5 Types of Frogs Found in Utah! (ID Guide)

What kind of frogs can you find in Utah?”

Common Utah Frogs

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 Utah.

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 Utah:


#1. American Bullfrog

  • Lithobates catesbeianus

Common Tree Frog species in Utah

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adult body lengths range from 3.6 to 6 inches.
  • 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 Utah!

Believe it or not, they can grow to weigh as much as 1.5 pounds (.7 kg). Unfortunately, these massive frogs are not native to Utah and were introduced from the eastern half of the country. Their giant appetites can be incredibly destructive to native ecosystems.

American Bullfrog Range Map

american bullfrog range map

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

Utah Frogs species

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 2 to 4.5 inches 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 Utah 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

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. Boreal Chorus Frog

  • Pseudacris maculata

Common Frogs in Utah

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 1 to 1.5 inches 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 Utah, they are rarely seen. They’re small and secretive, inhabiting moist meadows and forests near wetlands.

Boreal Chorus Frog Range Map

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGSchorus frog range map - boreal, western, upland

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. Canyon Treefrog

  • Dryophytes arenicolor

Frogs species that live in Utah

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults range from 1-2 inches in length.
  • Typically brown, gray-brown, tan, or gray-green with darker, irregular blotches on the back. They often match the color of their habitat.
  • They sometimes appear golden in direct sunlight, and the inside of the hind legs is bright yellow.

Canyon Treefrogs are found in rocky areas in Utah. They may be called treefrogs, but this species is mainly found perched on boulders and rock faces near permanent water sources.

Canyon Treefrog Range Map

canyon tree frog range map

During the hottest part of the day and periods of low rainfall, Canyon Frogs will seek shelter in rock crevices. They sometimes cluster together in these areas to help reduce moisture loss. They also have tougher skin on their back than most frog species to help them cope with their hot, dry climate.

You may hear the male’s low call during the breeding season, which is sometimes thought to sound like a distant sheep or goat. Since they are nocturnal, your best bet is to hear one at night.

 

Breeding occurs during spring rains, and the females lay large masses of 100 or more eggs which float in the water.


#5. Columbia Spotted Frog 

  • Rana luteiventris

columbia spotted frog

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Utah?

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2 Comments

  1. I grew up in Utah and lived in downtown Ogden in the 1960’s. As a child I remember catching very small frogs in my backyard. I was told then they were penny frogs. We would in the backyard and Fong them in the grass at night. I remember them being dark colored with dark stripping. Do they still exist in the state?

    1. I live in ogden, and I hear frogs all over the place, but I’ve never seen them. It is not crickets, they like to hang out in shrubs and trees and are frequently overhead. I love them. I mist them with the hose and they continue singing. I really want to know what they are.