There are three (3) species of toads and eleven (11) species of frogs in New York currently known. This number is out of the 7,000+ species of anurans available throughout the world.
Before going into what species occur in this state and how to identify them, let’s learn about anurans. Toads and frogs are reclusive, preferring to live solitary lives for most of the year. Until the breeding season, that is.
When it is time to reproduce (this is called the breeding season), they gather in large numbers around bodies of water. This is because almost all species fertilize eggs externally, in water.
These animals typically spend their days hiding under vegetation or in burrows. Most of them are then more active at night (nocturnal), some others at dusk and dawn (crepuscular), some of them in the daytime (diurnal), and others active at any time of day depending on factors like temperature and humidity.
Adult anurans eat mostly adult insects, insect larvae, and other non-insect arthropods. They are herbivores as tadpoles. Sometimes, if they are large enough, they may eat smaller frogs and even frogs of the same species.
Common predators include fish, birds, snakes, turtles, raccoons, small mammals, and larger frogs. To avoid predation, they are cryptically adapted to their environment and colored to match their surroundings. Toads secrete poisons from their skin and paratoid glands to destabilize and even kill predators.
Frogs and toads can be told apart by paying more attention to certain details. Toads typically have shorter legs and stockier bodies than frogs, with their skin rough, dry, and full of warts. Frogs’ legs are longer for jumping and their skin is smooth and moist.
Different species, however, possess different characteristics. This article focuses on adults and shares the different parameters by which the species of toads and frogs in New York can be distinguished.
The information you will find below includes biological family, zoological name, other common names, adult size, longevity range (lifespan), geographical range, habitats of choice, physical characteristics, identifying habitats, advertisement calls, and additional measures that they take to avoid predation.
Unless otherwise stated, these species are common and not threatened or endangered. Keep reading to learn more about the species of toads and frogs in New York!
Table of Contents
Species of Frogs in New York
1. Northern Leopard Frog
- 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
The northern leopard frog is found in a large amount of US and Canadian territory. It occurs in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Virginia, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and New York.
They live and breed in both natural and man-made freshwater sources, such as springs, wetlands, edges of marshes, permanent and temporary pools, stream and river banks, and stock tanks.
The skin of this species is smooth and colored green, brown, or yellowish-green. Dark irregularly shaped spots are present on its elongated body and each is surrounded by a border of lighter pigment.
There are two ridges on each side of its back in a lighter color than that of its skin. Each is a white dorsolateral fold from its eye down its back. From the nose to the shoulder, a white line is visible.
Ventrally, it is colored white or greenish-white. Female northern leopard frogs are larger than males. These males have thickened toe pads for gripping the females while mating (called amplexus) and paired vocal sacs.
They are more nocturnal in the breeding season and more diurnal when foraging. To avoid predation, they use their powerful jump to get away when threatened. They also live around pickerel frogs, who have distasteful secretions, mimicking them.
Advertisement calls sound like a snore, low and rumbling, followed by nasal croaks and clicks. A chuckle-like “release” call is also used by males and uninterested females when a male interested in mating grips them.
2. Southern Leopard Frog
- Family: Ranidae
- Scientific Name: Lithobates sphenocephalus
- Other Names: Rana sphenocephala, Florida leopard frog
- Adult Size: 8 cm (3.15 in) on average, up to 13 cm (5.12 in)
- Lifespan: usually <1 year in the wild, up to 2 or 3 years
The southern leopard frog is an endangered species native to the southeastern part of North America. It occurs in US states like Oklahoma, Nebraska, New Jersey, Texas, and New York.
It inhabits areas around bodies of fresh water but leaves the water to moist vegetation in the summer. This species is one of the most terrestrial species of true (ranid) frogs as it shows a lot of activity on land.
Individuals have long legs and slender bodies. Their heads are sharply pointed.
From behind each eye to the hip, there is an obvious fold in a lighter color. Dorsal coloration is usually green or brown, with dark and distinct spots.
The tympana on southern leopard frogs are about the size of their eyes, with a white dot in the middle on some individuals. These frogs do not have toe pads, and females are usually bigger than males.
