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Frogs in Nebraska

Although there are only eleven (11) species native to the state, there are twenty-four (24) species of toads and frogs in Nebraska. This number is out of the over 5,000 species currently known all over the world.

These animals look and behave alike. They are both four-legged, with their two hindlegs possessing five digits and their two forelegs possessing four. Their parotid glands are enlarged and they have two external eardrums (tympana).

To make them less visible to their predators, their skin is colored to blend with their habitats (land, tree, and water). Dorsally, they are colored to match the ground or vegetation. Ventrally, they are white or some bright color, seeming like the light entering the water to aquatic predators.

Frogs and toads also have widely spaced eyes for wide vision. Their eardrums only sense the calls of conspecifics (frogs of their own species) and vibrations (movement of predators and prey).

Furthermore, toads secrete toxic fluids from their skin and parotid glands when they feel threatened or face an attack. Some frogs are poisonous as well but most of them supply some other techniques to evade predators or seem less attractive to eat.

Some species protect themselves by showing more activity under the cover of the night (nocturnality). Others show more activity in the daytime (are diurnal) or at dusk and dawn (are crepuscular). Some combine two or all.

Both animals are insectivorous in adulthood and herbivorous at the larval stage. Adults are usually eaten by fish, salamanders, snakes, birds, raccoons, otters, turtles, larger frogs and toads, and sometimes humans.

There are subtle differences between frogs and toads. Frogs have more smooth and moist skin and slender bodies. Their legs are longer for jumping and leaping as forms of movement.

On the other hand, toads usually have rougher and drier dorsal skin, full of warts. Their bodies are generally chubbier and stockier than frogs’ bodies. To move, they walk or hop, going slower on average than frogs.

With a focus on adults, this articles lists and describes the species of toads and frogs in Nebraska. This information includes their geographic range, habitats of choice, physical characteristics, behaviors, calls, and additional anti-predator mechanisms.

Except otherwise stated, the species listed below are not endangered or threatened in the state of Nebraska. It is also indicated if the species are native to Nebraska.

Table of Contents

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

Species of Frogs in Nebraska

1. American Bullfrog

American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) in grass with flowers in Valley County, Nebraska, USA
American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) in grass with flowers in Valley County, Nebraska, 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

Native to eastern North America and to Nebraska, the American bullfrog is a very common and widely distributed species. It is a native species in Nebraska and has even been introduced to South America, Europe, and Asia.

Individuals of this species are highly aquatic species and they are usually found around still and shallow bodies of water. These frogs like to live in or around swamps, ponds, marshes, ditches, rivers, and streams with enough vegetation.

The bullfrog is the largest species of true frogs (frogs of the family Ranidae) existing in North America. Its dorsal color could be any different shade of color, ranging from brown to green, with blotches of darker color on its back. The hindlegs of this frog are fully webbed and its belly is white.

Male and female frogs of this species are distinguishable. Males have external ears that are much larger than their eyes, while the eyes and external ears are relatively the same size in females. Also, the males’ throats are yellow in the reproduction period while the females’ throats are white.

These frogs are both diurnal and nocturnal, showing activity both during the day and at night. They are however most active when the weather is warm and humid. If it is warm and rainy, no matter the time of the day, bullfrogs are likely to be seen active.

Their call has been described as a low rumbling “jug-o-rum”. They eat smaller frogs, even of the same species. Humans hunt them for meat but they are still abundant.

To make them less attractive to predators, they have a foul taste.

2. Blanchard’s Cricket Frog

Blanchard's Cricket Frog (Acris blanchardi) in sand near a leaf in Lancaster County, Nebraska, USA
Blanchard’s Cricket Frog (Acris blanchardi) in sand near a leaf in Lancaster County, Nebraska, USA. – Source
  • Family: Hylidae
  • Scientific Name: Acris blanchardi
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 1.5 to 3.8 cm (0.6 to 1.5 in)
  • Lifespan: 1.4 years in the wild, up to 5 years in captivity

Blanchard’s cricket frogs can be found in the central, midwestern, and southeastern parts of the United States.

They occur in other states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas, and Virginia, and they are native to Nebraska. They are also found in parts of Canada and Mexico.

