There are thirteen (13) species of toads and frogs in Oregon.
Twelve are native to the state, and one — the bullfrog — is an invasive species. Oregon is a state in the USA’s northwestern region, with two river boundaries and abundant forest resources.
As toads and frogs are both aquatic (in their larval stage) and terrestrial (in their adulthood), Oregon’s forests and waters are conducive for some species to live. This article is focused on these animals in their adult stage.
Frogs and toads have some similar behaviors and characteristics. They are warm-blooded animals. They have a good sense of sight that helps them sense both prey and predators.
Their diet consists largely of insects and other terrestrial arthropods, but some eat smaller frogs or even frogs of the same species. They are usually eaten by snakes, birds, raccoons, small mammals, and larger frogs.
However, frogs and toads are quite different too. Frogs have long legs and smoother skin. Toads are generally stockier, with shorter legs and dry, warty skin.
They both live around swamps, ponds, lakes, marshes, and bogs. They can also be found along the banks of rivers and streams. They cannot live in saltwater so they mostly occur around either permanent or temporary freshwater sources
As a general anti-predator technique, frogs and toads are cryptically colored. Dorsally, their color matches the vegetation around or the ground, and some can change color to match any surface they are on.
Ventrally, their bellies are white or some other bright color to avoid predation from fish underwater. Most toads secrete poisons from their warty skin and paratoid glands to irritate and harm predators. Many frogs simply taste bad or make themselves less attractive, but some species are poisonous too.
Below is a quick summary of the 3 species of toads and 10 species of frogs in Oregon. You will find their scientific names, alternative names if any, size (SVL — snout-vent length), lifespan, geographical range, habitats of choice, physical description, behavior, males’ advertisement calls, and additional anti-predation techniques.
Unless indicated, these species are not endangered or threatened. This should not be an excuse to harm them anyway.
Table of Contents
Species of Frogs in Oregon
1. Cascades Frog
- Family: Ranidae
- Scientific Name: Rana cascadae
- Other Names: N/A
- Adult Size: 5 to 7.5 cm (1.97 to 2.95 in)
- Lifespan: up to 3 years in the wild
Cascades frogs have their home in the Cascade Range, a mountain range in North America that cuts through parts of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California.
They are a near-threatened species, with populations declining due to pollution and ozone layer depletion. They like to live in shallow ponds, mountain meadows, forests, marshes, or small streams.
They are medium-sized frogs with gold eyes and long legs. They are usually brown, olive-brown, or olive dorsally. They have well-defined spots in darker pigment on their backs.
The underside of a cascades frog is a lighter color towards the groin and beneath the legs, with mottling around the groin. This color could be yellow, yellow-orange, or a yellowish tan. The dorsal part of their legs is also spotted in black.
There is a fold on each side of this frog, running along its back. Its toes are not fully webbed and the thumbs are swollen and darkened in males. Females are slightly larger in size.
Cascades frogs are a diurnal species, showing more activity in the daytime. Their mating call is a series of rapid clucks or low-pitched chuckling, each lasting for half a second.
They move slowly but try to swim faster when they sense danger.
2. Coastal Tailed Frog
- Family: Leiopelmatidae
- Scientific Name: Ascaphus truei
- Other Names: Tailed frog, Pacific tailed frog, Western tailed frog
- Adult Size: 2.2 to 5.1 cm (0.87 to 2.01 in)
- Lifespan: 2 to 9 years, up to 14 years
The coastal tailed frog is found in Canada and the USA, in places like British Columbia, California, Washington, and Oregon.
There is a different distribution of this species in Idaho and Montana as well. They like cold and fast-moving streams.
For this reason, they show some adaptations that are not common among anurans. They have smaller lungs and their toe tips are hard to help them crawl among rocks at the bottom of these streams.
They are small frogs dorsally colored by substrate. They could be tan, chocolate brown, or olive green, and their skin is usually bumpy. Their toes are slightly webbed and their outer hind toes are flattened.
A coastal-tailed frog’s head is flattened and relatively big. Between its snout and eyes, there is a light triangular-shaped mark. It also possesses a dark stripe from the snout to each shoulder.
