Michigan Frogs and Toads

Michigan initiated the Michigan frog and toad study in 1988 to monitor the long term populations of frogs and toads.  Learn more about how you can help here.

Here are the frogs  and Toads that can be found in Michigan:

Eastern American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus)

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Photo 1

The American toad is mainly nocturnal and is most active when the weather is warm and humid. During the winter, the toad will burrow deep into the ground below the frost line.  As the frost line gets deeper, the toads will burrow deeper beneath the ground. They can be found throughout Michigan and the state touts them as being a great insect eater; as a modest sized toad can eat on average 3,200 insects a season.

american toad range mi.jpg

The toad has a high musical trill which can last upwards of 30 seconds.  American toad is highly terrestrial and can only be found in the water for a short period while breeding and laying eggs.  Below is a video that shows the American Toad calling.

Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri)

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Photo 2

The Fowler’s toad is usually brown, grey, olive green and rust red in color with darkened warty spots.  As these toads become adults, a pale stripe will form down its back.  The belly is usually whiteish with one dark spot.  These toads can be found within the extreme western and southern lower pennisula of Michigan.

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This toad has a long, loud, high pitched W-A-A-A-H-H-H call.  Listen to it in the video below!    It is said that they can be mistaken for a herd of sheep calling in the night.  The Fowler’s toad will make a series of quick, short hops as the American toad will make a few larger hops.  The fowler’s toad will amplexus in May & June.  The female can release 7,000 -10,000 fertilized eggs which will hatch 2-7 days later.

Blanchard’s Cricket Frog (Acris blanchardi)

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Photo 3

The Blanchard’s cricket frog is a small treefrog that’s skin color is quite variable.  The skin color can range from brown, green,grey or reddish tan and may change based on environmental conditions.  The cricket frog was once abundant throughout southern Michigan, however in the 1970’s-1980’s their population has dwindled.  They are listed as a species of special concern in Michigan and any sightings of them shall be reported to the DNR.  They can be found near ponds, lakes and adjacent streams and tend to breed in quiet water.  The cricket frog cannot withstand inundation for more than 24 hours and are not freeze tolerant, which may help attribute to their short lifespan.

blanchards cricket frog range mi.jpg

Tadpoles typically have a distinct black tipped tail and can reach 1.9″ in length.  Breeding occurs between mid-May thru mid-August.  The Blanchard crickets call resembles the sound of 2 ball bearings clinking together.  Listen to the video below to hear them!

Eastern Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor)

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Photo 4

The grey treefrog may range in color from green to brown to grey (as shown above).  During the day, they may be found sleeping on tree branches or leaves.  Their toes have a sticky pad which allows them to easily climb vertically up windows, siding, trees; etc.  They may be found throughout the state.

gray treefrog range mi.jpg

Female grey tree frogs may lay 1,000-2,000 eggs in clusters of 10-40.  Tadpoles can be distinguished by their redish-orange tails.  Male grey treefrogs have a short melodic trill that lasts only a second.  They will generally call on warm and humid evenings between April & July. Below is a video of the Gray treefrog calling.

Cope’s Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis)

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photo 5

The Cope’s gray treefrog is smaller and smoother skinned than the gray treefrog.  The gray treefrog and Cope’s gray treefrog can be difficult to tell apart during breeding while they are both mottled.  However, most of the time the Cope’s gray treefrog has a solid lime green colored back.  These frogs are common statewide.

copes gray treefrog range mi.jpg

Another way the Cope’s gray treefrog can be distinguished from the gray treefrog is by its call.  The Cope’s gray treefrog’s call is short and raspy.  Listen to the video below to hear.

Northern Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)

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Photo 6

The  spring peeper is one of Vermont’s smallest frogs measuring from 1″ to 1-1/2″.  It can be distinguished by it’s dark colored “X”across its back.  This frog is Michigan’s most abudnant frog and can be found throughout the state of Michigan in woods next to vegetated swamps and marshes.

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It’s chorus of a shrill high pitched call can be heard from up to a 1/2 mile away!  Listen to its call in the video below.  Similar to the American toad, these frogs spend most of its time on land and only are in the water to breed and lay eggs.  Like most tree frogs, the spring peeper is nocturnal and loves to hunt ants, spiders and other small insects during the evening.

American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)

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Photo 7

The American Bullfrog is the largest frog in North America.  They are typically green or gray-brown with brown spots. They can grow up to 8″ in length and weigh up to 1.5 pounds.  The bullfrog can be found near large permanent bodies of water with vegetation near the shorelines.  They can be found statewide, but the numbers have been greatly reduced due to over-harvesting of frog legs.