They like to live in moist habitats and enjoy sandy regions. Mostly, they can be found living along permanent and semi-permanent water bodies like lakes, ponds, and slow-moving streams.

These hylid frogs are small in size and have large warts on their dorsal skin. They are usually tan, brown, reddish-brown, or olive green in color. They may have red, green, or black blotches on their skins.

A broad stripe is visible on them, running down their backs. They usually have a dark triangular mark on top of their heads. This mark is conspicuous and is located between their eyes.

Blanchard’s cricket frogs are highly aquatic, tending to remain around water even after breeding. They are nocturnal and show most activity in high humidity.

Their call is a series of metallic clicks, it sounds like two pebbles tapped together.

3. Boreal Chorus Frog

Boreal Chorus Frog (Pseudacris maculata) on a ledge near water in Stanton, Nebraska, USA
Boreal Chorus Frog (Pseudacris maculata) on a ledge near water in Stanton, Nebraska, 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 cm)
  • Lifespan: 2 to 3 years, record lifespan of 6 years

The boreal chorus frog is found in North America, largely distributed in Canadian regions and states of the USA. Some regions of Canada where you can find this frog include Yukon, Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Quebec.

This frog likes living in open spaces and in forests with an open canopy. As long as there is enough vegetation to use as cover and food in the form of insects present, frogs of this species live comfortably in the area.

Boreal chorus frogs can be found in grasslands, streams in marshy areas, roadside ditches, splash pools, beaver ponds, swamps, shallow lakes, flooded fields, and around other freshwater sources without fish.

The frogs are small in size and with smooth, moist skin. Dorsally, they are colored from greenish gray to brown. They usually have three stripes on their backs in a darker pigment than their dorsal color, and these stripes may be broken.

From each eye to the groin, there is a visible dark stripe on these frogs. A dark triangular pattern may also be seen on the head of some boreal chorus frogs, between their eyes. Like on other chorus frogs, a white stripe is seen across their upper lip.

Their bellies are usually white, yellowish, or cream, and there may be dark mottling on their chests and throats. They have long toes with small toe pads for climbing. They have webbed feet and pointed snouts.

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. This species of frog is native to Nebraska.

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

4. Cope’s Gray Tree Frog

Cope's Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) on concrete at Mahoney Activity Center, Nebraska, USA
Cope’s Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) on concrete at Mahoney Activity Center, Nebraska, USA. – Source
  • Family: Hylidae
  • Scientific Name: Hyla chrysoscelis
  • Other Names: Southern gray tree frog
  • Adult Size: 3.2 to 6 cm (1.26 to 3.26 in)
  • Lifespan: 2.5 to 7 years in captivity

Cope’s gray tree frogs are native to North America, inhabiting Ontario, Canada, and USA states like Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Vermont. They are a native species in the state of Nebraska.

Individuals can be found around both temporary and permanent water bodies. They can be found around such habitats as swamps, ponds, lakes, and mixed or deciduous forests.

There are no conspicuous differences between male and female conspecifics. Cope’s gray tree frogs have a white mark underneath each eye. Their dorsal skin is quite rough and warty, although smoother than the skin of most toads.

They are biologically adapted for climbing with adhesive toe pads. Their skin usually comes in different colors, and coloring is affected by such environmental factors as substrate, humidity, and season.

Cope’s gray tree frogs are most commonly colored gray with black blotches on their backs. There are also individuals of this species that are green and brown in color.

They are nocturnal frogs. Because they are small in size, some larger frogs have been known to eat these frogs. Their call is a fast high-pitched trill that sounds like a flute.

5. Gray Tree Frog

Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) sitting on a chopped tree trunk in Ontario, Canada
Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) sitting on a chopped tree trunk in Ontario, Canada. – Source
  • Family: Hylidae
  • Scientific Name: Hyla versicolor
  • Other Names: Dryophytes versicolor, eastern gray tree frog
  • Adult Size: 3 to 5 cm (1.18 to 1.9 in)
  • Lifespan: 7 to 9 years in the wild

Gray tree frogs are endemic to the eastern part of the USA and southeastern region of Canada.

They are both terrestrial and arboreal (they live both on trees and on the ground). They are commonly found in small areas full of trees, in trees up to 20 meters above the ground.

