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Frogs in Missouri

There are 24 species (and subspecies) of toads and frogs in Missouri. Toads and frogs are the most common amphibians in the world, and they are abundant in the US state of Missouri.

This article is a brief introduction to the species of toads and frogs in Missouri, listing them and some of their characteristics in adulthood. It will be helpful to know some general similarities and differences between these anurans before going further.

Toads and frogs are alike in that they are similarly shaped, cold-blooded (ectothermic), and are alike in certain behaviors. They are both carnivores, eating mostly insects, non-insect arthropods, and small vertebrates like little frogs.

Frogs and toads both undergo a three-stage metamorphosis to get to adulthood.

They are solitary until the breeding season when they converge in large groups to reproduce. Reproduction is external except in tailed frogs (family Ascaphidae).

Common predators are several species of fish, snakes, birds, salamanders, and larger frogs. Small mammals, raccoons, and turtles also eat them. To avoid predators, they have a good sense of sight, the ability to sense vibrations, adaptive coloration, and sometimes harmful secretions.

Differences exist too. Frogs usually have moist and smooth skin while toads’ skins are dry, rough, and warty. Frogs jump and hop long distances because they have long legs, but toads mostly hop because they have short legs.

Below are some identifying characteristics of toads and frogs in Missouri, including their biological families, scientific names, other names, snout-vent length (SVL), lifespan range, habitats, physical descriptions, behaviors, and additional anti-predator mechanisms.

They can also be identified by their most common voice, which is the males’ advertisement or mating call. This call is described below as well. Unless indicated, the species mentioned are neither endangered nor threatened.

Table of Contents

  1. Frogs in Missouri
  2. Toads in Missouri
  3. FAQ
  4. Conclusion

Species of Frogs in Missouri

1. American Bullfrog

American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) on a rock in Dallas County, Missouri, USA
An American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) on a rock in Dallas County, Missouri, USA. – Source
  • Family: Ranidae 
  • Scientific Name: Lithobates catesbeianus 
  • Other Names: Rana catesbeiana, bullfrog, North American bullfrog
  • Adult Size: 9 to 15.2 cm (3.5 to 6 in)
  • Lifespan: 7 to 9 years in the wild, up to 16 years in captivity

The bullfrog is a largely aquatic species found around bodies of water. Individuals can be found in swamps, ponds, marshes, ditches, rivers, and streams with abundant vegetation. They prefer still and shallow water.

They are the largest species of true frogs in North America. Their backs could be colored in different shades from brown to green, with darker colored blotches present. They have fully webbed hind legs and white bellies.

Males and females of this species are easily distinguishable. In males, the external ear is much larger than the eye, while the eye and external ear are relatively the same sizes, or the ear smaller in females.

Also, the male’s throat is yellow while the female’s throat is white during mating season.

These frogs are both diurnal and nocturnal. They however prefer warm and humid weather and are active at any time of day in such weather. Their call has been described as a low rumbling “jug-o-rum”.

They eat snakes, worms, crustaceans, tadpoles, other frogs, aquatic eggs, terrestrial vertebrates, and even frogs of the same species. They endanger some other species of frogs.

Although bullfrogs are hunted by man as a source of frog legs, they face no threat of extinction. Their undesirable taste protects them from predation.

2. Blanchard’s Cricket Frog

Blanchard's Cricket Frog (Acris blanchardi) on a porous rock in Benton County, Missouri, USA
A Blanchard’s Cricket Frog (Acris blanchardi) on a porous rock in Benton County, Missouri, USA. – Source
  • Family: Hylidae 
  • Scientific Name: Acris blanchardi 
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 1.52 to 3.8 cm (0.6 to 1.5 in)
  • Lifespan: 1.4 years in the wild, up to 4.9 years in captivity 

Blanchard’s cricket frogs are typically found in moist habitats. They live mostly along permanent and semi-permanent water bodies like lakes and ponds, and slow-moving streams. They also enjoy living in sandy regions.

These frogs are small in size with large warts on their skin. They are usually tan, brown, reddish-brown, or olive green in color. Sometimes individuals have red, green, or black blotches on their skins and a broad stripe running down their backs.

A dark triangular mark is visible on top of their heads. It is located between and above their eyes. They like moisture and are mostly active during light rain and in humid conditions.

They are nocturnal, but inactive on extremely cold and windy nights. Their breeding calls sound like two pebbles tapped together; it is a series of metallic clicks that sounds like a cricket.

Blanchard’s cricket frogs are one of the most aquatic frogs as they tend to remain around water even after breeding. They specifically feed on insects like mosquitoes, beetles and ants, and spiders.