This species of frogs are not vocal, as they lack tympana. Unlike other anurans that show external fertilization, they show internal fertilization. For this reason, they have a short and tail-like organ for copulation, hence their name.
Males and females are different in that males are slightly smaller than females. Males also develop black horny pads on their thighs to grip females in the breeding season.
They are more active at night than in the daytime. Coastal-tailed frogs do not communicate by calls. This is because they lack tongues, vocal sacs, ear bones, and tympana.
3. Columbia Spotted Frog
- Family: Ranidae
- Scientific Name: Rana luteiventris
- Other Names: N/A
- Adult Size: 4.6 to 10 cm (1.81 to 3.94 in)
- Lifespan: 3 to 13 years in the wild
Another species of frog in Oregon is the Columbia spotted frog. Other places in North America where they occur include Alaska, Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada.
Still and slow-moving freshwater bodies are ideal for these frogs. They are found in ponds, lakes, and slow-moving streams.
A Columbia spotted frog is medium-sized. Its back could be tan, brown, or olive green. Dark and irregularly shaped spots dot its back, legs, and sides. The underbelly is white, off-white, or yellow.
Along its upper lip is a yellowish or white line. It has a narrow snout, shorter legs, and webbed feet. It has rough dorsal folds on its skin.
It is diurnal. Its call is low in pitch and sounds much like rapid knocking or clucking. They are able to startle their predators by an alarm call which is a 6-second shriek.
4. Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog
- Family: Ranidae
- Scientific Name: Rana boylii
- Other Names: N/A
- Adult Size: 3.8 to 9 cm (1.5 to 3.54 in)
- Lifespan: 3 to 12 years in the wild
This species of frog can be found in the US and Mexico. It was formerly abundant in California but the population has recently declined. They are near threatened species because of bullfrogs.
Foothill yellow-legged frogs can be found in woodland streams and rivers and in forests. They are mainly aquatic so they are usually found either in or around water. They like areas with rocks and sunny banks.
They are fairly sized frogs, not large and not small. The color on their backs could be solid and plain, it could also be dotted with darker hues.
The dorsal coloration of these frogs could be gray, reddish, olive, or brown, to match the ground.
They may have a light spot on their upper eyelid. Their heads are wide and pointed, with their tympana small in size. Their entire dorsal skin is covered in tubercles, including the tympana.
Ventrally, they have colored a white, cream, or yellowish pallor. Towards the groin and hindlegs is a yellow color.
Their throats are mottled. Their forelimbs are longer than their hindlimbs, and these hindlegs are entirely webbed.
Sexes are quite different, with females typically larger than males. Males have swollen pads and nuptial pads during the mating season.
They also have a rough and swollen area underneath their first finger, while females lack the swelling but have a longer first finger.
They are a diurnal but shy species and so not much of them is seen or noticed frequently. When frightened, these frogs drive to the bottom of the water and hide among rocks or vegetation.
5. Northern Red-Legged Frog
- Family: Ranidae
- Scientific Name: Rana aurora
- Other Names: N/A
- Adult Size: 5 to 13 cm (2 to 5.25 in)
- Lifespan: up to 15 years in captivity
Red-legged frogs are native to Oregon and California. There are also individuals in British Columbia, Canada. There are two subspecies: Rana aurora aurora (Northern red-legged frog) and Rana aurora draytonii (California red-legged frog).
They occur around the banks of still or slow-moving ponds and streams. They should preferably have vegetation to provide cover for the frogs from predation, the heat of the sun, and the cold of winter.
The dorsal color of this species is usually reddish-brown or gray, with several undefined splotches on their backs in a darker color. There is a light stripe on their jaw and folds on their back and sides.
The ventral color is yellow, with streaks of red on the ventral part of the lower abdomen and back limbs. Their toes are not fully webbed. Differences exist between the subspecies.
The northern subspecies lack vocal sacs while the California species have paired vocal sacs. Northern red-legged frogs have smooth, thin, and unspotted skin.
On the other hand, California red-legged frogs are bigger and have rougher skin with light-centered spots on them.
