“What kind of frogs can you find in Virginia?”
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 Virginia.
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!
16 Frog Species in Virginia:
RELATED: 30 Common SNAKES That Live in Virginia! (ID Guide)
#1. American Bullfrog
- Lithobates catesbeianus
- 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 Virginia!
Believe it or not, they can grow to weigh as much as 1.5 pounds (.7 kg).
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
- 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 northern Virginia 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 2 to 4 inches, 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 Virginia.
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 1 to 1.5 inches 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 Virginia.
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 1.5 to 2 inches.
- 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 Virginia. 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 2 to 4 inches.
- 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 Virginia. 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 Virginia.
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 1.5 to 3.25 inches.
- 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 eastern Virginia 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. Southern Leopard Frog
- Lithobates sphenocephalus
- Adult body lengths range from 2 to 3.5 inches.
- Coloration is brownish to green with large darker green or brown spots on its back, sides, and legs.
- Lighter ridges extend down the sides of the back, and the upper jaw sometimes has a light, yellow stripe.
The Southern Leopard Frog will occupy various freshwater habitats in Virginia. They are more terrestrial than many other true frogs and are often seen far from water. It’s also common to spot these frogs out on rainy nights!
Southern Leopard Frog Range Map
They breed during the winter and spring, particularly during periods of heavy rainfall. These frogs often nest communally, and the females attach egg masses to aquatic vegetation.
Make sure to listen for their low, chuckling croak! Some people describe the sound like a “squeaky balloon” or a “ratchet-like trill.”
For food, Southern Leopard Frogs primarily eat invertebrates, such as insects and crayfish.
#9. Northern Cricket Frog
- Acris crepitans
- Adults from 0.75 to 1.5 inches long.
- Irregular color patterns including grays, greens, browns, yellows, and blacks.
- A dark triangular spot between the eyes, blunt snout, warts, and dark banding on the legs.
This frog is one of the smallest vertebrates found in Virginia!
But even though they are tiny, they can jump over 3 FEET in a single jump to escape predators, in addition to being excellent swimmers.
Northern Cricket Frog Range Map
Although Northern Cricket Frogs are part of the treefrog family, they don’t spend much time in trees. Typically you can find them in ponds and lakes with plentiful vegetation as well as slow-moving rivers.
This frog gets its name from its unique call. As you can probably guess, the Northern Cricket Frog makes a breeding call that sounds like the repeating chirp of a cricket.
#10. Southern Cricket Frog
- Acris gryllus
- Adults are small and range from 0.5 to 1.25 inches long.
- Irregular color patterns, including black, brown, red, green, and gray.
- Dark triangle between their eyes and a bright-colored stripe running from their snout down their back.
This tiny frog is a great jumper, reaching heights of more than 60 times its body length!
Southern Cricket Frog Range Map
In southeast Virginia, the Southern Cricket Frog is primarily found in coastal plain bogs, bottomland swamps, ponds, and wet ditches. This species is extremely similar in both appearance and behavior to the Northern Cricket Frog.
As the name suggests, Southern Cricket Frogs give a distinctive, repetitive cricket-like chirping call.
#11. American Green Treefrog
- Dryophytes cinereus
- Adults can grow up to 2.5 inches long and have smooth skin.
- Yellowish-green to lime green with pale yellow or white undersides.
- White stripes down their sides sometimes have black borders.
Even though they are common in their range, Green Treefrogs can be hard to find in eastern Virginia since they spend most of their lives high in trees. They also can change color based on light and temperature.
American Green Treefrog Range Map
During mating season, they visit ponds, lakes, marshes, and streams to breed and lay eggs. They prefer bodies of water with a lot of vegetation.
Their breeding call is a repeated, abrupt, nasal “bark.“ Sound is typically the best way to locate these treefrogs.
Green Treefrogs are often kept as pets. They are popular because of their attractive appearance, size, and how easy it is to take care of them. For example, they don’t require artificial heating like most amphibians. But being nocturnal, it’s unlikely you will see them moving around much, so they are probably not the most exciting pets!
