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Frogs in Tennessee

There are twenty-one (21) species of toads and frogs in Tennessee. Tennessee is a state in the southern part of the USA, and various anuran species are native to the southeastern or southern regions of the US.

A number of these species are endemic to either the United States or North America. However, there are over 5,000 species of frogs and toads known around the world today.

Frogs and toads belong to the same order and have various similarities. They are both chordates that live both on land and in water. Their forelimbs have four digits each while their hindlegs have five each.

They also lack tails, scales on their backs, and claws on their feet. Both frogs and toads breed and reproduce in water. They go through metamorphosis, from egg to larva and to adult.

All toads are frogs but not all frogs are toads, as toads are a subclass of frogs. They are both insectivorous, eating mostly insects. They have as many differences as they have similarities.

While toads have dry and warty skin, frogs have more smooth and slimy skin. Frogs have much longer legs for jumping and hopping. Toads have shorter legs and they prefer to crawl.

This article lists the 17 species of frogs and 4 species of toads currently known in Tennessee. Adults are the focus of this species. Their predators are snakes, birds, small mammals, raccoons, fish, and larger frogs.

Information to be found includes their zoological names, size, lifespan, geographical range, habitats, physical descriptions, calls, and anti-predator mechanisms. Unless indicated, these species are not threatened or endangered.

Table of Contents

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

Species of Frogs in Tennessee

1. Northern Cricket Frog

Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans) on dry leaves in White County, Tennessee, USA
A Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans) on dry leaves in White County, Tennessee, 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 4.9 years in captivity

Northern cricket frogs can be found in parts of the US, Canada, and Mexico. They do not live on trees despite being in the family Hylidae, the family of mainly treefrogs. They are found along ponds, streams, lakes, and rivers.

These frogs have small bodies, warts on their skin, webbed toes, and a triangle mark between their eyes. They also have fairly long hind limbs that are not adapted for climbing.

The skin on their backs may be gray, light brown, or green. Many of them have a mid-dorsal stripe, usually orange or brown, running down their backs.

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

They are more active during the day than at night. The call of the northern cricket frog sounds like two stones being quickly clicked together. 

Northern cricket frogs are not arboreal, so they cannot climb trees to avoid predators.

As an anti-predator mechanism, they have a powerful jump of over three feet. They jump in a zigzag manner to escape predators.

2. Southern Cricket Frog

Southern Cricket Frog (Acris gryllus) on a dry leaf near Hickory Valley, Tennessee, USA
A Southern Cricket Frog (Acris gryllus) on a dry leaf near Hickory Valley, Tennessee, USA. – Source
  • Family: Hylidae 
  • Scientific Name: Acris gryllus 
  • Other Names: Southeastern cricket frog
  • Adult Size: 1.2 to 3.3 cm (0.5 to 1.3 in)
  • Lifespan: 4 months

The southern cricket frog, as its name suggests, is native to the southeastern part of the US.

It occurs in temperate regions, preferring the ground or sunny freshwater areas. It also does not climb trees; it likes moist areas with vegetation.

Southern cricket frogs resemble the northern ones. They are also small, with an orange to brown stripe running down the middle of their backs. The dorsal coloration of this species could be black, brown, reddish-brown, tan, olive green, or gray.

They also do not have toe pads for climbing. They possess a triangular marking on their head and a dark stripe on their thighs.

This dark stripe has rough edges on a northern cricket frog, but straight edges on a southern cricket frog. It is bordered by a stripe of lighter pigment.

Southern cricket frogs are smaller and more slender than the northern ones, with their snouts more pointed, toes less webbed and warts less prominent. They also have over twice the northern cricket frog’s jump power, able to jump up to eight feet.

Ventral coloration is white. The call of this species of frogs also sounds like two marbles clicking together. However, this clicking sound is slower than that of the northern cricket frogs.

They as well do not escape predators by living in trees. They employ their jump power to quickly jump far away and evade these attackers.

They can change their dorsal color and blend with their surroundings to avoid being seen.

