Texas Frogs

***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. ***

Due to the large number of native frogs and toads within Texas I have decided it to be easiest to split it into 3 sections: Frogs, Treefrogs and Toads.  This is part 1 so here are the native frogs to Texas.

Frogs

American Bullfrog (Rana catesbeianus)

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photo 1

The American Bullfrog is the largest frog in Texas.  They are typically green or gray-brown with brown spots. They can grow up to 6″ in length and weigh up to a 1.5 pound.  The bullfrog can be found near large permanent bodies of water with vegetation near the shorelines. They are found across Texas, except for the mountainous areas.

Bullfrogs will eat almost anything that will fit in their mouths.  They have been known to eat spiders, fish, birds and even small mammals.  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 late spring and summer.

Barking frog (Eleutherodactylus augusti)

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The barking frog is a toad-like frog which can be olive-gray to rusty-gray coloring with irregular blotches on its back and leads. It’s toes are not webbed and they have rounded outgrowth on their feet. They are typically found in caves on rocky slopes or in woodlands between 4,200 – 6,200 ft. Within Texas, it is found from central Texas SW to Del Rio and then NW through west Texas to the SE corner of New Mexico.

These frogs are very difficult to find and are located by their distinctive call which sounds like “Walk! Walk!”. They will call for 2-3 nights following the first monsoon of the season, but may be heard sporadically for the next 2-4 weeks. The female frog will stay with the eggs until they hatch and continue to provide moisture to them as needed. Unlike most frogs and toads, this species young will hatch straight from the eggs in about 20-35 days. Listen below to hear the males call.

Cliff Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus marnockii)

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The cliff chirping frog is a greenish color with brown mottling and can reach up to 1.5″ in length. It has a flattened head and body with a proportionately large head and wide spacing between its eyes. It can be found in limestone cliff crevasses and cracks. In Texas, the cliff chirping frog is restricted to the Hill Country and Edwards Plateau.

Females may lay eggs up to 3 times per year between February- December, but breeding peaks between April and May.

Couch’s Spadefoot (Scaphiopus couchii)

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The couch’s spadefoot has a dull yellow to greenish yellow coloring with brown-black spots and can reach up to 3.5″ in length.  They can be found in areas with prairie grassland and breed in pools and ponds filled by heavy rain.  In Texas, they will only be found in the western two-thirds of the state.

Couch’s spadefoot has a yeow croaking call.

Crawfish Frog (Rana 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 Texas, it is found in scattered populations across the eastern third of the state. It is rarely seen as it burrows underground.

The crawfish frog breed from late February through June.  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:

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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photo 6

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 areas of ample moisture and cover, typically near ponds with fallen logs and debris.  As shown in the photo below, they can be found in the eastern half of Texas.

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:

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.  They will hide under rocks and can sometimes be found with tarantulas.  As shown in the photo below, they can be found in the most of Texas.

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.

Green Frog (Rana clamitans)

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photo 8

The green frog 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.  The green frog is similar to the bullfrog, however the bullfrog is larger and lacks the skin fold behind the eye to mid torso.   The Green Frog is found in the eastern third of the state.

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!

Greenhouse Frog (Eleutherodactylus planirostris)

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photo 9

The greenhouse frog is a non-native frog which was introduced from the Caribbean islands.  It has a reddish brown coloring with splotches or stripes and can reach up to 1.25″ long.  They can be found on Galveston Island and can live in almost any terrestrial habitat.

The call of the male greenhouse frog sounds like sneakers on a gym floor.  Breeding occurs from May to September.  Females lay clusters of 20 eggs on the ground.  Frogs will emerge from the eggs as froglets.

Hurter’s Spadefoot (Scaphiopus hurterii)

photo 10

The Hurter’s spadefoot is typically a greenish color, however the color ranges to green-brown or almost black. There are 2 light dorsal lines on its moist skin and a bump behind his eyes. This species prefers sandy soil in a wooded area. It will typically be burrowed underground. It’s range is scattered within the eastern half of the state of Texas.

Breeding will take place in temporary pools that form during heavy rain. The Hurter’s spadefoot’s call is a loud grunt. Take a listen to it below:

Mexican Spadefoot (Spea multiplicata)

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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 west Texas along with the panhandle.

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

Mexican white-lipped frog (Leptodactylus fragilis)

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The Mexican White-lipped frog can range in color from gray to brown with dark spots. They have a cream or white line along their upper lip. They can be found along roadside ditches irrigated fields and low grasslands. Within Texas, they can be found in the extreme southern tip in Cameron, Hidalgo and Starr counties.

Female Mexican white-lipped frogs lay eggs in foam nests in a depression at the base of vegetation near water. Tadpoles are then “freed” from this nest with rains that flood the depression. Breeding takes place during heavy rains in spring.

Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris)

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photo 13

The Pickerel frog has 2 parallel rows of squareish spots down its back.  They are often found near beaver ponds with dense vegetation.  The pickerel frog may be found in the eastern third of Texas.

Female pickerel frogs lay between 700-2,900 eggs in a globular mass attached to a submerged stick or stem.  The tadpoles will transform into frogs around mid-July based on water temperature.  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 sounds similar to a low and slow snore.