They are similar in appearance to Cope’s gray treefrogs. Even their calls sound alike. Male and female frogs of this species show no sexual dimorphism.

Their skins are rough and warty, rougher than most frogs’ skins but smoother than most toads’ skins. Their toe pads are large, advanced, and adhesive, helping these frogs climb.

Gray tree frogs are usually colored gray dorsally, but there are frogs of this species in such colors as brown, green, and ivory. They also have black blotches on their skin. Environmental factors like humidity and season may change their dorsal color.

Ventrally, they are colored white. Black speckles can be found on this white ventral surface towards the groin. Beneath each eye of a gray treefrog, there is usually a white mark.

Frogs of this species are both nocturnal and crepuscular. Their call sounds like the call of a Cope’s gray tree frog, only that the flute-like trolling call of gray tree frogs is much shorter in duration than that of Cope’s gray tree frogs.

To avoid being preyed upon, 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 predators.

6. Green Frog

Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans) sitting on a large stick in New Jersey, USA
Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans) sitting on a large stick in New Jersey, USA. – Source
  • Family: Ranidae
  • Scientific Name: Lithobates clamitans
  • Other Names: Rana clamitans, bronze frog, Northern green frog
  • Adult Size: 7.5 to 12.5 cm (2.95 to 4.92 in)
  • Lifespan: up to 10 years in captivity

This species of frog is native to the eastern part of North America. They are found only in the Nearctic region, in the US and Canada. Maine, Ontario, Oklahoma, Texas, and Florida are places other than Nebraska where they live in.

Green frogs can be found in marshes, bogs, and sloughs, and along slow-moving streams and rivers. They are usually found around water but individuals move into meadows and wooded areas during the rains.

Green frogs are mostly colored green, yellow-green, brown, brownish-green, or olive dorsally. Some are colored blue, but those are rare. The bellies of these frogs are usually any shade from yellow to white.

Irregular dark spots are seen on their backs. These frogs also have transverse bands on their legs. Their toes are extensively webbed. Males and females can be distinguished by their tympanum size and the color of their throats.

While the tympanum on the males of this species is much larger than the eye, it is the same size as the eye in females. Males have bright yellow throats, while females have white throats.

Green frogs are both nocturnal and diurnal. Their call is a twang, sounding like a banjo string when plucked. They eat other small frogs and are sometimes hunted by humans as a source of frog legs.

They employ mimicry as an anti-predator technique. They physically resemble foul-smelling mink frogs and so they occur with these mink frogs. This makes their attackers less interested in eating them.

7. Mink Frog

Mink Frog (Lithobates septentrionalis) on a lilypad in Flinton, Ontario, Canada
Mink Frog (Lithobates septentrionalis) on a lilypad in Flinton, Ontario, Canada. – Source
  • Family: Ranidae
  • Scientific Name: Lithobates septentrionalis
  • Other Names: Rana septentrionalis, north frog
  • Adult Size: 4.5 to 7.6 cm (1.8 to 3 in)
  • Lifespan: up to 6 years in the wild

Mink frogs are small frogs found in provinces of Canada and states in the United States. They inhabit parts of Wisconsin, Quebec, New York, Minnesota, Michigan, Manitoba, and Vermont.

They are aquatic and so they mostly reside in permanent wetlands. They also live on land in forested and damp areas. They are often found around ponds, lakes, or streams with water lilies, as they use water lilies as a sort of protection.

Mink frogs are usually brown, olive, or green in color. They possess smooth skin with dark and irregular blotches. Some individuals have poorly developed ridges on their backs, but some others lack these ridges.

They have whitish or yellowish bellies. All five digits of their hindlegs are webbed together. They also have round spots or stripes on the upper part of their back legs.

Differences between the sexes are noticeable in tympanum size and throat coloration. Males have large external ears and bright yellow throats. Females have smaller tympana and white or pale yellow throats.

Mink frogs are nocturnal. They produce a foul odor that smells like minks or rancid onions, hence their name. This odor makes predators less interested in eating them.

Their call sounds like that of the green frog. However, it does not have the bouncy quality of the green frog’s twang.

It is a series of three or more rapid croaks, sounding more like a hammer tapping on wood.