3. Bird-Voiced Treefrog

Bird-voiced Treefrog (Hyla avivoca) sitting on a piece of wood in Collierville, Tennessee, USA
A Bird-voiced Treefrog (Hyla avivoca) sitting on a piece of wood in Collierville, Tennessee, USA. – Source
  • Family: Hylidae 
  • Scientific Name: Hyla avivoca 
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: 2.8 to 5.2 cm (1.1 to 2.05 in); 3.2 cm (1.26 in) on average
  • Lifespan: 2.5 years, up to 4 years in captivity

Bird-voiced treefrogs are endemic to the United States.

They are endangered in the state of Illinois but abundant around Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee. They live in trees above water bodies.

Their backs are smooth, like most frogs’, and green, brown, gray, or black in color. They have darker-colored splotches on their backs.

Their toes are webbed and padded for climbing, their eyes bulging and snouts rounded.

They have white spots underneath their eyes and dark stripes on their limbs colored gray or yellow-green. The ventrum is white with dark spots. Males are typically smaller in size than females.

The call of the bird-voiced treefrog sounds like the chirp of a bird, hence the name.

It is a solitary species, with individuals living alone until the breeding season when they gather in groups about breeding pools. They are most active at night.

Their green and brown coloration helps them blend into the environment, reducing the chances of being noticed by predators. Their nocturnality and arboreal activity are also measures to reduce attention from attackers.

4. Cope’s Gray Treefrog

Cope's Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) on a leaf stem in Morgan County, Tennessee, USA
A Cope’s Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) on a leaf stem in Morgan County, Tennessee, USA. – Source
  • Family: Hylidae 
  • Scientific Name: Hyla chrysoscelis 
  • Other Names: Southern gray treefrog 
  • Adult Size: 3.2 to 6 cm (1.26 to 3.26 in)
  • Lifespan: 2.5 to 7 years in captivity

Another species of frog in Tennessee is the Cope’s gray treefrog.

These frogs are native to North America, commonly found in  Ontario, Canada, and other USA states like Texas and Florida. They can be found around both temporary and permanent water bodies.

These species of frogs show no sexual dimorphism. Males and females look alike, with a white mark underneath each eye.

Their bodies are quite rough and warty, although smoother than the bodies of most toads. Their toes have pads, a biological adaptation for climbing.

Dorsal coloration is largely varied and is affected by substrate, humidity, and season. These frogs are most commonly colored gray with black blotches on their backs. There are also individual Cope’s gray treefrogs colored green and brown.

They are nocturnal, showing most activity in the daytime. Like most frogs, this species is solitary and sedentary. Their call is a fast and flute-like trill that is high in pitch.

Some larger frog species hunt and feed on Cope’s gray treefrogs because of their fairly small size. They avoid their predators through their nocturnal activity and cryptic adaptation.

5. Green Treefrog

Green Treefrog (Hyla cinerea) on a large leaf in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
A Green Treefrog (Hyla cinerea) on a large leaf in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA. – Source
  • Family: Hylidae 
  • Scientific Name: Hyla cinerea 
  • Other Names: American green treefrog
  • Adult Size: 3.2 to 6.4 cm (2.6 to 5.2 in)
  • Lifespan: 6 years in captivity

The green treefrog is a common species. It is found largely across central and southeastern states of the US. It prefers to live in habitats with floating vegetation and open canopy.

Their legs are long with big toe pads, and their skin is smooth. They possess extensively webbed hind legs with two tubercles between the toes.

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

Green treefrogs are usually bright yellow-green in color. Individuals also come in other colors, in any shade between reddish-brown and green. There are golden spots on top of the dorsal color.

Their belly is usually white or cream in color. On each side of their dorsum, there is a prominent lateral stripe running along its length. The stripe is also colored white or cream.

They are solitary for most of the year and most active in moist or humid weather. They communicate with each other using different and distinct calls. There is a mating call, a call to signal when they sense rain, and an alarm call.

They avoid predators by closing their eyes and tucking in their legs to blend in with the color of the leaves. This is a form of cryptic adaptation.