3. Boreal Chorus Frog

Boreal Chorus Frog (Pseudacris maculata) seemingly looking straight at the camera in mud somewhere in Columbia, Missouri, USA
A Boreal Chorus Frog (Pseudacris maculata) seemingly looking straight at the camera in mud somewhere in Columbia, Missouri, USA. – Source
  • Family: Hylidae 
  • Scientific Name: Pseudacris maculata
  • Other Names: Pseudacris triseriata maculata
  • Adult Size: 3 to 3.8 cm (1.18 to 1.5 in)
  • Lifespan: 2 to 3 years, record longevity of 6 years

The boreal chorus frog is another species of hylid frog in Missouri. This frog likes to live in open spaces and wooded areas with open canopy, as long as there is adequate vegetation for cover and food in the form of insects.

It can also be found in grasslands, streams in marshy areas, roadside ditches, splash pools, beaver ponds, swamps, shallow lakes, flooded fields, and other freshwater habitats without fish.

Individuals of this species are small with smooth, moist skin. Dorsal color could be from a greenish gray to brown. They usually have three darker colored stripes on their backs which may be broken.

On each eye, a dark stripe that extends to the groin is noticed. A dark triangular pattern may also be seen on the head of some boreal chorus frogs, between their eyes. A white stripe runs across its upper lip as is seen in most chorus frogs.

Their underside is usually white, yellowish, or cream, and there may be dark mottling on the chest and throat. They have long toes adapted for climbing with small toe pads and some webbing. Their snouts are pointed.

The call of a boreal chorus frog is a loud chirp-like sound likened to the sound of drawing a finger down a comb’s teeth. It is short and may be repeated 30-70 times per minute.

The frog is diurnal, nocturnal, and crepuscular. It shows more daytime activity in cooler months and more activity at dusk, night, and dawn in hot weather. In the breeding season, it is active both day and night.

4. Cope’s Gray Treefrog

Cope's Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) on a dark paited wood table in Platte City, Missouri, USA
A Cope’s Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) on a dark paited wood table in Platte City, Missouri, USA. – Source
  • Family: Hylidae
  • Scientific Name: Hyla chrysoscelis 
  • Other Names: Southern gray treefrog
  • Adult Size: 3.2 to 6 cm (1.26 to 3.26 in)
  • Lifespan: 2.5 to 7 years in captivity

Frogs of this species reside near both temporary and permanent water bodies. They have warty skin, rougher than the average frog’s skin but not as rough as typical toads’ skins.

They are biologically adapted for living in trees, with adhesive pads on their toes. They have black blotches on their backs and white marks beneath their eyes. There are no conspicuous physical differences between male and female Cope’s gray treefrogs. 

The most common dorsal color of Cope’s gray treefrogs is gray. This color is affected by such environmental factors as substrate, humidity, and season. Individuals are found in other colors, like gray-green, green and brown.

They are nocturnal frogs. They are rarely seen on the ground except during the breeding season. The call of this treefrog is a musical trilling sound, fast and high in pitch.

To avoid predators, they live in trees and are cryptically adapted to their environment. They are able to change color in order to blend in with their environment and not be easily seen by their attackers.

5. Gray Treefrog

Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) stretching between two twigs in Chesterfield, Missouri, USA
A Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) stretching between two twigs in Chesterfield, Missouri, USA. – Source
  • Family: Hylidae 
  • Scientific Name: Hyla versicolor
  • Other Names: Dryophytes versicolor, eastern gray treefrogs
  • Adult Size: 3 to 5 cm (1.18 to 1.9 in)
  • Lifespan: 7 to 9 years

Gray treefrogs are able to live both on trees and on the ground. They are commonly found in small wooded areas and can live in trees up to 20 meters above the ground.

They are similar in appearance and voice to Cope’s gray treefrogs. Their skins are rough and warty, rougher than the average frog but smoother than the average toad. They have large, advanced, and sticky toe pads, an adaptation for climbing.

Most frogs of this species come in gray, but there are other frogs of this species in brown, green, and ivory. Black blotches are also noticed on their skin. Humidity and season may change their dorsal color.

Their venter is white, with black speckles towards the groin. Beneath each eye of a gray treefrog, there is usually a white mark. Males and females of this species show no physical differences.

Gray treefrogs are both nocturnal and crepuscular (active mostly at dawn and dusk). Their call sounds like the call of a Cope’s gray treefrog, only that gray treefrogs’ flute-like trill is much shorter in length than gray treefrogs’.

To avoid predation, they live high in trees and change color to blend in with their surroundings. Their nocturnality and crepuscular activity also make them less noticed by potential attackers.

6. Green Frog

Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans) on a log fresh out of water in Boone County, Missouri, USA
A Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans) on a log fresh out of water in Boone County, Missouri, USA. – Source
  • Family: Ranidae 
  • Scientific Name: Lithobates clamitans 
  • Other Names: Rana clamitans, bronze frog, brown frog, cow frog
  • Adult Size: 5.7 to 12.5 cm (2.3 to 4.92 in)
  • Lifespan: up to 10 years in captivity

Another species of frog in Missouri is the green frog. It can be found in ponds, lakes, marshes, and slow-moving freshwater bodies.