They are nocturnal, hiding during the day in vegetation close to water. Their calls are short trills that sound like a chicken clucking or like the sound made from rubbing a finger against a balloon.
They usually evade predators by entering the water and swimming away. Humans hunt this species for food, as a source of frog legs.
3. Pickerel Frog
- Family: Ranidae
- Scientific Name: Lithobates palustris
- Other Names: Rana palustris
- Adult Size: 4.5 to 8.7 cm (1.8 to 3.4 in); record snout-vent length 11.4 cm (5.4 in)
- Lifespan: N/A
The pickerel frog is a species of true frogs present in some of Canada and the US. Places, where it can be found, include Ontario, Quebec, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Chicago, Texas, and New York.
Preferred habitats for these frogs are streams and ponds with unpolluted water. They also live around wooded areas, prairies, grassy fields, places with lots of weeds, and springs.
They are usually tan, brown, or olive in color. Two lines of square-like spots are present on their backs, in darker pigment than the underlying color.
There are also folds in their back that extends to their groin area. Along an individual’s upper jaw is a light line.
Their white or whitish bellies may be mottled or simply lack mottling. The ventral surfaces of their groins and hindlegs are bright yellow to orange.
They are nocturnal, hiding away or resting during the day. They also hibernate in the winter and can be found beneath pools at this time.
Some larger frogs eat pickerel frogs. Their skin produces some toxins when they feel threatened. This is how they protect themselves from predation, as their secretions deter attackers.
4. Wood Frog
- 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 another species of frog in New York.
It is a common species in and across North America. Other places where it occurs include Alaska, Alabama, Idaho, Georgia, British Columbia, and other northeastern states of the US.
It spends most of its time on the ground or around trees. It inhabits quite a variety of habitats like wet meadows, forests, and terrestrial locations. They are aquatic breeders and may leave their primary habitat to reproduce.
A wood frog can be identified by the mask-like markings across its eyes. A black patch from each tympanum to the base of each foreleg can be noticed. Across its upper lip is a white outline.
Its dorsal coloration could be any shade of gray, green, brown, tan, or rust. It has a lateral mid-dorsal fold, usually bright yellow-brown in color. The ventral coloration of the frog is white. There is sexual dimorphism between the sexes.
Female wood frogs are more brightly colored dorsally than males. Males are smaller in size, with the skin underneath their legs colorful.
On the other hand, female wood frogs are bigger. Their white bellies fade to a yellow-orange pallor towards the legs.
Frogs of this species are diurnal, actively foraging during the day. Their calls sound like the quacking of a duck or the squawking of a chicken.
They are cryptically adapted to their surroundings, blending with the forest floor to evade predators. They also produce poisons to irritate them. When captured, a wood frog lets out a piercing cry.
5. Spring Peeper
- 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 chorus frogs. They occur in places other than New York such as Maine, Manitoba, Texas, Florida, and Cuba. They are good climbers but they are usually on the ground, in ponds, swamps, and pools.
They have been noticed in various shades of brown, gray, and olive. More rarely, they can be found in reddish and yellow colors. Their ventral coloration is usually white or cream.
A dark cross can be noticed on their backs and dark bands on their legs. Their feet are moderately webbed and they have large pads on their fingers and toes, an adaptation for climbing.
Spring peepers are known for their chirping calls. These calls usually mark the beginning of spring, hence the name. They are primarily nocturnal, showing the most activity during the later part of the day.
To avoid being attacked, they are colored in such a way that they blend in with their natural surroundings. They also jump away from attackers and bury themselves in mud or deep water.
6. Western Chorus Frog
- 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
The western chorus frog is another species of frog in New York. It lives east of the Mississippi River, in such places as Ontario, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois.
Individuals like to live in open and damp areas like marshes, moist woodlands, meadows, edges of forests, flood plains, and swamps.
Dorsal coloration largely varies and these frogs come in colors such as gray, light brown, dark brown, green, and rust orange. They have three dark dorsal stripes in dark brown or gray. A dark triangle may be found between their eyes.
There is a white line on their upper lip. Two dark stripes run from the snout across each eye and continue down the groin. Underneath the frog, the belly is whitish and there are 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. Their excellent vision is used to both sense and evade predators and catch prey.