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It has a very deep call which resembles the mooing of a cow.  Watch the video below to hear!  Both genders of the bullfrog croak.  Their calls may be heard day or night between June-July.

Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans)

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The Green Frog is abundant throughout Michigan.  It is typically greenish-brown with dark mottling on its head, chest and under its legs.  The throat color ranges to yellow for a male to white for the females.

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These frogs can produce as many as 6 different calls – however the most distinctive sound is a throaty boink that sounds like a loose banjo string being plucked.  Listen to the video below to hear!

Mink Frog (Lithobates septentrionalis)

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Photo 9

The Mink frog is a green and brown frog that can be found in the water near lilypads.  The lilypads are used as stepping stones, basking sites & shelter.  Vermont is at the southern edge of the Mink frogs range.  They are only found in the upper peninsula and they are generally uncommon throughout the state of Michigan.  Mink frogs are notoriously secretive and can be hard to find.

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The female may lay up to 4,000 eggs in the spring and some tadpoles will transform to frogs in 3 months, while others will transform the following spring.  Individually, their call sounds like a series of taps which sound like pieces of wood being tapped together.  As a group, their calls sound like horse’s hooves on a cobblestone path.  Listen to the video below to hear!  The Mink frog has been said to produce a musky odor upon handling.

Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus)

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The Wood frog is known as a brown, tan or rust colored frog with a dark colored around its eyes.  Some call it a “robbers mask”.  These frogs are common in moist habitats statewide.

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Their call sounds like a quacking of a duck.  Watch the video below to hear!  Two interesting facts about the wood frog, is that while the frogs do not show any paternal care to their young, it has been discovered that tadpoles that have been separated from parents can pick their parents out and aggregate around them.  Secondly, the wood frog is very tolerable to cold temperatures.  These frogs can tolerate complete freezing of up to 65% of their body as they pump any water within their body to their extremities and at the same time pump large amount of glucose from the liver into their cells.  This creates a syrupy sugar solution which acts as antifreeze within their body.  Their blood will freeze, the heart will stop beating and all breathing and muscle movements cease until early spring as they begin to thaw and re-animate.

Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens)

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The Northern Leopard frog has 2-3 unevenly spaced rows of irregular oval shaped dots on its back.  The northern leopard frog is fairly common throughout the state of Michigan; used to be the most abundant frog, but recently numbers have fallen.  It needs 3 different habitats to match its lifestyle – permanent water for overwintering, floodplains & marshes for breeding & meadows and fields for foraging.

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These frogs are opportunistic feeders, meaning that they will eat anything that fits in their mouth including beetles, ants, smaller frogs – including their own species, birds and even garter snakes.  It’s call is like a low and rumbling snore and grunt sound.  It has also been known to scream loudly when grasped or frightened by a predator.  Listen below to their call.

Pickerel Frog (Lithobates palustris)

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The Pickerel frog looks very similar to the Northern Leopard frog; however the pickerel frog has 2 parallel rows of squareish spots down its back.  These frogs are rare statewide, however they may be locally common.  They are often found near beaver ponds with dense vegetation.

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As a defense the skin of the pickerel frog produces a toxic substance which makes them unappealing to most predators.  Listen to the video below to hear their call.  It is similar to the Northern Leopard frog, however it is shorter and faster, causing it to sound more like a finger running over tines on a comb.  Breeding season in Michigan is April-May.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for our next state!

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Photo Credits:

Cover photo used by the creative commons license.  Text was added.  See Original photo by WFGC here.

  1. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Brian Gratwicke.  Original Photo Here.
  2. Photo from Wikipedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Perlick Laura.  Original Photo Here.
  3. Photo from Wikipedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Fredlyfish4.  Original Photo Here.
  4. Photo from ADW  used under the creative commons license.  Photo taken by James Harding.  Original Photo Here.
  5. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Fredlyfish4.  Original Photo Here.
  6. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Matt Reinbold.  Original Photo Here.
  7. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Brian Gratwicke.  Original Photo Here.
  8. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Brian Gratwicke.  Original Photo Here.
  9. Photo from ADW  used under the creative commons license.  Photo taken by James Harding.  Original Photo here.
  10. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Brian Gratwicke.  Original Photo Here.
  11. Photo from Wikipedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Brian Gratwicke.  Original Photo Here.
  12. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Brian Gratwicke.  Original Photo Here.

For more information:

  1. http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10370_12145_12201—,00.html

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