8. Mountain Chorus Frog

Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona) on concrete in Kentucky, USA
Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona) on concrete in Kentucky, USA. – Source
  • Family: Hylidae
  • Scientific Name: Pseudacris brachyphona
  • Other Names: Appalachian mountain chorus frog
  • Adult Size: 2.5 to 3.8 cm (1 to 1.5 cm); average 2.8 cm (1.1 in)
  • Lifespan: 5 to 7 years in the wild (for only about 15% of eggs laid)

There are two separate populations of this species of frogs: one in the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, and one in central and northern Alabama.

Mountain chorus frogs are usually found in places with lots of trees. They prefer to breed in shallow pools and ditches. They have been found living in high elevations, as high as 1.05 km (3444.88 ft).

Dorsally, they are colored from gray to olive. Most are light brown with spots of varying shades of brown down their backs.

Their color can also change with age. Males’ throats can be any color between yellow and black, while females have white throats.

A dorsal stripe runs across their eyes and backs. They also have a marking on their backs that resembles reverse parentheses { )( }. These reverse parentheses occasionally touch and form an X shape on their backs.

Between the eyes of a frog of this species, a dark triangle can be noticed. Like most chorus frogs, it has a white line on its upper lip. Flashes of yellow can be seen under its legs.

The call of mountain chorus frogs is described as a series of rapid, high-pitched, and slightly shrill chirps. Their dorsal color blends into the leafy surroundings, making them less conspicuous to predators.

9. Northern Cricket Frog

Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans) on wet leaves in Maryland, USA
Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans) on wet leaves in Maryland, USA. – Source
  • Family: Hylidae
  • Scientific Name: Acris crepitans
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 1.3 to 3.6 cm (0.5 to 1.5 in)
  • Lifespan: 4 months in the wild, up to 5 years in captivity

Northern cricket frogs are found in the eastern and central regions of the United States. The species is also found in parts of Canada and Mexico.

These frogs do not climb trees even though they are members of the family of tree frogs, Hylidae. They are usually found along the edges of streams, lakes, rivers, and ponds with budding subaquatic vegetation.

They are small with warts on their skin. They have small waists, webbed toes, and a triangle mark between their eyes. Their hind limbs are fairly long but they lack the sticky toe pads that help frogs climb.

Dorsally, northern cricket frogs are usually colored gray, light brown, or green. Many of them have a lateral mid-dorsal stripe in any shade between orange and brown.

They have dark bands or stripes on their thighs. From each eye to each forelimb, there is a line on them.

They are diurnal, more active in the daytime than at night. The call of northern cricket frogs sounds much like two stones clicking together rapidly. They prefer to live around open shallow water.

Most hylid frogs are able to live in trees to avoid predation. This frog compensates for a lack of that ability with a powerful jump of over three feet.

It jumps in a zigzag manner to escape from attackers when threatened.

10. Northern Leopard Frog

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

This true frog species is common in Minnesota and Vermont, and it is their state amphibian. It is native to regions of Canada and the United States and is a native species in the state of Nebraska.

Northern leopard frogs like to live around permanent, slow-moving water with aquatic vegetation. They prefer to live in areas with open spaces than in forests. They are found far from water, in grasslands or meadows, outside the breeding season.

Dorsally, they have green, greenish-brown, or yellow-green coloration. Their smooth skin is covered in large oval spots resembling the skin of a leopard, hence the name “leopard frog”. Each spot is bordered by a halo of lighter pigment.

Ventrally, they are usually white or cream in color. Two distinct ridges run on the back of the northern leopard frog, along each side. Males are typically smaller in size than females, and they have large thumb pads and dual vocal sacs.

These frogs are more active at night when breeding and in the day when foraging. The call of a northern leopard frog is short and sounds like snoring.

They avoid their predators by leaping away from them quickly and blending into a vegetated environment. Some take advantage of their likeness to pickerel frogs, living around them to avoid being eaten.

