Frogs by State

Frogs and Toads of North Carolina

Frogs and Toads of North Carolina

North Carolina has over 25 different species of frogs and toads, making it a pretty good froggin state.


North Carolina is home to a rich, variety of frogs from the family Ranidae and Hylidae.

True Frog Family – Ranidae

There are seven species of true frogs in North Carolina.

Gopher Frog (Lithobates capito) photo by Kevin Enge

The Gopher Frog is listed as an endangered species in the state of North Carolina. The frog has a nearly complete dorsal ridge and has slightly warty skin. It is found in the southern part of the state.

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American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbianus)

The American Bullfrog is the largest frog in North Carolina. The frog lacks a dorsal ridge down its back. It is found throughout the state.

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Bronze / Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans)

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 (Lithobates heckscheri)

*Species of Special Concern*

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. It was found in the southern part of North Carolina but hasn’t been seen there in over 20 years.

Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus)

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.

Pickeral Frog (Lithobates palustris)

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 North Carolina 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 (Lithobates virgatipes)

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

Tree Frog Family – Hylidae

North Carolina is home to a wide variety of tree frogs from three different genera.

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 Frog – Hyla

Pine Barrens Tree Frog (Hyla andersonii)

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

Cope’s Gray Tree Frog (Hyla chrysoscelis) and  Eastern Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor)

The Gray Tree Frogs are identical besides their calls. They also have a yellow / orange marking on their hind legs.

Green Tree Frog (Hyla cinerea)

Green Tree Frog has a white line down its side of the face and the side of its body.

Pine Wood’s Tree Frog (Hyla femoralis)

The Pine Wood’s Tree Frog has orange dots or spots on the inner back legs.

Barking Tree Frog

The Barking Tree frog has much rougher skin than any other tree frog.

Squirrel Tree Frog (Hyla squirella)

The Squirrel Tree Frog lacks a white line down its side and has smooth skins. It is found in the eastern half the state. They breed from April to August.

Chorus Frog – Pseudacris

Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona)

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

Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)

The Spring Peeper is distinguished by the X shaped marking on its back.

Upland Chorus Frog (Pseudacris feriarum)

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

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.

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.

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.

Ornate Chorus Frog (Pseudacris ornata)

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.

True Toad – Bufonidae

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.

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American Toad Anaxyrus americanus

Oak Toad (Anaxyrus quercicus)

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.

Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri)
Southern Toad (Anaxyrus terrestris)

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.


Spadefoot Toad Family – Scaphiopodidae

There is only one species of Spadefoot Toad in North Carolina.

Eastern Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus holbrookii)

The Easten Spadefoot Toad is the only species of Spadefoot toad in North Carolina so if the toad has a spade on its rear 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.

Narrowed Mouth Toad Family – Microhylidae

There is only one species of Narrowed Mouth Toad in North Carolina.

Eastern Narrow Mouth Toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis)

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.


3 thoughts on “Frogs and Toads of North Carolina”

  1. I live in Arden, Nc, and saw an unusual frog here (on my garage door window, in the rain): it as golden in color, and the body was less than 1″long, on Wednesday night, Aug.1, 2018, about 9:30 PM. Wish I’d been quick enough to catch it, since I’ve Never seen this ever before. Can anyone identify it for me?

  2. Please help me identify these Extremely small frog/toads. I have never seen anything like that and it’s as small or smaller than my fingernail. I found them in my flower bed under railroad ties under the dirt. I have 12 in an aquarium. I want to know what to feed them because I worry they would die from predators. Please help me.

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