These frogs are crepuscular. Outside the breeding season, they are rarely seen. The call of a western chorus frog is a short trill. It has been likened to a squeak, sounding “cree-ee-ee-ee-eek”.
7. American Bullfrog
- Family: Ranidae
- Scientific Name: Lithobates catesbeianus
- Other Names: Rana catesbeianus, Bullfrog, North American bullfrog
- Adult Size: 9 to 15.2 cm (3.5 to 6 in), record length 20.3 cm (8 in)
- Lifespan: 7 to 9 years in the wild, up to 16 years in captivity
The bullfrog is native to the Nearctic region. This is the subtropical, tropical, temperature, and arctic region of North America which covers parts of the USA, Canada, and Mexico.
It has also been introduced to Asia, Europe, and South America.
This species must live in water so they live around water bodies, preferring warm, still, and shallow water. They are usually found around bogs, lakes, rivers, or ponds.
Bullfrogs are the largest kinds of true (ranid) frogs in North America. They are longer and heavier than other species. They have fully webbed hind limbs.
On its back, it could be colored any shade of brown or green. Spots of a darker color can be noticed as well. The male and female bullfrogs can be easily identified and distinguished.
While males have yellow throats in the breeding season, females have white throats. The external ear is much larger than the eye in males, but it is smaller than or the same size as the eye in females of this species.
They are both nocturnal and diurnal, showing the most activity in warm and humid weather. Their low rumbling calls can be heard from far distances. The calls have been described as a “jug-o-rum”.
The bullfrog is a predatory and cannibalistic species. These frogs eat snakes, salamanders, crustaceans, smaller frogs, and other terrestrial vertebrates.
They are eaten by humans as a source of frog legs but not by some animals because they are foul-tasting.
8. Green Frog
- Family: Ranidae
- Scientific Name: Lithobates clamitans
- Other Names: Rana clamitans, northern green frog, bronze frog
- Adult Size: 7.5 to 12.5 cm (2.95 to 4.92 in)
- Lifespan: up to 10 years in captivity
Green frogs are native to eastern North America. They can be found along slow-moving streams and rivers.
They are typically found around water but may move into meadows and wooded areas in rainy seasons.
Frogs of this species are mostly colored green, yellow-green, brown, brownish-green, or olive, with some rare blue ones. They have irregular dark spots on their backs and diagonal bands on their legs. Their bellies are yellow or white.
They have extensively webbed toes. Their external ears are quite large. The tympana are much larger than the eye in males and the same size as the eye in females. Males are also identified by their bright yellow throats.
Green frogs are both nocturnal and diurnal. Their mating call is a twang that sounds like a plucked banjo string. They make use of other calls like aggressive calls, release calls, alert calls, and advertisement calls.
To avoid predators, they employ the excellent vision that most anurans possess. This helps them quickly detect their attackers and run away. They sometimes employ mimicry by living around mink frogs, which they look like.
9. Mink Frog
- Family: Ranidae
- Scientific Name: Lithobates septentrionalis
- Other Names: North frog
- Adult Size: 4.5 to 7.6 cm (1.8 to 3 in)
- Lifespan: up to 6 years in the wild
The name of this species of frogs comes from their smell — they smell like minks, like rotting onions. Mink frogs are found in regions of Canada and the United States. They inhabit parts of Wisconsin, Quebec, Maine, Minnesota, Michigan, Manitoba, and New York.
They are aquatic for the most part and so they like to live in permanent wetlands or around some body of freshwater. They prefer to live around ponds, lakes, or streams with water lilies because they use these plants as a sort of protection. They can as well live on land in forested and damp areas.
Mink frogs are small and they are usually brown, olive, or green in color. They possess smooth skin with dark irregular blotches and dots on it. If present, the ridges on their backs are poorly developed.
Their ventral side is usually whitish or yellowish in color. All five digits of their hindlimbs are webbed together. They also have round spots or stripes on the upper part of their back legs.
Tympanum size and throat color can be used as parameters for differentiating between the sexes. Males have large external ears and bright yellow throats. Females have smaller tympana and their throats are usually white or pale yellow.