11. Pickerel Frog

Pickerel Frog (Lithobates palustris) on rocks in Nova Scotia, Canada
Pickerel Frog (Lithobates palustris) on rocks in Nova Scotia, Canada. – Source
  • Family: Ranidae
  • Scientific Name: Lithobates palustris
  • Other Names: Rana palustris
  • Adult Size: 4.5 to 7.5 cm (1.8 ot 3 in), record snout-vent length (SVL) of 11.4 cm (4.5 in)
  • Lifespan: N/A

The pickerel frog species is native to North America. It can be found in some provinces of Canada, and in US states like Minnesota, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Ohio.

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 are also found in floodplain swamps but move to grassy fields or weed-covered areas during the summer.

They have two lines of darker chocolate-colored and square-shaped spots on their backs. These two lines are in between two folds in their back that extend to their groin area. Along their upper jaw, there is also a light line.

Underneath them, pickerel frogs are usually white, bright yellow, or yellow-orange. There may be some mottling on their bellies. The skin under their groins and hindlegs could be any shade from bright yellow to orange.

Males are typically smaller than females, and they have short forearms and swollen thumbs. Pickerel frogs are most active at night. Their call is low and snore-like.

They are average-sized frogs 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 cause discomfort and irritation in humans.

12. Plains Leopard Frog

Plains Leopard Frog (Lithobates blairi) in grass in Memphis, Nebraska, USA
Plains Leopard Frog (Lithobates blairi) in grass in Memphis, Nebraska, 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 (only about 9% of the population)

Plains leopard frogs are found in other US states like Oklahoma, Indiana, Colorado, Illinois, Arizona, and New Mexico. They live in xeric (dry) plains and prairies. They are usually found at the edge of ponds and streams.

These frogs are usually stocky and chubby. Their back is usually brown in color, with lateral folds in the middle 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. A light-colored spot may be seen in the center of its external ear. This tympanum may be as large as or slightly larger than its eye.

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

The call of this frog is a series of 2 or 3 distinct snore-like “clucks”, with a 3-second pulse rate. It is usually active on rainy nights. This species is native to Nebraska.

13. Spring Peeper

Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) on a white wall in Ontario, Canada
Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) on a white wall in Ontario, Canada. – 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 in the wild

The spring peeper is found in eastern states of the US and in parts of Canada like Manitoba.

It is an arboreal species that lives on trees in moist woodlands, fields, grassy lowlands, and ponds. It could also be found in mud during hibernation.

Dorsal coloration is usually gray, tan, olive-brown, or brown on the small frog. 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 adapting it for climbing. There are no conspicuous differences between the sexes. It mostly lives in trees, but it likes to be found on the ground among leaves.

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

To avoid being easily seen and 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.

14. Upland Chorus Frog

Upland Chorus Frog (Pseudacris feriarum) on a leaf in Bristol, Florida, USA
Upland Chorus Frog (Pseudacris feriarum) on a leaf in Bristol, Florida, 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: 1 to 3 years

The upland chorus frog is endemic to the southeastern and eastern parts of the United States. In the coastal plain of South Carolina, there are a few isolated frogs of this species.

These frogs prefer to live in or around meadows, moist forests, ponds, and marshes. They are also found in wetlands, woodlands, grassy areas, and bogs.

Upland chorus frogs are small in size. Their backs are usually brown or gray in color. They have markings on their backs (these markings are very different in each individual), with the dorsum looking spotted or streaked.

A light line can be noticed across their upper lip. There is also a dark stripe running through the eye and down the back of these frogs. Three longitudinal stripes may be noticed running down their backs, but these lines are broken when present or they are entirely absent.

There is sexual dimorphism between the sexes of this species. Males have a large vocal sac under their chin which is absent in females. These frogs are generally more nocturnal than diurnal.

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 a smooth and fast sound.

15. Western Chorus Frog

Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata) on a stick of a tree in Durango, Mexico, USA
Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata) on a stick of a tree in Durango, Mexico, USA. – Source
  • Family: Hylidae
  • Scientific Name: Pseudacris triseriata
  • Other Names: Midland chorus frog, striped chorus frog
  • Adult Size: 1.9 to 3.2 cm (0.75 to 1.26 in)
  • Lifespan: 1 to 5 years in the wild

Western chorus frogs are another species of hylid frogs that rarely climb.

They can be found in the United States and Canada. They like to live in open and damp areas like wet woodlands, marshes, meadows, flood plains, and swamps.