Females of this species are larger on average than males. They can be found in a range of colors such as dark brown, brown, bronze, olive, green and bluish. Some individuals have two dorsal colors.

A green frog typically has two ridges running down its back from each eye. These ridges are very pronounced. The frog has very webbed feet.

Its back has small spots of darker pigment scattered on it, and its belly could be in any shade from white to yellow. Males have tympana much larger than their eyes while females’ tympana and eyes are fairly proportionate in size.

Green frogs are active both day and night — they are nocturnal and diurnal. The call of these frogs resembles the sound a banjo string makes when plucked, a twang.

They evade their predators by mimicry. They resemble foul-tasting mink frogs.

They take advantage of this resemblance that they bear and co-occur with mink frogs so their predators do not tell the difference.

7. Green Treefrog

Green Treefrog (Hyla cinerea) on a dark surface near a forest in Missouri, USA
A Green Treefrog (Hyla cinerea) on a dark surface near a forest in Missouri, USA. – Source
  • Family: Hylidae 
  • Scientific Name: Hyla cinerea 
  • Other Names: American green treefrog 
  • Adult Size: 3.2 to 6.4 cm (1.25 to 2.5 in)
  • Lifespan: up to 6 years

Green treefrogs are a common species of hylid frogs. They prefer to live in areas with plenty of floating vegetation and open canopy.

These frogs possess long legs with big toe pads and smooth skin. Their hind legs are webbed extensively and have two tubercles between the toes.

They are medium-sized frogs, with females larger than males.

Green treefrogs are usually bright yellow-green in color, but other dorsal colors have been noticed. They include shades between reddish-brown and green. They may or may not have golden spots overlaying their dorsal color.

The underbelly of this frog is usually white or cream in color. Each side of its back has a prominent lateral stripe that is also colored white or cream.

Green frogs are most active in moist or humid weather. They communicate with different and distinct calls. There is a mating call, a call to signal when they sense rain, and an alarm call.

They avoid predators by cryptic coloration. By closing their eyes and tucking in their legs, they can blend in with the color of leaves and be noticed by predators.

8. Illinois Chorus Frog

Illinois Chorus Frog (Pseudacris illinoensis) in muddy, murky water with pieces of straw in it in Missouri, USA
An Illinois Chorus Frog (Pseudacris illinoensis) in muddy, murky water with pieces of straw in it in Missouri, USA. – Source
  • Family: Hylidae
  • Scientific Name: Pseudacris illinoensis
  • Other Names: Pseudacris triseriata illinoensis, Pseudacris streckeri illinoensis
  • Adult Size: 4.7 cm (1.85 in)
  • Lifespan: N/A

This species of chorus frog is found in shallow water around grasslands and in temporary pools. They are primarily terrestrial, living in sand prairies, cultivated fields, and open sandy areas. They also live in burrows underground.

They are seldom seen except during the breeding season. They are small and their skin is gray, green, or dark brown. Black lines can be seen on their backs, and their ventral surface is white in color.

Illinois chorus frogs have stout bodies with robust forelimbs, just like toads. Their dorsal skin is rough and granular also, much like toads. Although they belong to the family of tree frogs, they do not climb trees because their toes lack sticky toe pads.

From their snout to their shoulder, a dark stripe like a mask can be seen. Dark spots are present underneath the eyes, with a V- or Y-shaped mark between the latter.

The breeding call of an Illinois chorus frog is a series of clear and high-pitched whistles. It is a nocturnal frog that hibernates in the winter and aestivates in the hotter parts of the year.

This species of frog is only found in Arkansas, Illinois, and Missouri. In Illinois, they are said to be endangered. A petition has been released to pronounce them endangered in the other states as well.

9. Northern Crawfish Frog

Northern Crawfish Frog (Lithobates areolatus circulosus) in grass in Benton County, Arkansas, USA
A Northern Crawfish Frog (Lithobates areolatus circulosus) in grass in Benton County, Arkansas, USA. – Source
  • Family: Ranidae 
  • Scientific Name: Lithobates areolatus circulosus
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 7.6 to 10.1 cm (3 to 4 in)
  • Lifespan: 

The northern crawfish frog is a subspecies of the crawfish frog. Crawfish frogs are so called because they inhabit burrows of crayfish. They can be found in moist meadows, prairies, grassy fields, semi-permanent wetlands, and fishless ponds.

The body of a northern crawfish frog is large and stocky. There is a hump in its lower back that differentiates it from other frogs.

Its upper jaws are mottled. This is a subspecies of conservation concern.

Their dorsum is covered in many irregular dark spots with lighter borders. These circles are clustered, defined, and usually gold or black in color. Their head is very large compared to the rest of their body.

