Frogs by State

Frogs and Toads of South Carolina

Frogs and Toads of South Carolina


South Carolina is home to a rich variety of frogs from a few different families.

True Frog Family – Ranidae

American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)
Bronze /Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans)
Pig Frog (Lithobates grylio)

The American Bullfrog is the largest frog in the North America. It looks very similar to the Green Frog but the dorsal ridge wraps around the tympanum while the Green Frog’s dorsal ridge is incomplete and does not extend all the way to its rear. The American Bullfrog is also very similar to the Pig Frog  but the Pig Frog has bolder spots / stripes on the back of its thighs while the Bullfrog has light spots.

River Frog (Lithobates heckscheri)

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.

Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus)

The Southern Leopard Frog has large spots on its body. The skin is smooth.

Pickeral Frog (Lithobates palustris) photo by Brian Gratwicke

The Pickeral Frog looks like the leopard frog but has rectangular spots on its back.

Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) is a very easy to identify because of their mask around their face. They can vary in color from brown, red, and silver.

Gopher Frog (Lithobates capito) photo by Kevin Enge

The Gopher Frog is listed as an endangered species by the state of South Carolina. The frog has a nearly complete dorsal ridge and has slightly warty skin.

Carpenter Frog (Lithobates virgatipes)

Carpenter Frog is identifiable because of their brown color and two yellow lines that run down their back.

Tree Frog Family – Hylidae

Cricket Frogs – Acris

Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans)
Southern Cricket Frog (Acris gryllus)

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 Frogs – Hyla

Bird-voiced Frog (Hyla avivoca)
Cope’s Gray Tree Frog (Hyla chrysoscelis) and Eastern Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor)

 Cope’s Gray Tree Frog and Eastern Gray Tree Frog are identical besides their calls.

Pinewood’s Tree Frog (Hyla femoralis)

The Gray Tree Frogs, Pinewoods Frog, and the Bird-Voiced Frog look very much a like. The difference is the coloration on the inner thigh. Cope’s Gray Tree Frog has brighter orange-yellow color on the thigh while the Bird-Voiced Frog is more greenish-yellow. The Pinewoods Frog has dots / spots on the inner thigh.

Pine Barrens Tree Frog (Hyla andersonii) photo by R. Tuck of the USFWS

Pine Barrens Tree Frog is identifiable because of its purple stripe from its eye down its side.

Green Tree Frog (Hyla cinerea)
Barking Tree Frog (Hyla gratiosas)
Squirrel Tree Frog (Hyla squirella)

The Green Tree Frog, Squirrel Tree Frog, and Barking Tree Frog are all very similar. The Barking Tree Frog has much rougher skin than the others. The Green Tree Frog has a white line down its side.

Chorus Frogs – Pseudacris

Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona)

Mountain Chorus Frog can be identified by the marking on its back. The mark looks like )(.

Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)

The Spring Peeper is a tiny chorus frog. It has a distinct X shape on its back.

Southern Chorus Frog (Pseudacris nigrita)

The Southern Chorus Frog is the darkest of all the Chorus Frogs. It has three stripes that can be broken or even spots.

Upland Chorus Frog  (Pseudacris feriarum)

The Upland Chorus Frog has three stripes down its back. The stripes are often broken.

Brimley’s Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brimleyi)

Brimley’s Chorus Frog has a line that runs through the eye and down its side. It has spots on its chest.

Little Grass Frog (Pseudacris ocularis)

Little Grass frog has a line that runs through the eye and down its side. There are no spots on its chest.

Ornate Chorus Frog (Pseudacris ornata) photo from the USGS

Ornate Chorus Frog has a line that runs through the eye and down its side. The line can often be broken.


True Toad Family – Bufonidae

American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus)
Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri)
Oak Toad (Anaxyrus quercicus)
Southern Toad (Anaxyrus terrestris)

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 South 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.


Spadefoot Toad Family – Scaphiopodidae

Eastern Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus holbrookiiphoto by Riechvaugen

The Eastern Spadetoad is the only spadefoot toad in the state. They have a keratonized sheath on their rear feet that helps them dig.

Narrowed Mouth Toads – Microhylidae

Eastern Narrow Mouth Toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis) photo from the USGS

The Eastern Narrow Mouthed Toad is the only narrowed mouth toad in the state. Their heads are narrow and pointed.

Invasive Species

Greenhouse Frog

The Greenhouse Frog is a small frog native to the Caribbean. It has spread around because of the trade of tropical plants.


2 thoughts on “Frogs and Toads of South Carolina”

  1. I saw a black toad with orange spots the other day and was wondering if it was poisonous. I have 3 young children and a dog who love to outside, need to know. Thanks


    1. It has some toxins in its skin, if your kids touch the toad, just make sure they wash their hands. Also don’t let your kids eat the toad. If the dog eats it, it might feel unwell for a few days and might puke or have diarrhea


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