Mink frogs’ call is a rapid series of three or more croaks and it sounds like a metal hammer tapping on wood. When in a large chorus, the sound they produce sounds much like popcorn popping.
Their nocturnal activity makes them less noticed by predators. When attacked or threatened, they produce a foul odor, much like the smell of rancid onions. This makes them a less attractive meal to their attackers.
10. Gray Treefrog
- Family: Hylidae
- Scientific Name: Hyla versicolor
- Other Names: Dryophytes versicolor, eastern gray treefrog
- Adult Size: 3 to 5 cm (1.18 to 1.9 in), record length 6 cm (2.25 in)
- Lifespan: 7 to 9 years
Gray treefrogs are native to and can only be found in the eastern part of the USA and southeastern region of Canada.
They are arboreal, living 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 have rough and warty skin, rougher than the average frog but smoother than the average toad. They possess large, advanced, and sticky toe pads, an adaptation for climbing.
The dorsal coloration on gray treefrogs is, like their name suggests, usually gray. There are however frogs of this species in brown, green, and ivory. Black blotches are also present on their backs. Environmental factors like humidity and season may change their dorsal color.
Ventral coloration is white. Black speckles can be found on this white surface towards the groin. Beneath each eye of a gray treefrog, there is usually a white mark. There is no sexual dimorphism between males and females of this species.
Gray treefrogs are nocturnal and crepuscular, showing most activity from dusk into the night and until dawn. Their call sounds like a flute playing a musical trill. It is fast but short.
To avoid predation, they live high in trees and are adaptively colored to blend in with their surroundings. Their nocturnal and crepuscular activity also makes them less noticed by potential attackers.
11. Eastern Cricket Frog
- Family: Hylidae
- Scientific Name: Acris crepitans
- Other Names: Northern cricket frog, northeastern cricket frog
- Adult Size: 1.6 to 3.8 cm (0.625 to 1.5 in)
- Lifespan: typically 4 months, up to 4.9 years
Frogs of this species live in the eastern and central United States, extending to the northeastern part of Mexico. They live along the edges of ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams.
They have small and slender bodies, with moist and warty skin. Their hind legs are quite short and their toes webbed. A dark triangle shape can be noticed in between and above their eyes.
The dorsal color of eastern cricket frogs is usually gray or light brown. There are bands on their legs in darker pigment. From each eye to the base of the foreleg on the corresponding side is a white bar.
On their backs, there is a stripe or Y-shaped figure. It is in the middle and could be bright green, yellow, brown or gray. This species of hylid frogs are not adapted for climbing as they lack toe pads.
The call of an eastern cricket frog sounds metallic, resembles steely marbles, and lasts for approximately one second. It is a diurnal frog. It has a powerful jump of over 3 feet and uses it to evade predators. It does so by jumping in a zigzag manner thereby confusing them.
Species of Toads in New York
12. American Toad
- Family: Bufonidae
- Scientific Name: Anaxyrus americanus
- Other Names: Bufo americanus, east American toad
- 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
American toads are the most common species of toads in North America. They occur across Canada, Mexico, and the eastern part of the United States. They can be found in different habitats, both natural and man-made.
Some of these habitats include rainforests, streams, ponds, and even backyards. Any type of habitat is conducive for them provided they have semi-permanent water to breed in, insects to eat, and thickset vegetation to cover them as they hunt.
Toads of this species are stout and have yellow or red warts on their skin. This dorsal skin is thick and is colored differently with each individual. Possible colors include olive green, gray, reddish-brown, and tan, and the color could be plain or include patterns.
Their legs are short, with their wart patterns different from those of other toads. Many dark spots fill their backs, and each spot has one or two warts. Their pupils are black with gold circles around them.
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.
American toads are nocturnal and they prefer to show activity when the weather is warm and humid. During the day, they hide under rocks, stones, twigs, and other such things. The advertisement call of a male is a trill — long, high-pitched, and neat-sounding — described as 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 some glands in their skin. This secretion causes harm if ingested or if it gets into the eyes.
However, some species of snakes are immune to this secretion. When attacked by such snakes, American toads urinate on themselves or inflate themselves with air. This makes them undesirable and hard to eat.