6. The Barking Treefrog

Barking Treefrog (Hyla gratiosa) climbing the bark of a tree in Dunlap, Tennessee, USA
A Barking Treefrog (Hyla gratiosa) climbing the bark of a tree in Dunlap, Tennessee, USA. – Source
  • Family: Hylidae 
  • Scientific Name: Hyla gratiosa
  • Other Names: Dryophytes gratiosus
  • Adult Size: 5.1 to 7 cm (2.01 to 2.76 in)
  • Lifespan: 7 to 12.5 years in captivity

Barking treefrogs occur both on land and in water. Where they are found is influenced by the weather.

They can be found high on trees when the weather is warm and humid, and on the ground when the weather is dry.

They are the largest species of frogs currently known in the southeastern region of the United States. They are usually colored gray, brown, or green and their backs have round spots.

Their bodies could change color due to different factors like humidity, temperature, and substrate. When such a change in dorsal coloration occurs, the spots on their bodies would fade to a lighter shade as well.

A yellow stripe is noticeable on each side of the barking treefrog species. Their toes have large and sticky pads for climbing trees. Their dorsal skin is usually rough.

As their name suggests, the call of barking treefrogs resembles the barking of a dog. It has 9 to 10 syllables. They are most active at night and are solitary for most of the year.

To avoid predators, they are able to detect movement easily. Their sense of sight and adaptive coloration help them sense and avoid attackers quickly. They are their anti-predator mechanisms.

7. Gray Tree Frog

Squirrel Tree Frog (Hyla squirella) on stems covered in sand in Columbia, South Carolina
A Squirrel Tree Frog (Hyla squirella) on stems covered in sand in Columbia, South Carolina. – Source
  • Family: Hylidae 
  • Scientific Name: Hyla squirella
  • Other Names: Rain frog, chameleon frog
  • Adult Size: 2.2 to 4.1 cm (0.87 to 1.6 in)
  • Lifespan: 8.5 years in captivity

Frogs of this species are endemic to the eastern part of the USA and southeastern region of Canada. They are commonly found in small areas full of trees and have been noticed up to 20 meters above the ground.

They physically look a lot like Cope’s gray treefrogs. Even their calls sound alike. Males and females of this species show no sexual dimorphism.

The skin of a gray treefrog is usually rough and warty, rougher than the average frog but smoother than the average toad. Their toe pads are large, advanced, adhesive, and adapted to climbing.

Dorsal color is usually gray, but there are frogs of this species in other colors such as brown, green, and ivory. Black splotches can be noticed on their skin. Environmental factors like humidity and season may change their dorsal color.

The underbelly is white or another whitish pigment. Black speckles can be found on this white surface in the area towards the groin. Beneath each eye of a gray treefrog, there is usually a white mark.

Frogs of this species are largely solitary, nocturnal, and crepuscular. Their call sounds like the call of a Cope’s gray treefrog, only that the flute-like trill of a gray treefrog is much shorter.

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

8. Mountain Chorus Frog

Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona) on a rock in Franklin County, Tennessee, USA
A Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona) on a rock in Franklin County, Tennessee, 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 in), average 2.8 cm (1.1 in)
  • Lifespan: 5 to 7 years in the wild (for only 15% of eggs)

Mountain chorus frogs are found in two separate populations: one in the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, and the other in central and northern Alabama. They are usually found in places with lots of trees, preferring to breed in shallow pools and ditches.

Their dorsal coloration is usually anywhere from gray to olive. Most individuals are light brown and have dots in different shades of brown on their backs.

Dorsal color can also change with age. Males’ throats are significantly darker, while females’ throats are white.

Mountain chorus frogs have a dorsal stripe running across each of their eyes and down their back.

They have a marking on their backs that looks like reverse parentheses { )( }. The reverse parentheses occasionally touch and form an X shape on their backs.

They also have a dark triangle between their eyes. Like on most chorus frogs, there is a white line on their upper lip. Under the legs, flashes of yellow can be seen. This yellow coloration cannot be seen when the frog is at rest.

Mountain chorus frogs are a solitary species, only interacting and communicating during the breeding season. Their call is described as a succession of rapid, high-pitched, and slightly shrill chirps.

