“What kind of frogs can you find in Canada?”
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 Canada.
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!
14 Frog Species in Canada:
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#1. American Bullfrog
- Lithobates catesbeianus
- Adult body lengths range from 9.1 to 15 cm.
- Coloration is typically olive green, with some individuals having gray or brown mottling or spots.
- Fully webbed back feet.
The American Bullfrog is the largest frog in Canada!
Believe it or not, they can grow to weigh as much as .7 kg.
American Bullfrog Range Map
Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS
Green = native range. Red = introduced range.
Bullfrogs can be found in permanent bodies of water, including swamps, ponds, and lakes. During the breeding season, the male frogs select egg sites in shallow waters, which they defend aggressively. A female will then select a male by entering his territory.
They are named for their deep call, which is thought to sound like a bull bellowing.
Bullfrogs are known to eat just about anything they can fit in their mouth and swallow! The list of prey includes other frogs, fish, turtles, small birds, bats, rodents, insects, crustaceans, and worms. I have personally witnessed one even trying to eat a baby duck!
#2. 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 Canada 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.
#3. Green Frog
- Lithobates clamitans
- Adult body lengths range from 5 to 10 cm, and the females are typically larger than males.
- Coloration is normally green or brown with darker mottling or spots on the back.
- Ridges run down the sides of the back and they have webbed hind feet.
Green Frogs are one of the easiest frogs to find in eastern Canada.
Green Frog Range Map
Look for them in permanent bodies of water, including lakes, ponds, swamps, and streams. They spend most of their time near the shoreline but jump into deeper water when approached. They also breed and lay eggs near the shore, typically in areas with aquatic vegetation.
The Green Frog produces a single note call that is relatively easy to identify. Listen for a noise that sounds like a plucked banjo string, which is often repeated.
To hunt, they use a “sit and wait” approach, so they are fairly opportunistic. Green Frogs will try to eat almost anything they can fit inside their mouth. The list includes spiders, insects, fish, crayfish, snails, slugs, small snakes, and even other frogs!
#4. Spring Peeper
- Pseudacris crucifer
- Adults are small and range from 2.5 to 3.8 cm long.
- They’re typically tan or brown, with the females being lighter in color.
- Both males and females usually feature a darker cross or ‘X’ on their back.
These tiny frogs can be found all over eastern Canada.
You’ll typically spot Spring Peepers on the forest floor among the leaves. However, they do have large toe pads that they use for climbing trees.
Spring Peeper Range Map
You can find them in ponds and small bodies of water in the spring, where they breed and lay eggs. After hatching, the young frogs remain in the tadpole stage for about three months before leaving the water.
Spring Peepers get their name from their distinctive spring chorus. They’re thought to sound a bit like baby chickens’ peeps, and they are most often heard in early spring! LISTEN BELOW!
Their calls are very distinctive, and once you know what to listen for, these frogs are very easy to identify by sound.
#5. Gray Treefrog
- Dryophytes versicolor
- Adult body lengths range from 3.8 to 5 cm.
- Mottled gray, green, and brown coloring. Look for a whitish spot beneath each eye.
- Bumpy skin, short snouts, and bright orange on the undersides of their legs.
Chameleons aren’t the only animal that can change colors! This incredible frog can slowly change colors to match what it’s sitting on to camouflage itself. They can vary from gray to green or brown. It’s common for their back to display a mottled coloring, much like lichen.
Gray Treefrogs are ubiquitous throughout eastern Canada. You’ll spot them in a wide variety of wooded habitats, from backyards to forests to swamps.
Gray Treefrog Range Map
They stick to the treetops until it’s time to breed. Gray Treefrogs prefer to mate and lay eggs in woodland ponds without fish. They’ll also use swamps and garden water features.
Gray Treefrogs are easier to hear than to see.
Listen for a high trill that lasts about 1 second, which is commonly heard in spring and summer.
*Gray Treefrogs are essentially identical to Cope’s Gray Treefrogs. The only way to tell the difference is to listen to their breeding calls. You can learn more by visiting this site.*
#6. Pickerel Frog
- Lithobates palustris
- Adult body length ranges from 5 to 10 cm.
- Dark green-brown coloration with two rows of dark squarish spots running down its back. Bright yellow color on the underside of hind legs.
- Females are typically darker and larger than males.
Pickerel Frogs prefer cool, clear waters in Canada. You can find them in ponds, rivers, lakes, slow-moving streams, and even ditches.
