Frogs and Toads of North Dakota

***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. ***

A frog that hibernates under the water in the winter?  Read on to discover more about the frogs  and Toads that can be found in North Dakota:

Plains Spadefoot (Spea bombifrons)

Photo 1

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 dry 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.

 

Canadian Toad (Anaxyrus hemiophrys)

Photo 2

The Canadian toad vary in color from brown to gray and may have a green or red tiny.  Belly is pale white or cream with fine speckling pattern.  These toads typically inhabit lakes, ponds and are often not far from the water.  They are nocturnal and are very strong swimmers.  They will often seek the safety of water when threatened.  Even though these toads do not have spades on their back feet like the spade toads, they will often burrow into the ground similar to the spadefoot toad.  In North Dakota, they can be found east of the Missouri River as shown below.

It’s call is similar to the American toad, however it is lower in pitch and shorter.

 

Woodhouse’s Toad (Bufo woodhousii)

Photo 3

Woodhouse’s toad can vary in color from yellowish brown to greenish grey with a light stripe down the middle of its back.  They can reach up to 5″ in length which makes it North Dakota’s largest toad!  These toads can be found in SW and southern North Dakota.  They burrow into soil to escape drought and cold.  Woodhouse’s toads are named after a 19th century explorer and naturalist Samuel Woodhouse ( Formally called the Rocky Mountain toads).

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.

 

Great Plains Toad (Bufo cognatus)

Photo 4

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″.  The great plains toad can be found in the grasslands of North Dakota, except the northern counties bordering Canada.  They burrow well in loose soil and are found at night roadside or in ditches where insects are bountiful.

A female great plains toad will lay up to 20,000 eggs.  The male 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:

 

American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus)

800px-Anaxyrus_americanus_-_American_toad.jpg

Photo 5

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  in eastern North Dakota, but are very rare in the state.  The American toad is often confused for the Canadian toad.  The American toad will often hybridize with the Canadian toads adding to the confusion.

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.

 

 

Cope’s Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis)

Hyla_chrysoscelis_UMFS_2016_5.jpg

photo 6

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.  Many older publications show both the eastern gray treefrogs and the Cope’s gray treefrog within the state of North Dakota, more recent publications only show the Cope’s 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, melodic and raspy.  Listen to the video below to hear.

 

Boreal Chorus Frog (Pseudacris maculata)

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Photo 7

The Boreal Chorus frog is North Dakota’s smallest frog at only an inch long.  They are typically brown with 3 dark lateral stripes or spots down its back with a white upper lip.  These frogs can be found in grasslands, woodlands and urban areas.  This is North Dakota’s most common frog.

The boreal chorus frog sounds similar to the spring peeper in that it sounds like fingers running over a comb, however the boreal chorus frog’s call is more tinny and mechanical opposed to the musical whistle of the spring peeper.  Females lay 500-1,500 eggs in groups of 20-300.  Listen to the call below.

 

Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus)

Lithobates Sylvaticus.jpg

Photo 8

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 can be found throughout northern and eastern North Dakota.

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.  Alaska has a very high rate of physical abnormalities for these poor frogs, including missing, shrunken or misshaped limbs or abnormal eyes.  It is currently unknown what is causing these abnormalities but it is thought to occur from some sort of chemical contaminants, parasites, UV radiation, predators, extreme temperatures during development or a combinations of these factors.

 

Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens)

Lithobates_pipiens.jpg

Photo 9

The Northern Leopard frog has 2-3 unevenly spaced rows of irregular oval shaped dots on its back.  The northern leopard frog is one of North Dakota’s most common frog along ponds and lakes.  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.  They hibernate underwater in the winter.

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.

 

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

frogs-found-in-23

Photo Credits:

Cover photo used by the creative commons license.  Text was added.  See Original photo by Carol M. Highsmith here.

  1. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Stanley Trauth.  Original Photo Here.
  2. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by ceasol.  Original Photo Here.
  3. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by J.N. Stuart.  Original Photo Here.
  4. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Galactor.  Original Photo Here.
  5. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Brian Gratwicke.  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 Andrew Hoffman.  Original Photo Here.
  8. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Brian Gratwicke.  Original Photo Here.
  9. Photo from Wikipedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Brian Gratwicke.  Original Photo Here.

For more information:

  1. https://gf.nd.gov/gnf/conservation/docs/amphibian-reptile-brochure.pdf
  2. http://www.ndherpatlas.org/group/frogs_and_toads

 

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