Colorado 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 there is a toad with red warts?  I have also found a new personal favorite – the green toad.  Read more below about the frogs  and Toads that can be found in Colorado below:

American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)

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Photo 1

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 almost statewide, but they were introduced throughout Colorado and are seen as an invasive amphibian.

bullfrog range CO.jpg

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.

Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens)

Lithobates_pipiens.jpg

Photo 2

The Northern Leopard frog has 2-3 unevenly spaced rows of irregular oval shaped dots on its back.  The northern leopard frog can be found statewide in mountains and lowlands, but is rarely seen in SE Colorado and Republic River drainage in NE Colorado.  It needs 3 different habitats to match its lifestyle – permanent water for overwintering, floodplains & marshes for breeding & meadows and fields for foraging.

northern leopard frog range CO.jpg

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.

Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans)

Photo 3

The northern 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 Cricket frog would be found in NE Colorado although it has not been seen since 1979.   They may be found near permanent water sources like slow moving streams, margins of lakes and ponds or around marshy areas.

NORTHCRICKET

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.

Canyon Tree Frog (Hyla arenicolor)

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Photo 4

The Canyon tree frog measures an average of 2″ in length.  They only occur along the rocky stream courses within canyons.  They can be seen basking on rocks or hiding in crevices.  The canyon tree frog may be found within the W-SW areas of Colorado.

CANYON

The canyon tree frog will breed in pools alongside of the streams primarily in spring, but have been known to breed after heavy summer rains as well.  This frogs call sounds like a machine gun, engine turning or a woodpecker drumming.  It is a loud, nasal, rapidly stuttering ah-ah-ah.  This usually lasts 1-2 seconds.

Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata)

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Photo 5

The western chorus frog is known for its dark stripe on the side of the body which extends from snout to groin.  The sides of its body can range between green – brown – reddish.  These frogs can be found nearly statewide, but may be harder to find in SE Colorado.  Their habitat ranges from low river valleys to over 12,000 feet in the mountains as shown by the map below.

chorus.gif

The western chorus frog makes a preeeeep sound that will ascend in pitch.  Listen to the call below!

Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica/ Lithobates sylvaticus)

Photo 6

The wood frog has a dark mask on its face and a light stripe down its back.  It can be found in marshes, forests, meadows, lakes, ponds and even in potholes.  They can be found in the mountains surrounding North Park around 7,000-9,800 feet elevation as shown on the map below.  

The wood frog females will lay her eggs in a mass the size of a tennis ball.  This mass will include several hundred eggs.  This frog has an unusual call which sounds like a chorus of ducks quacking.  Listen to its call below!

Great Plains narrow mouth toad (Gastrophryne olivacea)**

**Although it bears the name of “toad” it is actually considered to be a frog.

Photo 7

This frog is typically 1.5″ in length, with females being slightly larger.  One defining characteristic of this frog is the fold of skin on the back of the frogs head.  The great plain narrow mouth toad is grey or brown in color with smooth thick skin.  It can be found in grassy areas on rocky slopes and in rock filled canyons.  They will hide under rocks and can sometimes be found with tarantulas.  As shown in the photo below, they can be found in the SE Colorado, but are generally scarce.

The great plains narrow mouth toad’s call is a nasal buzz lasting only 1-4 seconds.  Several calling frogs together sound like bees or a bunch of toy airplanes.  I was very surprised by the pitch of their call.

Plains Leopard Frog (Rana blairi)

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Photo 8

This frog is brown with large rounded dark spots with light borders.  As you can see from the photo above, the ear drum is very distinct.  The plains leopard frog can reach 3″.  They can be found near streams, ponds, creeks and ditches.  In wet, mild weather, they may be found far away from water.  In Colorado, these frogs may be found in the Arkansas river drainage area in the SE and the Republican River drainage in the NE.

The plains leopard frog’s call includes a few low grunting sounds along with a series of short clucks.  Listen to their call below:

Great Plains Toad (Bufo cognatus)

Photo 9

Different from the Great Plains narrow-mouth toad, the Great Plains Toad has numerous warts and prominent ridges on its head.  The females will typically reach 4.5″ with males being less than 4″.  They can be found in grasslands, sandhills and semi-desert shrubland.  The Great Plains narrow mouth toad can be found throughout eastern Colorado and the San Luis valley as seen below.

The Great Plains toad has a long trill call that lasts several seconds long and can vary depending on the size of the male and the temperature.  Some people have compared this toad’s call to a jackhammer, but go ahead and listen to it for yourself below:

Green Toad (Bufo debilis)

Photo 10

This toad is a very unique shade of green with small black spots and irregular lines.  It can reach around 2″ in length.  This toad spends most of its life underground and emerges to breed in pools after heavy rains in late spring or summer.  They can be found in the plains grasslands and canyon bottoms in SE Colorado.