Differences exist between the sexes as well. Females grow to a larger size than males do. Males have larger forearms and swollen thumbs.
Like most anurans, these frogs prefer to live alone until the reproduction season. They are diurnal frogs. They flee into the water, swimming to its depths, as an anti-predator technique, usually as a response to an attack from a predator.
6. Pacific Treefrog
- Family: Hylidae
- Scientific Name: Pseudacris regilla
- Other Names: Pacific chorus frog, Northern Pacific treefrog
- Adult Size: 1.9 to 5 cm (0.75 to 2 in)
- Lifespan: N/A
Pacific treefrogs inhabit Mexico, Canada, and the US. They can be found in some US states other than Oregon, such as Alaska, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, and Washington.
As their name suggests, they are found in the Pacific Northwest area of North America, but unlike the name may suggest, they live on land. They live in dense vegetation, especially around ponds, springs, swamps, streams, and several other damp places.
On the head of an individual of this species, a distinct Y-shaped mark is noticed, between the eyes.
It has black spots on its dorsal skin and legs. Black stripes are also noticed, starting each one from the shoulder and through each of the eyes.
Although largely terrestrial, they are biologically adapted for climbing. The ends of their toes have sticky circular disks on them. Female frogs are larger than their male conspecifics.
Dorsally, each individual pacific treefrog is colored differently from others and is colored in various hues itself.
Coloration is however usually any shade from lime green to brown. Their skins can change shade depending on humidity and temperature.
They are nocturnal frogs. Their call is a deep and loud croak, a rapid “cree-creek”.
They can change color and this helps them camouflage from predators, but they cannot willingly change their dorsal coloration to match their surroundings.
7. 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: 9 years in the wild (only about 5% of population)
Frogs of this species are native to North America and found in Canada and the USA.
They are found in many types of habitats, including marshlands, brushlands, and forests. Preferably, they live along still or slow-moving water with vegetation and open space.
They are medium-sized. On their backs, they are usually colored green or greenish-brown. There are also brown round spots arranged on their backs, sides, and legs.
A white fold usually runs down their backs that distinguishes them. This dorsolateral fold extends from each of their eyes. From their nose to each shoulder, a white line runs across the mouths of northern leopard frogs.
Below them, their bellies are usually white or greenish-white in color. Males are typically smaller than females, with thickened thumb pads specialized for mating, and paired vocal sacs.
They are nocturnal frogs, showing the most activity at night. Their calls sound like a low and rumbling snore with clicking and croaking occasionally heard in between.
When they are threatened, northern leopard frogs hop away while squawking or screaming. They are also cryptically colored to blend in with the natural hues of their environments. They also employ mimicry.
Pickerel frogs are another species of frogs that look like northern leopard frogs. They secrete poisons that are harmful to and deter their attackers.
These northern leopard frogs occur with pickerel frogs, mimicking them and taking advantage of the resemblance to avoid predation.
8. Oregon Spotted Frog
- Family: Ranidae
- Scientific Name: Rana pretiosa
- Other Names: N/A
- Adult Size: 4.5 to 10 cm (1.8 to 3.94 in)
- Lifespan: usually over 3 years
This aquatic frog species is native and endemic to the Pacific Northwest and the Cascade Mountains.
These frogs are found in Canada and the USA. They have been listed as a vulnerable species, with populations decreasing.
Oregon spotted frogs live in wetlands, breed in shallow ponds with grasses, and hibernate in streams and springs. There are three localities of this frog in British Columbia, four in Washington, and about twenty- four in Oregon.
Dorsal coloration may likely be brown, reddish-brown, or red. This dorsal skin on the back and sides of the frog is covered in tubercles and bumps. There are large black spots on the back, legs, and sides as well.
The large dots are irregularly shaped, with edges indistinct and the middle of the dot colored lighter than these edges. Ventral coloration towards the groin and beneath the hindlegs is usually reddish-orange or salmon-colored.
This species of frog have relatively short hind legs. The toes of their hind legs are webbed extensively. There is a size disparity between the sexes, as females are much bigger than males.
Oregon spotted frogs are nocturnal. Their call is a series of 5 to 50 rapid notes that sound like tapping.