They can be found in different colors such as gray, light brown, dark brown, green, and rust orange. They have three dark-colored dorsal stripes usually in dark brown or gray. A dark triangle may be found between their eyes.

On their upper lip runs a white line, as is characteristic of most chorus frogs. Two dark stripes are found running from their nose across each eye and continuing down the groin. Their underbelly is whitish with dark dots on the chest.

In the mating season, males have darker throats than females. Females tend to be a little bigger in size than males.

These frogs are crepuscular. Outside the breeding season, they are rarely seen. The call of a western chorus frog is a short trilling squeak “cree-ee-ee-ee-eek”.

16. Wood Frog

Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvatica) on some wet wood in Michigan, USA
Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvatica) on some wet wood in Michigan, USA. – Source
  • Family: Ranidae
  • Scientific Name: Lithobates sylvatica
  • 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 in the wild

The wood frog is commonly distributed across North America. It 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. It also possesses 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 have a fold running down their dorsum, usually in a bright yellow-brown color. The center of this species is usually white.

Male wood frogs are smaller in size than females. The ventral part of their legs is also colorful.

The white bellies of the larger females fade to a yellow-orange pallor towards the legs. These females are 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 also produce poisons to irritate predators. When captured, a wood frog lets out a piercing cry to startle its predator and annoy the hunter enough to let the frog go.

Species of Toads in Nebraska

17. American Toad

American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus) on a wood plank in Michigan, USA
American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus) on a wood plank in Michigan, USA. – Source
  • Family: Bufonidae
  • Scientific Name: Anaxyrus americanus
  • Other Names: Bufo americanus, hop toad
  • Adult Size: 5 to 10 cm (1.97 to 4 in), record SVL of 11.1 cm (4.4 in)
  • Lifespan: 1 to 10 years in the wild, up to 36 years in captivity

The American toad is one of the native species of toads in Nebraska. There are three subspecies of this toad: the eastern American toad, the dwarf American toad, and the Hudson Bay toad.

The species is found largely in parts of North America. Some of these places include Chihuahua, Mexico; James Bay and Quebec, Canada; and California, Washington, Oregon, and Mississippi USA.

American toads are very rampant because they adapt to any environment in which they can find semi-permanent water for breeding, dense vegetation for cover and protection, and insects for food.

They have short legs, stout bodies, and thick, warty skin. Warts on the skin could be red or yellow, but the general dorsum is usually brown, olive, or gray in color. Changes in skin color may occur because of stress, temperature, or humidity.

Their hindleg digits are fully webbed. They have several dark spots on their backs, each one with one or more warts on it. There is sexual dimorphism in these toads. Males have dark-colored throats in black or brown. The females, which are bigger in size, have white throats and lighter bodies.

This toad is nocturnal, but it shows activity when the weather is warm and humid. It typically hides under rocks, stones, twigs, and other such things in the daytime. Its call is a long and high-pitched “bu-r-r-r-r-r”, usually 6-30 seconds long.

In case of attack or capture by a predator immune to its toxin, the American toad blows up its skin with air to make swallowing it hard or urinates on itself in order to be less desirable to eat.

18. Eastern Narrowmouth

Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis) on a fanned leaf in DeLand, Florida, USA
Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis) on a fanned leaf in DeLand, Florida, USA. – Source
  • Family: Microhylidae
  • Scientific Name: Gastrophryne carolinensis
  • Other Names: Eastern narrowmouth toad, eastern narrow-mouthed toad
  • Adult Size: 2.5 to 4 cm (1 to 1.5 in)
  • Lifespan: up to 6 years in captivity

Eastern narrowmouths are small toads found in the entire southeastern portion of North America. They live almost anywhere they can find shelter and cover while foraging, and moisture.

Characteristically, they have a distinct fold of skin running across their heads behind their eyes. This distinguishes them from other frog species. The fold can move to protect the toad’s eyes from insects.

Unlike most true toads, they have very smooth skin resembling a frog’s skin but not as smooth. The external eardrums that are present in most anurans are not present in this species of frogs.

The head of this toad is narrow, sharp, and pointed. As its name suggests, its mouth is small. This helps it burrow into the soil. Males and females can be told apart by dorsal color shade, as males are typically darker in color than females.