The skin is usually a dark shade of brown. The snout is cone-shaped. There are two dorso-lateral ridges along the back, one on each side of the body. Their ventral side is white and spotless.

Males are distinguished from females. They have paired vocal pouches and enlarged thumbs. The call of crawfish frogs is like a snore, loud, deep, and resonant. In this subspecies, it is a “gwwaaaa” sound. They live underground for most of the year, in crayfish burrows.

10. Northern Leopard Frog

Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens) on concrete in Waldo County, Maine, USA
A Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens) on concrete in Waldo County, Maine, USA. – Source
  • Family: Ranidae 
  • Scientific Name: Lithobates pipiens
  • Other Names: Rana pipiens, meadow frog, grass frog
  • Adult Size: 5 to 11.5 cm (1.97 to 4.5 in)
  • Lifespan: up to 9 years in the wild

Northern leopard frogs like to live around permanent, slow-moving water with aquatic vegetation. They live around marshlands, brushlands, and forests. They prefer living in open spaces to living in woodlands.

They tend to have green, greenish-brown, or yellow-green coloration dorsally. They have smooth skin covered in large oval spots. Each spot is bordered by a halo of lighter pigment.

Ventral color is usually white or cream. There are two distinct ridges on the back of the northern leopard frog, running along each side. Males are smaller than females on average, and they have large thumb pads and dual vocal sacs.

They migrate to ponds during spring to breed and then leave to grasslands or meadows, far from the water, in the summer. They are more active at night when breeding and more active in the day when foraging.

The call of a northern leopard frog is a short snoring sound. This frog eats smaller frogs.

It avoids its predators by leaping quickly and blending with plants. Some take advantage of their likeness to pickerel frogs, living around them to avoid being eaten.

11. Pickerel Frog

Pickerel Frog (Lithobates palustris) on white rocks in St. Louis County, Missouri, USA
A Pickerel Frog (Lithobates palustris) on white rocks in St. Louis County, Missouri, USA. – Source
  • Family: Ranidae 
  • Scientific Name: Lithobates palustris 
  • Other Names: Rana palustris 
  • Adult Size: 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 in)
  • Lifespan: unknown

Individuals like to live in cool streams with trees, swamps, springs, grassy fields, prairies, and weed-covered locations. They love to live near unpolluted water sources.

They have two lines of dorsolateral spots in darker chocolate color, and these spots are shaped like squares. These two lines are in between two folds in their back that extend to their groin area. Their upper jaws also have a light line along them.

The ventral coloration on pickerel frogs is usually white, bright yellow, or yellow-orange. Their bellies may also be mottled. The skin under their groins and hindlegs could be bright yellow to orange.

Males are typically smaller than females. These males characteristically possess short forearms and swollen thumbs. Pickerel frogs are nocturnal. Their call is low and snore-like.

They are medium-sized so they are easily eaten by larger frogs. To protect themselves from predators, they secrete toxic fluids that are poisonous enough to kill small mammals and irritate humans.

12. Plains Leopard Frog

Plains Leopard Frog (Lithobates blairi) in greenery and mud in Saline County, Missouri, USA
A Plains Leopard Frog (Lithobates blairi) in greenery and mud in Saline County, Missouri, USA. – Source
  • Family: Ranidae 
  • Scientific Name: Lithobates blairi
  • Other Names: Rana blairi, Blair’s leopard frog 
  • Adult Size: 5.1 to 11.1 cm (2 to 4.37 in)
  • Lifespan: up to 9 years in the wild (about 5% of the population)

Plains leopard frogs are adapted to live in dry conditions. They like to live around xeric plains and prairies. They are usually found at the edge of ponds and streams.

These frogs are usually stocky and chubby. Their most frequent dorsal coloration is brown, with lateral folds in the middle of their backs that stop just before the groin. There is also a distinct light line along their upper jaw.

A dark spot can be seen on the snout of a plains leopard frog. Another spot of lighter pigment may be seen in the center of its external ear. This tympanum may be the same size as the frog’s eye or slightly larger than it.

Its groin and the area under its thighs are yellow in color. The area around its cloaca is covered in tubercles. This species is considered to be of special concern in some states and is threatened by loss of habitat and the predation of bullfrogs.

The call of a plains leopard frog is a series of 2 or 3 distinct snore-like “clucks”. It has a 3-second pulse rate. The frog is s nocturnal species, usually active on rainy nights.

13. Southern Leopard Frog

Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus) on rocks in Sedalia Township, Missouri, USA
A Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus) on rocks in Sedalia Township, Missouri, USA. – Source
  • Family: Ranidae 
  • Scientific Name: Lithobates sphenocephalus 
  • Other Names: Rana sphenocephala 
  • Adult Size: 2 to 13 cm (0.79 to 5.12 in), average SVL 8 cm (3.15 in)
  • Lifespan: <1 year in the wild, up to 2 or 3 years

Ranid (true) frogs of this species are fundamentally aquatic and very active on land as well. They are commonly found around forests, temporary water pools, and marshes in the breeding season. They disperse to moist vegetation in the summer.