#12. Pine Woods Treefrog
- Dryophytes femoralis
- Adults range from 1 to 1.5 inches long.
- Mottled coloring including browns, grays, reddish-brown, and grayish-green with dark markings on the back.
- Yellow, orange, or white dots can be seen on the back of the thigh when the leg is extended.
You’ll find the Pine Woods Treefrog in Virginia in pine flatwoods, pine-oak forests, and cypress swamps. Spending most of their time high in the trees, these frogs have large sticky toe pads and minimally webbed feet.
Pine Woods Treefrog Range Map
During the breeding season, you can spot them in or near fish-free bodies of water, including shallow ponds, marshes, wetlands, cypress swamps, and ditches. The female lays eggs in shallow water where the tadpoles will live for about two months as they change into frogs.
These frogs give a unique sporadic or staccato chattering mating call which has earned it the nickname “the Morse code frog.”
#13. Squirrel Treefrog
- Dryophytes squirellus
- Adults are around 1.5 inches long.
- Typically green, although individuals may be varying shades of yellow or brown with white or brown blotching.
- The upper lip is often yellowish, and they sometimes feature whitish stripes.
These small frogs are found in southeast Virginia in a variety of urbanized and natural habits.
Squirrel Treefrog Range Map
They can be seen on trees and buildings, in backyards, pine-oak forests, hardwood forests, floodplains, and pine flat woods. You might even find them visiting your porch to catch bugs that are attracted to the lights!
To breed, they visit wetlands like ephemeral pools, roadside ditches, and other small water bodies that lack predatory fish.
During the breeding season, you may hear their raspy, duck-like call.
#14. Little Grass Frog
- Pseudacris ocularis
- Adults are tiny and are around 0.75 inches long or less.
- Coloration is typically a pale brown or gray with a yellow or whitish underside, but individuals may have a green or pink tinge.
- A dark stripe extends from the nostril through the eye and down the side.
The Little Grass Frog is the smallest frog in Virginia!
Little Grass Frog Range Map
These frogs can climb trees and bushes, but they are most frequently seen in marshy areas on grasses and sedges. During the breeding season, they visit shallow, often semi-permanent grass-filled water sources such as wetlands, roadside ditches, and seasonal ponds.
Listen for the males’ mating call, which is a high-pitched chirp or “tinkling” sound that is repeated every couple of seconds.
#15. Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad
- Gastrophryne carolinensis
- Adults only grow up to 53 mm (2.1 in).
- Pointed snout with an oval-shaped body.
- They vary in color from grey and brown to green. A dark brown stripe is usually seen on both sides of the body.
Don’t let the name fool you! Despite being called a “toad” and looking and acting like one, Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toads are frogs, scientifically speaking. They belong to the family Microhylidae.
These “frogs” are hard to find in Virginia because they are fossorial, which means they spend most of their life underground. They are found in a wide range of habitats as long as it provides their two favorite things; moisture and shade!
As far as food is concerned, Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toads rely on ants! Believe it or not, ants make up 95% of their diet.
Since they spend so much time underground, the best way to find one is to use your ears! They have a loud, piercing call that resembles a high-pitched sheep. Listen below.
#16. Upland Chorus Frog
- Pseudacris feriarum
- They are different shades of brown with darker blotching on the body.
- Small frogs that grow between 0.75–1.5 inches (1.9–3.8 cm) in length.
- Look for a white line above the upper lip.
Due to their nocturnal and secretive nature, Upland Chorus Frogs are RARELY seen in Virginia.
The best chance you have to find one is at night, immediately after it rains.
In addition, you won’t find Upland Chorus Frogs in water, as they are terrestrial. They live in a variety of different habitats as long as it’s relatively moist, provides ample vegetation for hiding places, and is near a permanent source of water.
Unlike most other frog species, it is also fairly hard to HEAR one. But if you are lucky and are in the right place at the right time, it would sound like this:
Do you need additional help identifying frogs?
Try this field guide!
Which of these frogs have you seen in Virginia?
Leave a comment below!