They come in various colors, including light tan, brown, red, reddish-brown, gray, and nearly black. Their mid-dorsal area usually has brightly colored strips covered in dots and splotches. Its stomach is white in color and heavily spotted.

Eastern narrowmouths are nocturnal. Their call has been described as an abrasive sound, resembling a lamb bleating, or an electric buzzer “beeeeeeeeee”. When threatened, they burrow into the soil.

19. Eastern Spadefoot

Eastern Spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrooki) on a fanned leaf in Victoria Gardens, Florida, USA
Eastern Spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrooki) on a fanned leaf in Victoria Gardens, Florida, USA. – Source
  • Family: Scaphiopodidae
  • Scientific Name: Scaphiopus holbrooki
  • 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 the wild

This species of toad is endemic to North America. They are found in southern New England, down to Florida along the Atlantic Coastal Plain, and past the Mississippi Valley and north into the state of Tennessee.

Eastern spadefoots like to live in sandy soil, moderate temperature, and rainy regions. They also live in grasslands, farmlands, swamps, and temporary pools.

They are dark-colored toads. The skin on their backs is full of warts. Dorsal coloration is in different shades ranging from olive to black. Their bellies could be in any light shade from gray to white.

Along their backs are two conspicuous lines that taper together at the posterior end. Their parotid glands are small and they have black spade-like protrusions on their hindlegs to aid burrowing. The color and darkness of skin are affected by the environment and not sex.

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

To avoid predators, this toad quickly buries itself in the soil which its skin blends with. It covers itself with leaves and twigs for protection and insulation.

It also produces a secretion that is foul-tasting and foul-smelling to predators.

20. Fowler’s Toad

Fowler's Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) in leaves at Savage Neck Dunes State National Area Preserve, Virginia, USA
Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) in leaves at Savage Neck Dunes State National Area Preserve, Virginia, 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: usually 5 years

Fowler’s toads are found in the eastern region of the United States, along the Atlantic coastal plain. They like to live in savannas with widely spaced trees and open canopy.

They can be found in grasslands that are conducive to the growth of grasses but not taller trees. They also like to live on beaches. Primarily, they prefer to live in open spaces.

They are usually medium-sized toads. Dorsal coloration is usually tan, gray, brown, or greenish gray. They have dark or black spots on their backs, and each black spot could have three to six warts.

Fowler’s toads characteristically have a white or light mid-dorsal stripe. Bellies are lightly colored with a single gray spot. Typically, the male toads are darker in color and the females lighter.

They are primarily nocturnal but can also be seen acting in the daytime except in extreme heat or cold. Their call sounds like a baby crying or a sheep bleating, and it lasts for 2-5 seconds.

The Fowler’s toad species is considered to be at risk. This is due to the activities of off-road vehicles, the use of chemicals in agriculture, and predation. If roughly handled by predators, they pretend to be dead by lying still.

21. Great Plains Toad

Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus) in wet dirt and rocks in Deuel County, Nebraska, USA
Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus) in wet dirt and rocks in Deuel County, Nebraska, 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 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 native to Nebraska. They are average-sized. 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 they can be seen active during the daytime. Their call is a high-pitched trill like that of American toads, but it is more mechanical and compelling.

22. Plains Spadefoot

Plains Spadefoot (Spea bombifrons) on a rocky surface in Johnstown, Nebraska, USA
Plains Spadefoot (Spea bombifrons) on a rocky surface in Johnstown, Nebraska, USA. – Source
  • Family: Scaphiopodidae
  • Scientific Name: Spea bombifrons
  • Other Names: American spadefoot, European spadefoot, Plains spadefoot toad
  • Adult Size: 3.8 to 6.35 cm (1.5 to 2.5 in), record length of 6.5 cm (2.56 in)
  • Lifespan: up to 13 years in the wild

Plains spadefoots like to live in grasslands with loose soil.

This is because they tend to burrow into the ground, like other spadefoot toads, and need conducive areas for this. They are a native species of toads in Nebraska.

On the head of an individual of this species, a pronounced round protuberance or boss can be noticed. It is located between the eyes of this frog. 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. Western Narrowmouth

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

Western narrowmouths are found in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, and parts of Illinois. They are native to Nebraska. Isolated populations are found in Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.

