Frogs by State

Frogs and Toads of Iowa

Frogs and Toads of Iowa


True Frog Family – Ranidae

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.

Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens)

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.

Pickeral Frog looks like the leopard frogs but its spots are more rectangular than the leopard frogs.

American Bullfrog (Rana catesbiana)

Green Frog (Rana clamitans)

The Green Frog and American Bullfrog looks the same but the Bullfrog can grow larger and they lack a dorsal ridge down their back.

Tree Frog Family  – Hylidae

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.

Cope’s Gray Tree Frog and Eastern Gray Tree Frog (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.

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.

The Boreal Chorus Frog is found throughout the state. It’s a rather small frog that can be distinguished from the other frogs in the state by the 3 lines that run down its back.


True Toad Family – Bufonidae

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American Toad (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. The American Toad is found throughout the state.

The Great Plains Toad is found in the Northwestern part of the state. It has V shaped cranial crest which is unique for the toads in 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

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.

Spadefoot Toad Family – Scaphiopodidae

The Plains Spadefoot Toad is the only spadefoot toad in the state. It is found on the eastern side of the state. It can be identified by the spade on it’s rear legs.

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