West Virginia Frogs and Toads

***This post is a part of my series where this year I will be highlighting all of the different states native frogs and toads.  Check out this page to see all of the United State’s native frogs broken down by state. ***

Did you know that in West Viriginia you can possess no more than 25 amphibian eggs, tadpoles or larvae (in aggregate)?  This applies to any of the frogs seen below.  There is a possession limit of 20 american bullfrogs and green frogs and it is illegal to possess any eastern spadefoot toads, northern cricket frogs or northern leopard frogs.  Otherwise all  other frogs you may possess four of.  #nowyouknow.

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

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 Pennsylvania and they are one of the most common amphibian species in West Virginia.

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 are abundant throughout its range within West Virginia.

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 June& July.  The female can release 7,000 -10,000 fertilized eggs which will hatch 2-7 days later.

 

Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor)

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Photo 3

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 eastern panhandle of West Virginia.

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.

 

Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)

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The  spring peeper is one of West Virginia’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 very common throughout the state of West Virginia in woods next to vegetated swamps and marshes.

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.

 

Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona)

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Photo 5

The mountain chorus frog is a small species which ranges from tan to light brown with a dark brown mottling pattern.  This species is not associated with water and is typically found near woodlands.  The mountain chorus frog can be found in the central Appalachian mountains or the SE portion of West Virginia.   The mountain chorus frog has a high pitched call which sounds similar to a fire alarm.  Listen to the call below!

 

American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)

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Photo 6

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 are common throughout West Virginia.

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 May and August.

 

Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans)

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Photo 7

The Green Frog is abundant throughout West Virginia and can be found in almost every town.  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.  They can be found throughout West Virginia.

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!

 

 Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus)

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Photo 9

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 found statewide and within almost every town in West Virginia; including the highest peaks of the highest mountains!

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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Photo 10

The Northern Leopard frog has 2-3 unevenly spaced rows of irregular oval shaped dots on its back.  The northern leopard frog has been found in the eastern portion of the state along the Ohio River.  It needs 3 different habitats to match its lifestyle – permanent water for overwintering, floodplains & marshes for breeding & meadows and fields for foraging.

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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Photo 11

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 common throughout West Virginia.  They are often found near beaver ponds with dense vegetation.

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.

 

Eastern Spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrookii)

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Photo 12

The Eastern Spadefoot has smoother and more moist skin than most toads and is speckled with very tiny warts.  This species varies in color from tan or yellowish to dark brown without bold spots like other southern toads.  They usually have 2 vertical light lines running from the back of their eyes down their dorsum creating a hourglass shape.  The lines are usually more visable in males.  The Eastern Spadefoot toad has not been observed within West Virginia for many years.  It is listed as a species of special concern by the state of West Virginia.

The Eastern Spadefoot prefers dry habitats with sandy soil, but can be found in almost any habitat.  Their ability to remain buried for long periods of time allows them to live in suburban and agricultural areas.  These spadefoots spend almost all of their time buried under ground, with the exception of breeding time.  During breeding time, the spadefoots emerge from their burrows and the male will let out a short explosive “wank” call which sounds like a call of a crow.  Something odd about these guys is that some people believe that the Eastern spadefoot smells like peanut butter.

 

Cope’s Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis)

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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 can be found west of the mountains by itself and then throughout the ridge and valley province along with throughout the mountains with the gray treefrog.

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.

 

Blanchard’s Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans blanchardi)

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The Blanchard’s Cricket frog measures an average of 1.5″ in length with the females being slightly larger.  These frogs can jump a surprisingly long way (5-6′) for their small size.  They can range a combination of black, yellow orange or red on a base of brown or green.  The Blanchard’s Cricket frog can be found in the western counties along the Ohio & Kanawha rivers in West Virginia.  However this frog has not been seen or heard from in the past 10 years.  They may be found near permanent water sources like slow moving streams, margins of lakes and ponds or around marshy areas.

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This frog was named for its breeding call which sounds very much like a chirp or trill of a cricket repeated for about 20 beats or like 2 pebbles clicked together.  Listen to its call below.

 

Upland Chorus Frog (Pseudacris feriarum)

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Upland chorus frogs are usually brown, grey brown or reddish brown in color with darker blotching.  They have 3 stripes running along their back with a dark triangular spot between the eyes.  These frogs are secretive and rarely seen or heard except immediately after it rains.  They can be found in a variety of habitats including vegetated areas not far from a permanent water source.  In West Virginia, they are confined to the ridge and valley in the eastern panhandle.  Since the 1980’s they have no longer been found in the southern counties.  The blue area represents their current range with the red showing where they were previously.

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The call of the upland chorus frog is a raspy trill sound which ascends higher in pitch, similar to running a finger across tines on a comb.  Listen to the males call below.

 

Thanks for reading! Check out all of the United State’s native frogs and toads here.

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Photo Credits:

Cover photo used by the CC0/public domain license.  Text was added.  See Original photo 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 ADW  used under the creative commons license.  Photo taken by James Harding.  Original Photo Here.
  4. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Matt Reinbold.  Original Photo Here.
  5. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Andrew Hoffman.  Original Photo Here.
  6. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Brian Gratwicke.  Original Photo Here.
  7. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Brian Gratwicke.  Original Photo Here.
  8. Photo from ADW  used under the creative commons license.  Photo taken by James Harding.  Original Photo here.
  9. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Brian Gratwicke.  Original Photo Here.
  10. Photo from Wikipedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Brian Gratwicke.  Original Photo Here.
  11. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Brian Gratwicke.  Original Photo Here.
  12. Photo from Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection.  Original photo here.
  13. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Fredlyfish4.  Original Photo Here.
  14. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren.  Original Photo Here.
  15. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Andrew Hoffman.  Original Photo Here.
  16. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by National Park service employee.  Original Photo Here.

For more information:

  1. http://www.marshall.edu/herp/ANURANS.HTM
  2. http://www.wvdnr.gov/Wildlife/RepAmph.shtm
  3. http://www.wvcommerce.org/App_Media/assets/publications/naturalresources/ReptilesAndAmphibiansRegulations.pdf

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