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

Individuals 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 their 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 that resembles the buzzing of a bee. It sounds like a high “peeeel” buzzer sound and lasts 1-4 seconds. It has also been described as a nasal buzz.

Western narrowmouths are nocturnal and hard to observe because they are very small. They produce toxic or harmful skin secretions, like other species of toads, to protect them from predation.

24. Woodhouse’s Toad

Woodhouse's Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii) sitting on mud, leaves, and wood chips in Cass County, Nebraska, USA
Woodhouse’s Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii) sitting on mud, leaves, and wood chips in Cass County, Nebraska, USA. – Source
  • Family: Bufonidae
  • Scientific Name: Anaxyrus woodhousii
  • Other Names: Bufo woodhousii
  • Adult Size: 6 to 10 cm (2.4 to 3.94 in)
  • Lifespan: 10 to 20 years, record longevity of 36 years

Woodhouse’s toads are found in several states of the US like Arizona, Louisiana, Idaho, Texas, Montana, Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, California, and North Dakota. They also occur in parts of Mexico. They are native to Nebraska.

They live in different habitats — temporary, semi-permanent, and permanent water bodies. Moist meadows, ponds, irrigation ditches, temporary pools, grasslands, farms, desert streams, and even golf courses house these toads.

Their dorsal skin is usually colored gray, brown, olive, green, yellow-green, or yellow, and it has dark blotches on it. A dorsolateral stripe running up to their snout is present in white or whitish color.

Ventrally, Woodhouse’s toads are pale cream or beige, and individuals may have their bellies mottled or not. Black and yellow marks can be noticed towards the ventral groin and thigh areas.

These toads are large and have warts on their skin. They have prominent cranial crests. Sometimes, a protrusion touching the separate paratoid glands can be noticed between these cranial crests.

They are nocturnal, most active during the night, but they are sometimes seen moving around in the daytime when they are not underground. Their call sounds like a sheep bleating but muted, or a snore. This call typically lasts 1-4 seconds.

FAQs

What kind of frogs are in Nebraska ponds?

There are sixteen (16) kinds or species of frogs in Nebraska. They include American bullfrogs, Blanchard’s cricket frogs, boreal chorus frogs, Cope’s gray tree frogs, gray tree frogs, green frogs, mink frogs, mountain chorus frogs, northern cricket frogs, northern leopard frogs, pickerel frogs, plains leopard frogs, spring peepers, upland chorus frogs, western chorus frogs, and wood frogs.

When do frogs come out of hibernation in Nebraska?

In Nebraska, frogs usually come out of hibernation around May or June. By this time, it is spring already, snow is melting and the temperature is more conducive for them.

What kind of toads live in Nebraska?

Eight species of toads live in Nebraska. These kinds of toads include American toads, eastern narrowmouth toads, eastern spadefoot toads, Fowler’s toads, Great Plains toads, plains spadefoot toads, western narrowmouth toads, and Woodhouse’s toads.

Does Nebraska have tree frogs?

Yes, Nebraska has some species of tree frogs. Hylid frogs in Nebraska include Blanchard’s cricket frogs, boreal chorus frogs, Cope’s gray tree frogs, gray tree frogs, mountain chorus frogs, northern cricket frogs, spring peepers, upland chorus frogs, and western chorus frogs.

Conclusion

The US state of Nebraska houses twenty-four (24) frog and toad species: sixteen (16) species of frogs and eight (8) species of toads. It is however home to only six (6) species of frogs and five (5) species of toads.

Despite their peculiarities, frogs and toads are very similar. They both go through a metamorphosis of three stages. From eggs, they develop into larvae (tadpoles), and then grow into adults.

Eggs are fertilized outside their mothers’ bodies, in water, except in species of tailed frogs (genus Ascaphus). Females release their eggs into the water and males release sperm into the water to fertilize the eggs.

This occurs in the breeding season, the period of the year when most frogs and toads are very active. It is also only in this period that they are seen in large numbers, as they are primarily solitary animals.

Males congregate at ponds and call out to females with their mating or advertisement calls, and the females hear them and respond by meeting at the breeding sites. After reproducing, parents mostly show no investment in their young.

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