Frogs by State

Frogs and Toads of Alabama

Frogs and Toads of Alabama

Frogs

The frog species in Alabama come from two families, Ranidae – the true frog family and Hylidae – the tree frog family. There are 31 species of frogs from both families that are found in the state, making it the second most froggiest state in the United States.

True Frogs – Ranidae

Alabama contains 10 frogs from the family Ranidae, the True Frog family.

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Bronze Frog /Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans)

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American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)

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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.

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Gopher Frog (Lithobates capito) photo by  Kevin Enge
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Dusky Gopher Frog (Lithobates sevosus) photo by U.S. Department of Agriculturep

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Mississippi Gopher Frog or Dusky Gopher Frog is a critically endangered frog and is most likely extinct in Alabama so if you think you see it, it is more likely to be the Gopher Frog.

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River Frog (Lithobates heckscheri) photo by USGS

The 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.

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Pickeral Frog (Lithobates palustris)  photo by Brian Gratwicke
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Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus) photo by Bob Warrick

Pickeral Frog and the Southern Leopard Frog,  look very much a like. The Pickeral Frog has more square shaped spots on its back while the Southern Leopard frog has more circular ones.

The Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) is a very easy to identify because of their mask around their face.

Crawfish Frog (Lithobates areolatus)

The Crawfish Frog gets its name from living in crawfish holes. Its has skin fold on the side and a small typanum.

Tree Frogs – Hylidae

Alabama is blessed with a variety of tree frogs, 15 to be exact. They fall into 3 genera: the Cricket Frogs – Acris, Chorus Frogs – Pseudacris, and regular tree frogs – Hyla

Cricket Frogs – Acris

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Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans)

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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.

Chorus Frogs  – Pseudacris

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Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona)
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Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)

Spring Peeper and the Mountain Chorus Frog, , are similar but the markings on their back can be used to tell them apart. The Spring Peeper has an X on its back while the Mountain Chorus Frog has 2 backwards parenthesizes that look like )(. Sometimes they touch that can kinda look like an x but there’s also a dark triangle between its eyes that the Spring Peeper doesn’t have.

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Upland Chorus Frog (Pseudacris feriarum)
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Southern Chorus Frog (Pseudacris nigrita)

The Upland Chorus Frog and the Southern Chorus Frog look extremely alike. The main differences is in their calls and where they are found. The Upland Chorus Frog is found in the Piedmont and Mountain areas while the Southern Chorus Frog is found in the Coastal Plains.

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Little Grass Frog (Pseudacris ocularis)
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Ornate Chorus Frog (Pseudacris ornata) photo by USGS

The Ornate Chorus Frog and the Little Grass Frog can appear similar in pictures but the Little Grass Frog is really tiny. Its usually about a half an inch big. Also the dark band that runs down the side of the Little Grass Frog is uninterrupted while the Ornate Chorus Frog has breaks.

Tree Frogs – Hyla

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

Pine Barrons Tree Frog is identifiable because of its purple stripe from its eye down its side. It is found along the southern part of the state.

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Green Tree Frog (Hyla cinerea)
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Barking Tree Frog (Hyla gratiosas) 
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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.

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Pinewoods Frog (Hyla femoralis)
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Cope’s Gray Tree Frog (Hyla chrysoscelis)
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Bird-Voiced Frog (Hyla avivoca)

The Cope’s Gray Tree Frog, 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 color on the thigh while the Bird-Voiced Frog is more greenish-yellow. The Pinewoods Frog has dots / spots on the inner thigh.

Toads

True Toads – Bufonidae

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.

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Oak Toad (Anaxyrus quercicus)

The Oak Toad is the most easily identifiable toad out of the true toads in the state. 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. It is found in the southern part of the state.

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American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus)

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Southern Toad (Anaxyrus terrestris)
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Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) photo by Jimpaz

The remaining three species of toads in Alabama 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.

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Narrow Mouthed Toad – Microhylidae

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Eastern Narrow Mouthed Toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis)

The Eastern Narrow Mouthed Toad is the only narrow mouthed toad in Alabama. One could potentially misidentify it has a Spadefoot toad because of its burrowing lifestyle but the head is narrower and there’s no spade on the back feet.

Scaphiopodidae – Spadefoot Toad Family

Eastern Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus holbrookii) photo by Riechvaugen

The Eastern Spadefoot Toad is the only Spadefoot toad in Alabama so it can easily be identified because of the spade on its back legs.

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2 thoughts on “Frogs and Toads of Alabama”

  1. The frog I wantnidentified is on my front porch every night. He’s pretty big and isn’t scared off by me at all. I have pictures and videos of him. I’d love to know what type he is. I’m torn between a gopher frog, American toad & Fowler toad. Please help.

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