Frogs and Toads of South 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. ***

There are a couple frogs and toads different between North Dakota and South Dakota can you figure out which ones are different?  Read on to discover more about the frogs and Toads that can be found in South 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 SE and SW South Dakota.

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 South Dakota, they can be found in the NE corner 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!  These toads can be found in across most of South Dakota with exception of the NE corner.  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 May 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 across most of South Dakota with exception of the high elevation areas in the Black Hills.  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)

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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 South Dakota, but are 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.  The Cope’s gray treefrog is restricted to the ripariuan forests in SE South Dakota and along the eastern border up the the NE corner.  A single male was heard calling in Custer State Park which could represent an introduced population.  This species is monitored by the South Dakota Natural Heritage program.  Any sightings should be reported to the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Here.

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 South 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 frog has one of the largest distributions across the state and can be found almost statewide.

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  in the extreme northeastern corner of South Dakota.  This frog is also part of the South Dakota Natural Heritage Program.

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)

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 South 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.

 

American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)

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Photo 10

The American Bullfrog is the largest frog in North America.  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.  They can grow up to 8″ in length and weigh up to 1.5 pounds.  The bullfrog is unique as it can be found in freshwater ponds, lakes and marshes throughout Canada, United States and as far south as Mexico and Cuba.  Within South Dakota, they may be found on the southern border.

They are typically green or gray-brown with brown spots.  The bullfrog emerges from hibernation in May and typically does not start calling until its breeding time in June- July.

 

 

Blanchard’s Cricket Frog (Acris blanchardi)

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Photo 11

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 may be found in SE South Dakota along the Missouri river.  They are listed as a monitored species of the South Dakota Natural Heritage Program 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.

Tadpoles typically have a distinct black tipped tail and can reach 1″ in length.  Breeding occurs between June thru July.  The Blanchard crickets call resembles the sound of 2 ball bearings clinking together.  Listen to the video below to hear them!

 

 

Plains Leopard Frog (Rana blairi)

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Photo 12

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 South Dakota, these frogs may be found in the  south central regions and along the Missouri river and associated drainages.

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

 

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

frogs-found-in-211

Photo Credits:

Cover photo used by the CC0/public domain license.  Text was added.  See Original photo 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.
  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 Fredlyfish4.  Original Photo Here.
  12. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Andrew Hoffman.  Original Photo Here.

For more information:

  1. http://sdherps.org/
  2. http://icwdm.org/Publications/pdf/Amphibians/SouthDakotaamphibianfieldguide.pdf

 

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