Frogs and Toads of North Carolina
North Carolina is home to a rich, variety of frogs from the family Ranidae and Hylidae.
There are seven species of true frogs in North Carolina.
The Carolina Gopher Frog is a subspecies of the Gopher Frog. The dorsal ridge of the frog is nearly complete. It is found in the southern part of the state.
The American Bullfrog is the largest frog in the state. The frog lacks a dorsal ridge down its back. It is found throughout the state.
The Green Frog looks identical to the American Bullfrog but it has an incomplete dorsal ridge. The frog is found throughout the state.
River Frog does not have a dorsal ridge which is a key identification characteristic. Its skin is also a lot more rough and wrinkly than another true frogs. It is found in the southern part of the state.
The Southern Leopard frog has large spots on its body and a complete dorsal ridge. It is found pretty much everywhere besides the western edge of the state.
The Pickeral Frog can be easily confused with the Leopard Frog but the Pickeral Frog has more rectangular “spots” than the leopard. It is found around the state besides on the coast.
Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) is a very easy to identify because of their mask around their face. It is mainly found only the western edge of the state but there are some populations closer to the coast.
Carpenter Frog is identifiable because of their brown color and two yellow lines that run down their back.
North Carolina is home to a wide variety of tree frogs from three different genera.
Cricket Frogs – Acris
The Cricket Frogs look really similar but there’s a few ways to tell them apart. The Southern Cricket Frog has a more pointed snout while the Northern Cricket Frog, has a more blunt snout. The Southern Cricket Frog doesn’t have as much webbing on the back legs as the Northern Cricket Frog.
Tree Frog – Hyla
Pine Barrons Tree Frog is identifiable because of its purple stripe from its eye down its side.
The Gray Tree Frogs are identical besides their calls. They also have a yellow / orange marking on their hind legs.
Green Tree Frog has a white line down its side of the face and the side of its body.
The Pine Wood’s Tree Frog has orange dots or spots on the inner back legs.
The Barking Tree frog has much rougher skin than any other tree frog.
The Squirrel Tree Frog lacks a white line down its side and has smooth skins.
Chorus Frog – Pseudacris
Mountain Chorus Frog can be identified by the marking on its back. The mark looks like )(.
The Spring Peeper is distinguished by the X shaped marking on its back.
The Upland Chorus Frog has three stripes down its back. The stripes are often broken.
The Southern Chorus Frog is the darkest of all the Chorus Frogs. It has three stripes that can be broken or even spots.
Little Grass frog has a line that runs through the eye and down its side. There are no spots on its chest.
Brimley’s Chorus Frog has a line that runs through the eye and down its side. It has spots on its chest.
Ornate Chorus Frog has a line that runs through the eye and down its side. The lines are often broken.
North Carolina has a good amount of different toad species from three different families. Only members of the family Bufonidae produce Bufotoxin, a toxin that you don’t want to ingest.
North Carolina’s true toads kinda all look alike so identifying them can be hard. These toads are toxic so don’t eat them and wash your hands after touching them.
The Oak Toad is the most easily identifiable toad out of the group of four. It is the smallest of the group and has a light line down its back. The Oak Toad also has orange on the bottom of its feet.
The remaining three species of toads in North Carolina are a lot harder to distinguish between. To identify the differences, you have to look at the top of the head. The Southern Toad has knobs on the back of its head. The Fowler’s Toad’s parotid gland touches its postorbital ridge around its eye while the American Toads’s parotid gland does not touch or connected to it by a spur. Here’s an easy map I found that helps me.
There is only one species of Spadefoot Toad in North Carolina.
The Easten Spadefoot Toad is the only species of Spadefoot toad in North Carolina so if the toad has a spade on its foot, its the Eastern Spadefoot toad. Its found mostly in the eastern half of the state but there are some populations in the western part.
There is only one species of Narrowed Mouth Toad in North Carolina.
The Eastern Narrow Mouth Toad is the only Narrowed Mouth toad in the state. Their narrow head makes them easy to identify. It is found in the eastern half of the state. The toads can create secretions that humans do not want to get into their eyes or mouth. Please wash your hands after handling them and all frogs and toads.