Pickerel Frog Range Map
During the breeding season, the males attract females with a low, snore-like call. The females will attach egg masses to branches in cool water, where the tadpoles will spend 87-95 days before becoming frogs.
Pickerel Frogs are the ONLY poisonous frog native to Canada.
When attacked, they produce toxic skin irritations that can be fatal to other animals and may cause skin irritation in humans if handled. As you can imagine, most predators leave them alone!
#7. 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 Canada 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!
#8. Western Chorus Frog
- Pseudacris triseriata
- Adult body length up to 4 cm long.
- Smooth skin with color that varies from gray to green or brown.
- Dark brown or gray stripes that run down the back, dark stripe from the snout through the eye, and white stripe on the upper lip.
- Also called the Midland Chorus Frog.
In Canada, look for the Western Chorus Frog in woodland ponds, marshes, swamps, meadows, and grassy pools.
Western Chorus Frog Range Map
For breeding, they try to find bodies of water without fish, including flooded fields, beaver ponds, roadside ditches, marshes, and shallow lakes and ponds. The female attaches small masses of eggs to underwater vegetation.
Western Chorus Frogs are secretive and nocturnal, so they can be hard to spot. Your best way to locate one is to use your ears.
Listen for a unique call that is rapid and relatively short and sounds a bit like running your finger over the teeth of a comb.
#9. Mink Frog
- Lithobates septentrionalis
- Adult body lengths range from 4.8 to 7.6 cm.
- Coloration is green with darker green or brown blotches. Cream, yellow, or white underside.
- Bright green lips and webbed hind feet.
The Mink Frog gets its name from the unusual scent it produces when handled. It’s believed to smell like a mink or rotting onions!
These small frogs are primarily aquatic and can be found in ponds, lakes, swamps, and streams, particularly in wooded areas. They favor areas with water lilies which they utilize for protection from predators.
During the breeding season, the males produce a rapid series of croaks thought to sound like tapping a hammer on wood.
When large numbers of Mink Frogs gather together in Canada and croak in chorus, many people think it sounds like horses walking down a cobblestone street. 🙂
Interestingly, tadpoles remain in the larval stage for a year before turning into a frog!
#10. 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 Canada, 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.
#11. 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 Canada, 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.
Their mating call is a two-part call that sounds like “kreck-ek” or “rib-bit.“
#12. Coastal Tailed Frog
- Ascaphus truei
- Adults are 2.5 – 5 cm long.
- Rough skin with a coloration of brown to olive green. Large, flattened head with a light triangular mark between the snout and eyes.
- Slightly webbed hind feet, hard toe tips, and the males have a tail-like extension of their cloaca.
This species might be the most unique frog in Canada!
Coastal Tailed Frog Range Map
Unlike most other species, the Coastal Tailed Frog is found in steep, fast-moving, rocky streams. This habitat has caused this species to develop several unique adaptations.
They have reduced lung size, likely to control buoyancy, and hard toe tips to help them travel along the bottom of these streams. They also have a greater number of vertebrae than other frogs. Lastly, these frogs lack ear membranes, which means they CAN’T vocalize.
Tailed frogs get their name from a unique habitat adaptation, the male frog’s cloacal extension. This extension is used to insert sperm into the female so it isn’t lost in the fast-moving water. They are the only North American species of frog to reproduce through internal fertilization.
The females lay strings of eggs under rocks in the stream. The tadpoles have a large oral sucker which allows them to attach themselves to smooth stones in turbulent water. It takes the tadpoles one to four years to mature into adult frogs.
#13. Northern Red-legged Frog
- Rana aurora
- Adult body lengths range from 5 to 10 cm, with the females being larger.
- Reddish-brown to gray with dark specks and blotches, dark mask, and light stripe on the jaw.
- Yellow underside with red on the lower abdomen and hind legs.
The Northern Red-legged Frog is typically found in Canada near slow-moving streams and ponds. They prefer shaded areas with plenty of emergent vegetation, which they use as defense from predators.
Northern Red-legged Frog Range Map
These frogs require cool water temperatures to reproduce, so the breeding season begins early, between January and March. The males select territories and produce a soft mating call with 5-7 repeating notes sounding a bit like, “uh-uh-uh-uh-uh.” They make this call both under and above water.
The females produce large egg masses, which they attach to rotting logs and submerged vegetation typically 5 to 6 inches below the water surface. Believe it or not, Northern Red-legged Frogs can live for 12 to 15 years!
#14. 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?
Try this field guide!
Which of these frogs have you seen in Canada?
Leave a comment below!