“What kind of frogs can you find in Alberta?”
I love finding, observing, and hearing frogs!
Even as a kid, I used to patrol the swamps by my house, catching them and then trying to sell them as pets to cars passing by. As you can imagine, no one was interested in buying my frogs, and I ended up letting them go at the end of each day. 🙂
Today, I’m providing a guide to teach you about the different kinds of frogs found in Alberta.
One of the BEST ways to find frogs is to learn the noises they make. So, in addition to pictures, you will find audio samples for each species below!
5 Frog Species in Alberta:
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#1. Northern Leopard Frog
- Lithobates pipiens
- Adults range from 5 to 11.5 cm long.
- Smooth skin is green, brown, or yellow-green with large dark spots.
- Lighter-colored raised ridges extend down the length of the back.
You can spot Northern Leopard Frogs in Alberta near slow-moving bodies of water with lots of vegetation. You might see them in or near ponds, lakes, streams, and marshes. I love how bright green most individuals appear!
Northern Leopard Frog Range Map
Due to their fairly large size, these frogs eat various foods, including worms, crickets, flies, and small frogs, snakes, and birds. In one study, a bat was even observed being eaten!
During the spring breeding season, the males will float in shallow pools emitting a low call thought to sound a bit like snoring. The Northern Leopard Frog may also make a high, loud, screaming call if captured or startled.
Northern Leopard Frog populations are declining in many areas, and the cause is not exactly known. It’s thought to be some combination of habitat loss, drought, introduced fish, environmental contaminants, and disease.
#2. Wood Frog
- Lithobates sylvaticus
- Adult body lengths range from 3.8 to 8.25 cm.
- Coloration is various shades of brown, gray, red, or green, with females tending to be more brightly colored.
- Distinct black marking across the eyes, which resembles a mask.
As the name suggests, Wood Frogs are found in Alberta in moist woodland habitats, including forested swamps, ravines, and bogs. They travel widely and visit seasonal pools to breed.
Wood Frog Range Map
This incredible little frog has a wide range across North America. They have adapted to cold climates by being able to freeze over the winter. Their breathing and heartbeat stop, and their bodies produce a type of antifreeze that prevents their cells from bursting. In the spring, they thaw and begin feeding again.
Interestingly, Wood Frogs seem to be able to recognize their family. Scientists have found that as tadpoles, siblings will seek each other out and group together!
Wood Frogs are one of the first amphibians to emerge after the snow melts.
Listen for a call that sounds a bit like a clucking chicken near vernal pools and other small bodies of water!
#3. Boreal Chorus Frog
- Pseudacris maculata
- Adults range from 2.5 to 3.8 cm long.
- Coloration is brown, olive green, or tan with three dark stripes down the back that are sometimes broken into blotches.
- Prominent black stripe on each side from nostril, through the eye, and down the sides to the groin.
- Looks very similar to the Western Chorus Frog. Boreal Chorus Frogs are distinguished by having shorter legs.
While the Boreal Chorus Frog can be common in Alberta, they are rarely seen. They’re small and secretive, inhabiting moist meadows and forests near wetlands.
Boreal Chorus Frog Range Map
These frogs breed in shallow temporary ponds and pools such as flooded fields and roadside ditches. They require waters free of fish; otherwise, most of their eggs and tadpoles would be eaten!
Males produce a loud chorus of calls at breeding sites, which are easy to identify.
The sound has been compared to someone running a finger over the teeth of a comb (“reeeek“). You’re most likely to hear the calls in the late afternoon or evening.
#4. Pacific Treefrog
- Pseudacris regilla
- Adults can reach 5 cm long, with the males typically being smaller.
- Most are green or brown with pale white undersides, but some are reddish, gray, cream, or black.
- Dark mask across the eyes to the shoulders and uniformly bumpy skin.
The Pacific Treefrog can be found in a wide range of elevations in Alberta, ranging from sea level to 3,050 m (10,000 feet)!
Pacific Treefrog Range Map
Look for them in woodlands and meadows. Interestingly, these frogs spend most of their time on the ground despite being a treefrog. They even hide from predators in underground burrows!
The Pacific Treefrog travels to the shallow water of ponds and lakes to breed and lay eggs. The female attaches the eggs to sticks or other underwater debris.
Also called the Pacific Chorus Frog, this species can be heard during the spring in Alberta.
Their mating call is a two-part call that sounds like “kreck-ek” or “rib-bit.“
#5. Columbia Spotted Frog
- Rana luteiventris
- Green or brown with black spots on its back
- The upper lip and belly are white.
- Compared to other frogs, they have shorter back legs, upturned eyes, and a narrower snout.
You will almost always find Columbia Spotted Frogs near permanent bodies of water, such as ponds, lakes, slow-moving streams, and marshes. In addition, they need lots of vegetation to provide adequate protection because many different predators hunt them!
Females lay up to 1,300 eggs at a time in shallow water. Interestingly, once laid, this mass of eggs absorbs water and can grow to the size of a softball! And these eggs are not attached to anything, so they just float around until the tadpoles are ready to hatch.
To attract a female, male frogs will sing a song that ranges from long, deep sounds to clicks. You can listen to an example of the clicks below:
Do you need additional help identifying frogs in Alberta?
Try this field guide!
Which of these frogs have you seen in Alberta?
Leave a comment below!