Frogs of this species are slender with sharply pointed heads. From behind each eye to the hip, there is a conspicuous dorsal fold in a brighter pigment. The dorsal coloration on the back and sides is usually green or brown, with distinct dark spots.

Their tympana and eyes are about the same size. Occasionally, a white dot can be noticed in between the eyes of individuals. Like other true frogs, their legs are long. Their toes do not possess toe pads, and so they are not adapted to climbing.

Females are usually bigger than males. This species has two subspecies: Lithobates sphenocephalus sphenocephalus (the Florida leopard frog) and Lithobates sphenocephalus utricularius ( the coastal plains leopard frog). Both subspecies are present in Missouri.

Southern leopard frogs are nocturnal, hiding during the day in vegetation close to water. Their call does not sound like the snoring of their cousins, the northern leopard frogs; it sounds more like chuckling.

Because frogs of this species are highly aquatic, they escape their predators by entering the water and swimming away.

14. Spring Peeper

Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) in dirt in Spurgeon, Missouri, USA
A Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) in dirt in Spurgeon, Missouri, USA. – Source
  • Family: Hylidae 
  • Scientific Name: Pseudacris crucifer 
  • Other Names: Peeper
  • Adult Size: 1.9 to 3.5 cm (0.75 to 1.3 in)
  • Lifespan: 3 to 4 years

Spring peepers are small hylid frogs. They live in moist areas around trees, fields, wetlands, grassy lowlands, and ponds. They could also be found living in mud during hibernation.

Dorsal coloration is usually gray, tan, olive-brown, or brown. The frog’s back is X-shaped with an often irregular brown mark on it. It has a white belly and dark bands on its legs.

It has moderately webbed feet with toe pads and so it is good at climbing. There are no conspicuous differences between the sexes. It mostly lives in trees, as it is adapted for climbing, but it likes to be found on the ground among leaves.

Their chirp-like, whistling, and high-pitched calls signal the beginning of spring, hence their name. Spring peepers are nocturnal and they are hard to see outside the breeding season.

To avoid being attacked, they are cryptically colored. They employ their jump power to escape from predators when threatened. They also aestivate, burying themselves in mud or deep water.

15. Upland Chorus Frog

Upland Chorus Frog (Pseudacris feriarum) on a leaf in New Hope, Alabama, USA
An Upland Chorus Frog (Pseudacris feriarum) on a leaf in New Hope, Alabama, USA. – Source
  • Family: Hylidae 
  • Scientific Name: Pseudacris feriarum 
  • Other Names: Southeastern chorus frog
  • Adult Size: 1.9 to 3.5 cm (0.75 to 1.4 in)
  • Lifespan: unknown

The upland chorus frog is another species of frog in Missouri. Habitats of choice for these frogs include meadows, moist forests, ponds, and marshes. They are also found in wetlands, woodlands, and grassy areas.

Frogs of this species are quite small. The color on their backs is usually brown or gray.

They have markings on their backs and these markings vary greatly across individuals. Their backs appear spotted or streaked.

A light line can be noticed across the upper lip. Another dark stripe runs through the eye and down the back.

Most of them have three longitudinal stripes running down their backs, but these lines may be broken in their presence or even absent.

Males are physically different from females. They have a large vocal sac under their chin which is absent in the females.

The call of an upland chorus frog has been likened to the sound produced by running a finger down the bristles of a comb. It is smooth and fast. The frog is nocturnal.

16. Wood Frog

Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) in greenery in Phelps County, Missouri, USA
A Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) in greenery in Phelps County, Missouri, USA. – Source
  • Family: Ranidae
  • Scientific Name: Lithobates sylvaticus
  • Other Names: Rana sylvatica, the frog with the robber’s mask
  • Adult Size: 3.8 to 8.2 cm (1.5 to 3.25 in)
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years

An individual of this species usually leaves its primary habitat to breed in semi-permanent water bodies. It spends most of its time in the ground or around trees, but it can also be found in marshes, swamps, meadows, coniferous forests, deciduous forests, and mixed forests.

A wood frog typically has mask-like markings across its eyes. Also present is a black patch from each eardrum to the base of each foreleg. A white outline can be noticed across its upper lip.

These frogs come in diverse shades of gray, green, brown, tan, and rusty color. They usually have a bright yellow-brown mid-dorsal fold. Ventrally, the frogs are white.

Male wood frogs are smaller in size than females. The ventral part of their legs is also colorful. On the other hand, female wood frogs are bigger than males.

Their white bellies fade to a yellow-orange pallor towards the legs. The females are however more brightly colored dorsally than the males.