They are a rare and vulnerable species probably due to urbanization, habitat alteration and loss, predators, introduced competitors, and drainage of habitat.
9. Rocky Mountain Tailed Frog
- Family: Leiopelmatidae / Ascaphidae
- Scientific Name: Ascaphus montanus
- Other Names: N/A
- Adult Size: 3.8 to 5.7 cm (1.5 to 2.24 in)
- Lifespan: 7 or 8 years till 15-20 years
The rocky mountain-tailed frog is endemic to the United States and Canada. It is native to Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Washington, and British Columbia. It is found in the Rocky Mountains and the Columbia Mountains.
This frog inhabits small, high-gradient, and fast-flowing mountain streams. It prefers permanent forested streams with clear, cold water, cobble or boulder substrate, and little silt.
Their bodies could be reddish-brown, brown, or olive-gray with spots on them in yellow or gray. Their skin is a granulated texture and they have a dark stripe on each eye. Ventral color is cream, white, or pinkish pallor.
Rocky mountain-tailed frogs lack external eardrums, called tympana. The outer toes of their hindlegs are broader than the other toes.
Males have a pear-shaped organ, the “tail”, for copulation and internal fertilization of eggs. Only this species and coastal-tailed frogs fertilize their eggs internally.
They are most active at night and in humid weather. Otherwise, they remain underwater, hiding under rocks or debris.
Because they do not possess vocal sacs and do not vocalize, there are no mating calls in this species.
10. 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)
- Lifespan: 7 to 9 years in the wild, up to 16 years in captivity
The American bullfrog species is not native to Oregon; these frogs are an invasive species. They are large true frogs native to and widespread across Canada and the United States.
They can be found in different habitats, both natural and man-made. They mostly live in large permanent bodies of water like swamps, ponds, marshes, lakes, canals, rivers, streams, and ditches.
Bullfrogs could be colored green or greenish-brown dorsally, and this color could be dark or bright. Arms and legs are covered in dark spots; their backs and sides may be solid-colored or full of dark dots.
They are powerful swimmers, adapted for swimming with long legs. Their feet are large and webbed. The head of this species is wide and flat, with its eyes golden or reddish-bronze in color.
They show sexual dimorphism by differences in tympanum size and throat color. Males’ tympana are much larger than their eyes and their throats are yellow.
Tympana of females are either smaller than or the same size as their eyes, and their throats are a white or cream pallor.
Because of their big size, bullfrogs are able to eat animals other than insects. They prey on species of frogs that are smaller than them in size.
As a result, there are frog species endangered due to the introduction of bullfrogs in Oregon.
They are active both during the day and at night, but mostly when the weather is moist and warm. They like the warm weather and hibernate in winter. Their call is very deep and resonant, likened to a rumbling “jug-o-rum” sound.
Species of Toads in Oregon
11. Western Toad
- Family: Bufonidae
- Scientific Name: Anaxyrus boreas
- Other Names: Bufo boreas, boreal toad, alkali toad, California toad, Southern California toad
- Adult Size: 5.6 to 13 cm (2.2 to 5.1 in)
- Lifespan: 9 to 11 years
Oregon is home to the species called the western toad.
These toads are found in other states of the US like Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. They also occur in British Columbia, Canada, and parts of Mexico.
This species of toads prefer to live in mountainous areas and have been found in elevations as high as or higher than 10,000 feet.
They can also occupy desert streams and springs, mountain meadows, and grasslands. They are found in or near ponds, streams, lakes, and rivers.
Dorsal coloration is usually a dusky gray or greenish hue. A stripe runs down its back, and this line is white or cream in color. Black or dark-colored splotches can be noticed on the dorsal surface of the toads.
Their paratoid glands are oval and widely spaced. They are larger than the toad’s upper eyelids. Cranial crests are absent in this species.
Ventral coloration is white and the surface is mottled. Males and females are slightly different. Males have smoother skin, fewer blotches on their backs, and nuptial pads on their toes for gripping the females during the breeding season.