Pig Frog (Rana grylio)

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The pig frog is a large frog that can reach up to 5.5″ long.  It’s body can range from greenish to brown to black with large irregular spots.  The belly is white to cream.  One distinguishing feature is the back of the thighs are boldly marked with light stripes or spots.  The American bullfrog is similar in appearance however the back of its thighs have small abundant light spots.  The pig frog can be found in the southeastern corner of the state.

Breeding occurs in March to September in quiet ponds, canals and prairies.  The female lays eggs in a large surface film over vegetation.  The male’s call sounds like a pig grunt.  Listen to them below:

Plains Leopard Frog (Rana blairi)

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photo 15

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 is known for its distinctively broken and displaced skin ridges along the back and can reach 3.5″.  They can be found near streams, ponds, creeks and ditches.  In wet, mild weather, they may be found far away from water.  The range of the Plain’s leopard frog is scattered across the panhandle and north central portion of Texas.

Female plains leopard frogs will lay a mass of eggs which can hold up to 6,500 eggs.  Tadpoles will become frogs in midsummer or may even transform the following spring.  The plains leopard frog’s call includes a few low grunting sounds along with a series of short clucks.  Listen to their call below:

Plains Spadefoot (Spea bombifrons)

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The Plains spadefoot is known for its vertically elongated pupil and markings similar to a hourglass on its upper sides.  The spadefoot may have some green on its back and sides and some tiny reddish warts.  On the underside of each hind foot, there is a wedge shaped spade.  They can be found in the panhandle and western tip of the state, however another population is present in south Texas.

The plains spadefoot spends most of its life buried in the soil, but will emerge to breed after heavy rains in spring or summer.  The plains spadefoot is an explosive breeder and many frogs will appear suddenly after a heavy rain.  A female can produce up to 2,000 eggs which will hatch in a few days.  They produce a compound in their blood which keep their blood from freezing in the winter.  The call of the plains spadefoot is a brief snoring sound.  Take a listen below.

Rio Grande Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus cystignathoides)

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The Rio Grande Chirping Frog is a tiny frog reaching up to .9″ and have brown, gray or yellow-green coloring with dark spots. They can be found in moist and shaded palm groves, thickets, ditches and lawns. Within Texas, their natural range is the extreme southern Texas, however they have been introduced into San Antonia, Houston and La Grange.

Both males and females produce chirp like calls. Listen to their call below:

Rio Grande Leopard Frog (Rana berlandieri)

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The Rio Grande leopard frog has smooth pale brown or green skin with several rows of irregular placed dark spots and a light line along the upper jaw. During the day, they will burrow into the ground to avoid the heat of the sun. It can be found in moist environments throughout west, south and central Texas.

Breeding will take place year-round on days with ample rainfall. Egg masses are laid in the water, attached to vegetation.

Sheep Frog (Hypopachus variolosus)

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The sheep frog has a small oval body with smooth brown or olive green skin and a thin yellow stripe down its back. It is known for its small head with pointy snout and webbed hind feet. It can reach 1.5″ in length. Most of the year it will hide in rat burrows, but it will emerge at night or with heavy rains late in the summer. Within Texas, it can be found in the eastern half of southern Texas.

This species is considered a threatened species by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and is fully protected by the state. They will breed between August and September. Males will call while floating in the water with their front legs resting on a stem or twig. Listen below to their call.

Southern Leopard Frog (Rana sphenocephalus)

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The southern leopard frog is a greenish brown color and has 2 yellow lines down the back and one above the lip.  These frogs prefer shallow freshwater but they can be found in slightly brackish water along the coast.  They are usually found a powerful jump or two away from the water, however in summer they may be found far from the water where they venture for insects.  They can be found throughout the eastern third of Texas.

The southern leopard frogs call sounds like a squeaky balloon or chuckling croak.  Females may deposit 3,000-5,000 eggs in cluster within the water.  Listen below to hear their call.

Spotted Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus guttilatus)

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The spotted chirping frog has a large flat body with smooth skin with a dark worm like pattern. It can reach 1.25″ in length and can be found in canyons, springs and caves. This frog is interesting as it will walk, rather than hop, however when started it can run. Within Texas, there are a handful of localities known in Brewster, Jeff Davis and Presidio counties.

Breeding occurs from February to May with females laying less than 16 eggs.

Thanks for reading! Check out all of the United State’s native frogs and toads 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 Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by J.N. Stuart.  Original Photo Here.
  3. Photo from Wikipedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Dawson.  Original Photo Here.
  4. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Clinton & Charles Robertson.  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 Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Rusty Clark.  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 Brian Gratwicke.  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 Stanley Trauth.  Original Photo Here.
  11. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Sarah Beckwith.  Original Photo Here.
  12. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Esteban Alzate.  Original Photo Here.
  13. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Brian Gratwicke.  Original Photo Here.
  14. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Tom Spinker.  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 Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Stanley Trauth.  Original Photo Here.
  17. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by going on going on.  Original Photo Here.
  18. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by az3.  Original Photo Here.
  19. Photo from Flickr Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Pavel Kirillov.  Original Photo Here.
  20. Photo from Wikimedia Commons used under the Creative Commons license.  Photo taken by Bob Warrick.  Original Photo Here.
  21. Photo from USGS National Wetlands Research Center.  Photo taken by Dana Drake.  Original Photo Here.

For more information:

  1. http://www.herpsoftexas.org/view/frogs
  2. https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/wildlife_diversity/texas_nature_trackers/amphibian_watch/amphibian_species/

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