Wood frogs are more diurnal, actively foraging during the day. Their calls sound like the quacking of a duck or the squawking of a chicken. They are sometimes eaten by larger frogs.

They blend with the forest floor to evade predators, a cryptic adaptation by coloration. They also produce poisons to irritate predators. When captured, a wood frog lets out a piercing cry to startle and probably annoy the predator enough to let the frog go.

Species of Toads in Missouri

17. Eastern American Toad

Eastern American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus americanus) sitting on a rocky surface in Columbia, Missouri, USA
An Eastern American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus americanus) sitting on a rocky surface in Columbia, Missouri, USA. – Source
  • Family: Bufonidae 
  • Scientific Name: Anaxyrus americanus americanus 
  • Other Names: Bufo americanus
  • Adult Size: 5 to 10 cm (1.97 to 4 in), average 7.5 cm (2.95 in)
  • Lifespan: 1 to 10 years in the wild, up to 36 years in captivity

The Eastern American toad is a subspecies of the American toad, Anaxyrus americanus. American toads are found almost anywhere — rainforests, streams, ponds, and even backyards.

As long as there is a body of semi-permanent water for them to breed in and thickset vegetation to act as cover during hunting, this species of frogs lives in the area comfortably.

They are characteristically stout, with thick skins and short legs. They have noticeable warts on their bodies, usually yellow or red.

They are found in many different colors like olive green, gray, reddish-brown, and tan, and these colors could be solid or include patterns.

Female and male toads of this species are easily distinguishable. While the male toads have longer throats and overall darker skin, the females possess shorter throats and are generally lighter skinned. Also, female toads are larger in size than males.

To differentiate American toads from other species, however, it is helpful to note that their wart patterns are different. Their backs are littered with several dark spots and each spot has only one or two warts.

They typically hide under rocks, stones, twigs, and other such things in the daytime. This is because they are nocturnal, preferring warm and humid weather. Their call is a long, high-pitched, and neat-sounding trill, a musical bu-r-r-r-r- that can last up to 30 seconds.

To protect the toad from predators, a poisonous milky fluid is produced by their paratoid glands. This secretion causes harm if ingested or if it gets into the eyes.

18. Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad

Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis) on grainy wet sand in Missouri, USA
An Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis) on grainy wet sand in Missouri, USA. – Source
  • Family: Microhylidae
  • Scientific Name: Gastrophryne carolinensis 
  • Other Names: Eastern narrowmouth toad
  • Adult Size: 2.5 to 4 cm (1 to 1.5 in)
  • Lifespan: up to 6 years in captivity

This is a species of small toads that live anywhere provided there is shelter and moisture.

They burrow into the soil and can also be found hiding under logs, boards, vegetable debris, and sawdust piles. Sandy suburban lawns could also house these toads if they are often watered.

Toads of this species have a distinct fold of skin running across their heads and behind their eyes. This fold can move to protect the toad’s eyes from insects. They have very smooth skin and no tympana, unlike most true toads.

The eastern narrow-mouth toad can be found in various colors, including light tan, brown, red, reddish-brown, gray, and nearly black. Its middorsal area usually has brightly colored strips and is covered in patches and spots.

Its stomach is heavily mottled. It has a narrow, sharp, and pointed head for easy burrowing. It has a small mouth, hence the name. You can tell males and females apart by pigmentation: males are typically darker in color than females.

These toads are fundamentally nocturnal. Their call has been described as abrasive. It sounds like a lamb bleating, or like an electric buzzer “beeeeeeeeee”.

As an anti-predator technique, they produce mucous secretions that irritate predators. They also burrow into the soil to be less noticed, and their nocturnal activity gives them the cover of night.

19. Eastern Spadefoot

Eastern Spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrookii) on rocky concrete in McBee, South Carolina, USA
An Eastern Spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrookii) on rocky concrete in McBee, South Carolina, USA. – Source
  • Family: Scaphiopodidae
  • Scientific Name: Scaphiopus holbrookii
  • Other Names: Eastern spadefoot toad
  • Adult Size: 4.5 to 7.8 cm (1.7 to 3.1 in)
  • Lifespan: 5 to 9 years in the wild, 7 to 10 years in captivity

This toad species likes sandy soil, moderate temperature, and rainy regions.

Individuals can be found in grasslands, ravines, pastures, farmlands, swamps, and temporary pools. They like to burrow into the ground, then cover themselves with protection and insulation.

Eastern spadefoots are dark in color, in different shades ranging from olive to black. Ventral coloration could be gray, cream, yellowish-white, or white. They have two conspicuous lines running along their backs and tapering together at the posterior end.

The skin of this toad is warty with small paratoid glands. They have black spade-like protrusions on their hindlegs to aid burrowing. The color and darkness of skin are affected by environmental factors.