13. Fowler’s Toad
- Family: Bufonidae
- Scientific Name: Anaxyrus fowleri
- Other Names: Bufo fowleri
- Adult Size: 5.1 to 9.5 cm (2 to 3.75 in)
- Lifespan: 0 to 5 years
This species of toad is found in the eastern region of the United States, along the Atlantic Coastal Plain.
They typically live in savannas which have widely spaced trees and open canopy. They also like to live on beaches, preferring to live in open spaces.
They bear similar characteristics to other anurans, including toothless jaws and amplified parotid glands.
They are usually medium-sized and tan, gray, brown, or greenish-gray in color. They have dark or black spots on their backs, and each black spot could have three to six warts.
They have a white or light mid-dorsal stripe and light bellies with a single gray spot. Typically, the male toads are darker in color and the females lighter.
Conflicting information exists about the behavior of Fowler’s toads. Some sources claim this species of toads are completely nocturnal while others say that they are active only during the day, except in extreme heat or cold. The call of these toads sounds like the bleating of a sheep.
In addition to wide vision and adaptive coloration, this species of toads pretend to be dead by lying still if roughly handled by predators. When attacked, they secrete a toxic liquid from warts on their skin to irritate and even poison their predators.
14. Eastern Spadefoot
- 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 species is endemic to North America. The eastern spadefoot likes sandy soil, moderate temperature, and rainy regions. They like to burrow into the ground, then cover themselves with leaves and twigs for protection and insulation.
Eastern spadefoots are dark in color. The skin on their backs is full of warts.
Dorsal coloration is in different shades ranging from olive to black. Ventral coloration could be gray to white.
They have two conspicuous lines running along their backs and tapering together at the posterior end.
They have small parotid glands, large eyes for nocturnal sight, and black spade-like protrusions on their hind legs to aid burrowing. The color and darkness of skin are affected by the environment and not sex.
They like to live alone and are active both in the day and at night, but more active during the day. They are very active in humid weather. Their call is a low-pitched “waaaaa” repeated at short intervals.
They feed on insects, insect larvae, worms, arachnids, termites, and other invertebrates. Other toads, different species of snakes, and various birds feed on the eastern spadefoot.
To avoid predators, this toad quickly buries itself in the soil which its skin blends with. It also produces a secretion that is foul-tasting and foul-smelling to predators.
Three species of toads live in New York. They include the American toad, Fowler’s toad, and eastern spadefoot toads.
There are eleven types of frogs in New York. These are northern leopard frogs, southern leopard frogs, pickerel frogs, wood frogs, spring peepers, western chorus frogs, bullfrogs, green frogs, mink frogs, gray treefrogs, and eastern cricket frogs.
Yes, toads in New York are poisonous to dogs. Most toads secrete toxins from their skin that are irritant, even to humans, and harmful to some predators.
The three species found in New York — the American toad, Fowler’s toad, and eastern spadefoot — are all poisonous.
The tree frog family is called Hylidae. Although most frogs in this family live on trees, a number of them do not.
Frogs that belong to the tree frog family in New York are spring peepers, western chorus frogs, gray treefrogs, and eastern cricket frogs.
Toads and frogs in New York are found in habitats that other anurans elsewhere are typically found in. This includes temporary pools, slow-moving streams, banks of rivers, lakesides, swamps, marshes, and bogs.
New York is a state in the northeastern part of the USA. Even with the development and urbanization in cities like New York City, Buffalo, and Albany, the state is home to fourteen (14) anuran species.
The breeding season is where the most activity is noticed in frogs and toads. Males call out to females (these are called advertisement calls) or partake in breeding choruses. Some species have more than one call for other reasons like alarm and signals.
Females recognize these advertisement calls and meet with them to mate. There is usually no parental investment afterward. When the eggs hatch, they go through a three-stage metamorphosis, becoming larvae (tadpoles) and then growing into adulthood.
It should be noted that frogs and toads do not have internal ears. Their hearing is specialized and they only pick up sounds that are necessary for their survival. These sounds include calls of conspecifics (other animals of their species) and movement of prey and predators.
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