The dorsal skin of female western toads is rougher in texture than that of the males. They have many blotches on their skin and lack nuptial pads on their toes. These toads are nocturnal.
The call of this toad species is quiet peeping likened to the sound of little chicks. Like other frogs, their anti-predator mechanism is the poison produced by their paratoid glands and warts on their skin.
12. Woodhouse’s Toad
- Family: Bufonidae
- Scientific Name: Anaxyrus woodhousii
- Other Names: Bufo woodhousii, rocky mountain toad
- Adult Size: 4.4 to 12.7 cm (1.75 to 5 in)
- Lifespan: maximum 13 years
Woodhouse’s toads are found in several populations in states of the US like Arizona, Louisiana, Idaho, Texas, Montana, Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico, California, and North Dakota. They also occur in Mexico.
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, showing most activity at night, but can be sometimes seen moving around in the daytime when they are not underground. Not much activity is noticed from them in the winter and so it is speculated that they hibernate.
Their call sounds like a sheep bleating but muted, or a snore. It typically lasts 1-4 seconds. These toads move slowly, walking or crawling with short hops.
Their defense mechanism is the poisonous secretions from their skin that deter predators.
13. Great Basin Spadefoot
- Family: Scaphiopodidae
- Scientific Name: Spea intermontana
- Other Names: Scaphiopus intermontanus, Great Basin spadefoot toad
- Adult Size: 3.2 to 6.7 cm (1.26 to 2.64 in)
- Lifespan: 11 to 13 years in the wild
Great Basin spadefoots are found in California, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. They are adapted for living in xeric conditions.
These toads are found in deserts, semi-desert shrublands, dunes, scrub forests, mountains, and other dry areas. They are able to survive in these areas by burying themselves in the burrowing-friendly loose soils of these habitats.
Dark spots with their center more brightly colored can be seen on the dorsal skin of a Great Basin spadefoot. This skin is typically gray, brown, or olive in color. There is also an hourglass-shaped marking on its back which is outlined in gray.
Its underbelly is white, creamy, or light gray and it lacks markings.
In comparison to the skin on the backs of true toads, the skin on the back of this species is smooth. Small bumps can still be found on it, however.
These toads have a dark brown or orange spot on each of their upper eyelids. They have large and cat-like eyes with vertical pupils. Their limbs and body are short, fat, and stubby.
Like other species of spadefoot toads, this one has a spade-like tubercle under each hindleg for burrowing. Females tend to be slightly larger in size than males.
Breeding does not take place at a particular time of each year for Great Basin spadefoot toads, but their calls, which are duck-like snoring sounds, are loud and used to attract females for mating. They are primarily nocturnal but they also show activity early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
Red-legged frogs, a species native to Oregon, lay frogs from late November to early April. This is their reproduction/ mating season because they like to breed in the cool water of about six or seven degrees Celsius.
Spawning is the process of reproduction used by amphibians. It involves females releasing eggs and males releasing sperm into the water. Frogs in Oregon usually spawn anytime from May to September.
Oregon frogs hibernate during the winter, as most frog species do. They turn down their body heat in order to save energy and survive the winter without looking for warmer environments or food.
Common frogs in Oregon include: coastal tailed frogs, Columbia spotted frogs, foothill yellow-legged frogs, northern red-legged frogs, pacific treefrogs, northern leopard frogs, Oregon spotted frogs, and rocky mountain tailed frogs.
Frogs in Oregon mate anywhere between March and August, depending on how quickly winter ends.
Toads and frogs are common amphibians found in North America, although only about 3% of amphibian species live on the continent. Some are native and even endemic to regions of the USA, Canada and Mexico.
Most frogs in Oregon are suitable pets as they do not release toxins that cause discomfort to humans. Toads however protect themselves in this way and so are not the best options for household pets.
Generally, anurans are easy and affordable to take care of because of their small size. If you reside in Oregon and are interested in keeping any as a pet or simply interested in watching nature, this article helps to identify species.
Toads and frogs in Oregon can be found in several habitats. Whether you are looking in the mountains, in dry areas, in forests, or in wetlands, you are sure to find species of frogs and toads around, provided the weather is conducive for their activity.