They are active both in the day and at night, but they are more diurnal. They are very active in humid weather. Their call is a low-pitched “waaaaa” repeated at short intervals.

To avoid predators, this toad quickly buries itself in the soil. Its skin is colored like the soil, blending with it, and thus hiding the toad from attackers. The skin and paratoid glands also produce a secretion that is foul-tasting and foul-smelling to predators.

20. Fowler’s Toad

Fowler's Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) on concrete road in Jackson, Missouri, USA
A Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) on concrete road in Jackson, Missouri, USA. – Source
  • Family: Bufonidae 
  • Scientific Name: Anaxyrus fowleri
  • Other Names: Bufo fowleri
  • Adult Size: 5.1 to 9.5 cm (2 to 3.75 in)
  • Lifespan: 5 years

Fowler’s toads live in savannas with widely spaced trees and they prefer habitats with open canopy and space. They can be found in grasslands and prairies. They also like to live on beaches.

These toads are medium-sized. Their dorsal color is usually tan, gray, brown, or greenish gray. They have dark or black spots on their backs, with each black spot having three to six warts.

A white or light-colored stripe runs through the middle of their backs. Their bellies are colored in a light shade, mostly white, cream or yellowish-white, and they have a single gray spot. Males are generally darker in color and the females lighter.

Fowler’s toads are primarily nocturnal but they are also active in the daytime except in extreme heat or cold. Their call is nasal, sounding like a baby crying or a sheep bleating, and it lasts for 2-5 seconds.

This species is considered to be at risk. This is due to the activities of off-road vehicles (habitat destruction and loss), the use of chemicals in agriculture, and predation.

Because of their natural earth tones, they blend into their environments. If roughly handled by predators, they pretend to be dead by lying still. When attacked, they secrete poison from warts on their skin to irritate and poison such predators.

21. Great Plains Toad

Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus) on wet rocks in Platte County, Missouri, USA
A Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus) on wet rocks in Platte County, Missouri, USA. – Source
  • Family: Bufonidae 
  • Scientific Name: Anaxyrus cognatus
  • Other Names: Bufo cognatus 
  • Adult Size: 4.8 to 11.4 cm (1.9 to 4.5 in)
  • Lifespan: up to 10.7 years in captivity

Great Plains toads are a true toad species that can be found in damp sections of grasslands and arid areas. They live in temperate areas, deserts, savannas, temporary rain pools, reservoirs, and river floodplains.

These toads are average-sized, not too big or too small. They have small heads and well-developed cranial crests. Their snouts are blunt and rounded.

The dorsal coloration on great plains toads is usually yellowish, greenish, brown, or gray. They may have a light and narrow stripe running down their backs. Ventral coloration is cream to white without spots.

There are large dark blotches on their backs bordered in a halo-like manner, in lighter pigment. Each blotch has many warts on it. The skin is very rough because of warts on it.

They are primarily nocturnal but sometimes show activity in the daytime. Their call is a high-pitched trill like that of American toads, but it is more mechanical and compelling. Like other toads, they produce poisons from their skin to deter and harm predators.

22. Plains Spadefoot

Plains Spadefoot (Spea bombifrons) on dark concrete in Cochise County, Arizona, USA
A Plains Spadefoot (Spea bombifrons) on dark concrete in Cochise County, Arizona, USA. – Source
  • Family: Scaphiopodidae 
  • Scientific Name: Spea bombifrons
  • Other Names: Plains spadefoot toad, American spadefoot, European spadefoot 
  • Adult Size: 3.8 to 6.35 cm (1.5 to 2.5 in), record SVL 6.5 cm (2.56 in)
  • Lifespan: up to 13 years

Plains spadefoots prefer to live in grasslands with loose soil. This is because they like to burrow into the ground, like other spadefoot toads, and need conducive areas for this.

On the head of an individual of this species, a pronounced round protuberance, also called a boss, can be noticed between the eyes. Its skin could be brown or gray with a greenish tinge.

Four vague longitudinal stripes may be noticed on its back. Its warts could be yellow or orange in color. However, the skin is moist and smoother than most toads’ skins, more like a frog’s skin.

Like on other spadefoot species, there is a single tubercle on the hindleg of a plains spadefoot. The tubercle is wedge-shaped and spade-like, an adaptation for burrowing. Their toes are webbed.

They are nocturnal and are most active during the rains. This species is largely terrestrial. It is considered vulnerable, as it is quite common but individuals are rarely seen across its geographical range.

The call of a plains spadefoot is short and sounds like a duck. It has two distinct calls; one is low-pitched and raspy like a snore, lasting for approximately one second. The other call is short, resonant, and bleat-like, lasting for approximately half a second.

