Tennessee 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. ***

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

American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus)

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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 Tennessee.

Most American toads don’t survive more than a year in the wild, however some have lived to 10 years old. Captive raised, they have reached 36 years old. 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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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 Tennessee.

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.

https://youtu.be/ezHxi2DEHOE

Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor)

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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.  The distribution throughout Tennessee is not well known. Some sources indicate statewide distribution, while others show only in the western portion of the state.

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)

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 in woodlands near water. It will occur throughout Tennessee and have been heard calling at elevations of 6,300 ft.

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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.

Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona)

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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 or hilltops.  The mountain chorus frog can be found in the Cumberland plateau in the Cumberland Mountains and in the extreme northeast and southeast portions of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The mountain chorus frog has a high pitched call which sounds similar to a fire alarm or a squeaky wagon wheel.  Listen to the call below!

American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)

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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 Tennessee permanent bodies of water.

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 March and August.

Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans)

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The Green Frog is abundant throughout Tennessee 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. 

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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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 in the eastern half of Tennessee in moist woodlands.

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.

Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephala)

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The Southern Leopard frog has 2-3 unevenly spaced rows of irregular oval shaped dots on its back.  The southern leopard frog has been found statewide, except for the higher elevations in the east of Tennessee.  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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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)

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 can be found statewide, except in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It spends most of its time underground so the status is unknown.

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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 throughout the state of Tennessee.

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 Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans)

The Northern Cricket frog measures an average of 1″ 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. They may be found near permanent water sources like slow moving streams, margins of lakes and ponds or around marshy areas. They are common in Tennessee although their numbers have been declining.

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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)

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 Tennessee, they are found statewide, however they are rarely seen.

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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.

Eastern narrow mouth toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis)**

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

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This frog is typically 1″ 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 eastern 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.  In Tennessee, they can be found statewide, except for in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The male eastern narrow mouth toad’s belly will create a substance that will stick the mating pair together.  The female will lay up to 850 eggs on the surface of the water.  They will take 2 days to hatch and will be toadlets within a quick 30-60 days.  It’s call sounds similar to a bleating sheep with a baaaaa.  Several calling frogs together sound like bees or a bunch of toy airplanes.  I was very surprised by the pitch of their call.  Have a listen below:

Green Treefrog (Hyla cinerea)

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The green treefrog is slender frog that ranges from bright green to dull green with a white stripe down its side.  These frogs can reach 2.5″ and can be easily frightened.  They are typically found within marshes, swamps, small ponds and streams, but can also be found within brackish water sources.  Within the state of Tennessee, they can be found within cypress swamps and marshes within the western portion of the state.

On average, a female will lay 400 eggs.  Breeding takes place May through July.  It has been noted that the green treefrog will choose its prey not based on size, but based on activity level.  With the most active being eaten first.  The male’s call is a single note repeated over and over sounding like a “queenk”.  Listen to their call below.

Crawfish Frog (Lithobates areolatus)

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This frog has a large and stubby body with a distinct humped back while it rests.  It is covered in many irregular shaped spots and its belly is solid white.  It gets its name from its diet which consists of nocturnal beetles, small amphibians and reptiles and crawfish.  The crawfish frog can be found in low lying areas including meadows, prairies, brush fields and crawfish holes.  In Tennessee, they are thought to be decreasing in numbers due to carnivorous fish. They can be found in the western portion of the state, but is rarely seen as it burrows underground.

The crawfish frog breed from late February through April.  The males will gather in a fishless pond and call.  The females can lay up to 7000 eggs group in large 5-6″ clumps.  The pond must maintain through mid-June while all of the froglets transform.  The crawfish frog has a loud and deep call which reminds me of a hog.  Listen to them below:

Barking Treefrog (Hyla gratiosa)

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The Barking treefrog is the largest frog native to Delaware; reaching 3″ in length.  It is known for its bright green color with dark brown spots.  It occurs in 4 separate areas within Tennessee; the Cumberland plateau, the coastal plains of west Tennessee, the eastern highland rim and north central Tennessee.

Their call is a loud ‘Tonk’ sound which from the distance the chorus can sound like barking dogs.  Breeding lasts March- August and it is a polygamous species; with the female choosing the male based on his call.  The barking treefrog can be found high within the treetops, but also burrowing within sand when temperatures get hot.  Listen to their call below.

Southern Cricket Frog (Acris gryllus)

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The Southern Cricket frog measures an average of 1″ 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, but all have a bright stripe of color running from the tip of their snout down their back, broken with a triangle pattern between the eyes. They may be found near permanent water sources like slow moving streams, margins of lakes and ponds or around marshy areas. They are common in Tennessee although their numbers have been declining.

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.

Bird-voiced Treefrog (Hyla avivoca)

Bird Voiced Tree frog
Hyla Avicoca
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The color of the bird-voiced treefrog is highly variable and can vary between gray or green with irregular marks on their back. They have a light spot under the eye and yellow-green to pale green flash colors on their thighs. The bird-voiced treefrog may be found in swamps along rivers and large creeks in the western portion of Tennessee.

Their call is a ringing birdlike whistle repeated 20+ times. This call can be heard mid-April thru August. The bird-voiced treefrog is nocturnal and arboreal, only coming from the trees to breed. Listen to their call below.

Gopher Frog (Lithobates capito)

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This frog has a large and stubby body with a distinct humped back while it rests.  It is covered in many irregular shaped spots on its back and a mottled belly. The gopher frog can be found in wooded areas where it spends the daylight hours in burrows of other animals.  In Tennessee, they are extremely rare and have only been recorded at Tullahoma in Coffee County.

The gopher frog is an explosive breeder and all healthy adults breed at once. Females will lay egg masses of up to 7,000 eggs. The gopher frog has a very low snoring sound call which lasts for a few seconds. Listen to them below:

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

Cover photo used by the creative commons license.  Text was added.  See Original photo by Niagara66 here.

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 Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Bob Warrick.  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.
  17. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Rusty Clark.  Original Photo Here.
  18. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Jarek Tuszynski.  Original Photo Here.
  19. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Andrew Hoffman.  Original Photo Here.
  20. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Todd Plerson.  Original Photo Here.
  21. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Stephen Friedt.  Original Photo Here.
  22. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Greg Schechter.  Original Photo Here.
  23. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Original Photo Here.

For more information:

  1. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

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3 thoughts on “Tennessee Frogs and Toads

  1. I never saw many frogs or toads when I was living in TN, but I used to hear them a lot. I loved sitting on my mother’s back porch as evening came and into the dark listening to the sounds of the frogs and insects.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  2. I was hoping you could help me identify these 2 toads my son caught. I’ve been all over the internet. I can email you the pictures or post them here? Let me know. Thank you in advanced!

  3. I just want to thank you for providing such a wonderfully detailed collection of Tennessee frogs along with useable information and great photographs and videos of each species. We live in the woods and saw a frog tonight we had never seen before. I went to Google and, fortunately, found your website where I was able to identify our little visitor as an Eastern Narrow Mouth Toad. You’re awesome!

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