The green toad’s call is a flat buzz that lasts from 2-8 seconds.  Listen to him go below:

Red Spotted Toad (Bufo punctatus)

Photo 11

The red-spotted toad is unique due to its gray or brown coloring and red/orange warts.  They can reach 3″ in length and can be found in rocky canyons and streams or burrowing under rocks.  Typically found in SE and SW Colorado as shown below.

The red-spotted toad has an unusually high pitched trill which can last 3-12 seconds.  During the breeding season, the males throat color may darken.

Woodhouse’s Toad (Bufo woodhousii)

Woodhouse's Toad
Photo 12

Woodhouse’s toad can vary in color from yellowish brown to greenish grey with a light stripe down the middle of its back and can reach up to 5″ in length with the males being smaller than females.  These toads can be found primarily in deep soils in river valleys and flood plains.  They burrow into soil to escape drought and cold.  Woodhouse’s toad can be found statewide at elevations up to 8,000 feet in the San Luis Valley.

These toads breed from April to June in marshes, rain pools and other areas lacking strong current.  This toad’s call is a loud wahhhhhh lasting between 1-4 seconds and emitted several times a minute.

Plains Spadefoot (Spea bombifrons)

Photo 13

The Plains spadefoot is known for its vertically elongated pupil and markings similar to a hourglass on its upper sides.  The plains spadefoot spends most of its life buried in the soil, but will emerge to breed after heavy rains in spring or summer.  They can be found in sandhills, grassland and the plains of eastern Colorado and the San Luis Valley as shown below.

The call of the plains spadefoot is a brief snoring sound.  Take a listen below.

Great Basin Spadefoot (Spea intermontana)

Photo 14

Similar to the Plains spadefoot, the Great Basin spadefoot has a vertical pupil as well.  They can be greenish, gray or brown with a scattering of darker spots and blotches.  Each spadefoot has a wedge shaped spade on their hind feet, hence the name.  They can be found in pools and ponds or flooding in basins in or near NW and western Colorado.  They are locally common but seldom seen as they spend most of their life buried under the soil.

Their call is a very nasal waaaaa sound.  Listen to it below:

New Mexico Spadefoot (Spea multiplicata)

Photo 15

This spadefoot is similar to other spadefoots with vertical pupils, wedge spade on its back feet.  It can be gray or brown with numerous dark spots reaching up to 2.5″ in length.  They can be found in SE & SW Colorado in grasslands or semi-desert shurbland.

The New Mexico spadefoot’s call is a stuttering croak that varies in length and duration with increased temperature.

Couch’s Spadefoot (Scaphiopus couchii)

Photo 16

The couch’s spadefoot has a dull yellow to greenish yellow coloring with brown-black spots and can reach up to 3″ in length.  They can be found in areas with prairie grassland and breed in pools and ponds filled by heavy rain.  In Colorado, they will only be found in the SE Otero county at elevations below 4500′.

Couch’s spadefoot has a yeow croaking call.

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

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Photo Credits:

Cover photo used by the creative commons license.  Text was added.  See Original photo by Hogs555 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 Brian Gratwicke.  Original Photo Here.
  3. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren.  Original Photo Here.
  4. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Kerry Matz.  Original Photo Here.
  5. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Todd Plerson.  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 Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Fernando Mateos-Gonzalez.  Original Photo Here.
  8. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Andrew Hoffman.  Original Photo Here.
  9. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Galactor.  Original Photo Here.
  10. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Gregory ‘Slobirdr’ Smith.  Original Photo Here.
  11. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Lon & Queta.  Original Photo Here.
  12. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by J.N. Stuart.  Original Photo Here.
  13. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Stanley Trauth.  Original Photo Here.
  14. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Kerry Matz.  Original Photo Here.
  15. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Sarah Beckwith.  Original Photo Here.
  16. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Clinton & Charles Robertson.  Original Photo Here.

For more information:

  1. http://coloherps.org/reference/sort_amphibians.htm
  2. http://cpw.state.co.us/documents/education/studentactivities/coherpquickkey.pdf
  3. http://www.reptilesofcolorado.com/amphibians-of-colorado.html
  4. http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/SOC-ThreatenedEndangeredList.aspx

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5 thoughts on “Colorado Frogs and Toads

  1. Love your state frogs and toads. I was wondering if you did one on Missouri? Did I miss it?

    Thanks for your website.

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