23. Rocky Mountain Toad

Rocky Mountain Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii woodhousii) on a black rocky surface in Clay Point, South Dakota, USA
A Rocky Mountain Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii woodhousii) on a black rocky surface in Clay Point, South Dakota, USA. – Source
  • Family: Bufonidae
  • Scientific Name: Anaxyrus woodhousii woodhousii
  • Other Names: Bufo woodhousii woodhousii
  • Adult Size: 4.4 to 12.7 cm (1.75 to 5 in)
  • Lifespan: 

This is a subspecies of Woodhouse’s toads. Rocky mountain toads prefer to live in sandy habitats but they also occur in others such as temporary pools, moist meadows, ponds, lakes, reservoirs, woods, desert streams, farms, river floodplains, and golf courses.

They have dry and rough skin, full of warts. They have prominent cranial crests on their heads. A boss is sometimes noticed between these crests, and it touches their paratoid glands.

On its back are dark blotches. The skin is typically colored olive, yellow, greenish, brownish, or gray. A mid-dorsal stripe is present from the snout down to the back, and it is whitish in color.

Black and yellow marks are present behind the thighs of individuals of this species. Their underside may have or lack mottling, but it is usually whitish pale cream, or beige in color.

Males and females are slightly different, as males have dark-colored throats and females do not. These toads crawl or walk slowly, using occasional short hops. They are presumed to go into hibernation in the winter.

They are nocturnal toads but they sometimes show some daytime activity. They are mostly underground during the day or resting beside breeding pools in the breeding season.

Rocky mountain toads rely on the poisonous secretions from their skin and paratoid glands for defense. Their call is a loud sound like the muted bleating of a cow or sheep.

It also sounds like a snore and typically lasts 1-4 seconds.

24. Western Narrow-mouthed Toad

Western Narrow-mouthed Toad (Gastrophryne olivacea) sitting on fuzzy leaf in Ectonville, Missouri, USA
A Western Narrow-mouthed Toad (Gastrophryne olivacea) sitting on fuzzy leaf in Ectonville, Missouri, USA. – Source
  • Family: Microhylidae 
  • Scientific Name: Gastrophryne olivacea
  • Other Names: Great Plains narrowmouth, western narrow-mouthed toad
  • Adult Size: 2.22 to 3.8 cm (0.875 to 1.5 in)
  • Lifespan: N/A

This toad species inhabits rocky hills, grasslands, and areas along the edge of marshes. They hide in loose soil, under rocks or other objects, and in animal burrows.

Western narrow mouths have plump bodies, small pointed heads, and a fold of skin behind their eyes. Dorsal color is usually tan, olive green, or gray, with few markings. The ventral color is white.

To make burrowing easier, they have pointed snouts and narrow heads. Their mouths are very small and their skin is smooth. Their unwebbed toes are tapered and rounded at the tip.

Their call is a short and high-pitched sound likened to the buzzing of a bee. It sounds like a “peeeel” and lasts 1-4 seconds. It has also been described as a nasal buzz.

They are nocturnal and hard to observe because they are very small. They produce secretions from their paratoid glands and warts on their skin to protect them from predation.

FAQs

What kind of frogs are in Missouri?

There are 16 kinds of frogs in Missouri: American bullfrogs, Blanchard’s cricket frogs, boreal chorus frogs, Cope’s gray treefrogs, gray treefrogs, green frogs, green treefrogs, Illinois chorus frogs, northern crawfish frogs, northern leopard frogs, pickerel frogs, plains leopard frogs, southern leopard frogs, spring peepers, upland chorus frogs, and wood frogs.

Where do tree frogs go in winter in Missouri?

In Missouri (and elsewhere), tree frogs go into hibernation in the winter. This behavior is not found in tree frogs alone, as frogs of other families, toads, and even other animals of different genera and classes go into a dormant state in the winter.

How many frogs and toad species are in Missouri?

There are 24 frog and toad species currently known in Missouri. 16 of these are frogs, while 8 are toads.

Where are green tree frogs found in Missouri?

Green frogs live in ponds, lakes, marshes, and slow-moving freshwater bodies in Missouri.

Conclusion

Missouri is located in the midwestern area of the United States. Common frog and toad species in this area are the crawfish frog, plains leopard frog, green frog, northern leopard frog, and American toad.

These animals play an important role in our environment, helping to control the population of insects that are crop and household pests. They also add to the charm of nature with their evening calls.

Frogs are more ideal than toads as pets, as most toads have poisonous skin secretions that cause irritation and harm, even to humans. It is important to note this when buying or catching any of these anuran species.

Frogs are small, cheap (or free), and easy to take care of, so they make good first pets for children. Just don’t go looking to catch any without a license, as some of them are threatened or endangered.

Destruction of habitat is one of the causes of decline in amphibian populations. This problem can be added to when an inexperienced person goes frog fishing and is not cautious about the environment of the animals.

It is safer to simply buy toads and frogs in Missouri from experienced and trusted sources. This will ensure that the dwellings of the anurans are safe, and you have a pet of your choice as well!

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