Frog and the Gray Tree Frog are nearly identical besides the fact that their calls and chromosome numbers are different. It’s the largest tree frog in the state.
Here is a video of some Eastern Gray Tree Frog males calling that I took.
Common Name: Cope’s Gray Tree Frog
Scientific Name: Hyla chrysoscelis
Common Name: Spring Peeper
Scientific Name: Pseudacris crucifer
Location: Eastern border
The Spring Peeper’s call is one of the first signs of spring. Some consider the call to be annoying but I enjoy it. The Spring Peeper has a distinct X on it’s back.
Common Name: Boreal Chorus Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudacris maculata
Location: Throughout the state
The Boreal Chorus Frog is a rather small frog that can be distinguished from the other frogs in the state by the 3 lines that run down its back.
The True Toads are your typical toad. They usually have a parotid gland behind their eyes that contain a poison called It is not advised to let your dog eat these guys.
Common Name: American Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus americanus
The cranial crest of the American Toad does not touch the toad’s parotoid gland or connects to it with a spur while the other toads in the state have their cranial crest touch their parotoid gland.
Common Name: Great Plains Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus cognatus
Location: Northwestern part
The Great Plains Toad has V shaped cranial crest which is unique for the toads in the state.
Video of a male Great Plains Toad calling by Annika Enloe
Common Name: Woodhouse’s Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus woodhousii
Location: Western edge of the state
The Cranial Crest of the Woodhouse’s Toad do not touch and are opposing L shaped. The toad is found in the western side of state
Common Name: Fowler’s Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus fowleri
Location: Western border of the state
The Fowler’s Toad is found in the southeastern part of the state which can help with distinguishing it from the Woodhouse’s Toad. It has prominent cranial crests that touch the parotoid gland.
Common Name: Plains Spadefoot Toad
Scientific Name: Spea bombifrons
Location: Western border of the state
The Plains Spadefoot Toad is the only spadefoot toad in the state. It can be identified by the spade on it’s rear legs.