They are cryptically adapted to their environment. Their dorsal color blends into the leafy surroundings, making them less conspicuous to predators. These small frogs are sometimes hunted and eaten by bigger frog species.

9. The Spring Peeper

Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) on dark gravel in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
A Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) on dark gravel in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA. – Source
  • Family: Hylidae 
  • Scientific Name: Pseudacris crucifer 
  • Other Names: Peeper
  • Adult Size: 1.9 to 3.5 cm (0.75 to 1.3 in)
  • Lifespan: 3 to 4 in captivity

The spring peeper occurs in some eastern and southeastern states of the US, and in parts of Canada like Manitoba.

It lives on trees in moist forests and other areas with trees, fields, grassy lowlands, and ponds. It could also be found in mud when hibernating.

A spring peeper is typically gray, tan, olive-brown, or brown in color. Ventrally, it is white in color.

There is an often irregular brown mark on its X-shaped back. Males and females show no conspicuous dimorphism.

Dark bands can be noticed on the legs of this frog. Its feet are moderately webbed and have sticky toe pads. Although this frog lives mostly in trees, it is often seen on the ground among leaves.

Spring peepers are nocturnal and solitary. When not breeding, they are hard to see around. Their calls are chirp-like, high, and in whistles. This call signals the beginning of spring, hence the name of the species.

To avoid being attacked, these frogs are cryptically colored to blend in with their environment. They also jump away from predators and aestivate.

10. Upland Chorus Frog

Upland Chorus Frog (Pseudacris feriarum) on some green leaves and sticks in Harriman, Tennessee, USA
An Upland Chorus Frog (Pseudacris feriarum) on some green leaves and sticks in Harriman, Tennessee, 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: N/A

Another species of frog in Tennessee is the upland chorus frog.

They are found in the southeastern and eastern parts of the US and are endemic to the United States. In South Carolina’s coastal plain, there are a few isolated frogs of this species.

Habitats they prefer include meadows, moist forests, ponds, and marshes. They are also found in wetlands, woodlands, grassy areas, and bogs.

Upland chorus frogs are quite small. Their backs are usually brown or gray in color. They have markings on their backs which vary highly across individuals, with the dorsum looking spotted or streaked.

A light line can be noticed across the upper lip. There is also a dark stripe running through the eye and down the back.

Three longitudinal stripes may be noticed running down their backs, but these lines are usually broken in their presence or entirely absent.

Males are physically different from females. They have a large vocal sac under their chin which is absent in the females. The frogs show more activity at night than in the daytime.

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

11. Crawfish Frog

Crawfish Frog (Lithobates areolatus) in grass in Alabama, USA
A Crawfish Frog (Lithobates areolatus) in grass in Alabama, USA. – Source
  • Family: Ranidae 
  • Scientific Name: Lithobates areolatus 
  • Other Names: Rana areolatus 
  • Adult Size: 5.7 to 11.4 cm (2.25 to 4.5 in)
  • Lifespan: N/A

Frogs of this species are called crawfish frogs because they inhabit burrows of crayfish. They can be found in moist meadows, prairies, grassy fields, semi-permanent wetlands, and fishless ponds.

They have large and stocky bodies. A conspicuous lump in their lower back differentiates them from other frogs. They have large heads with spotted upper jaws.

Many irregular dark spots with lighter borders dot the skin on their backs. The skin is usually a dark shade of brown.

The snout is cone-shaped. There are two ridges running along the length of their backs, one on each side of the body.

Their ventral side is white and spotless. Males are physically distinct from females in that they have paired vocal pouches and enlarged thumbs, while females do not.

The call of crawfish frogs is like a loud, deep, and resonant snore. They live underground for most of the year.

They used to be more common but populations are now declining, causing some concern in some states.

12. Gopher Frog

Gopher Frog ( Lithobates capito ) in sand and red straw near St Johns River, Florida, USA
A Gopher Frog ( Lithobates capito ) in sand and red straw near St Johns River, Florida, USA. – Source
  • Family: Ranidae 
  • Scientific Name: Lithobates capito 
  • Other Names: Rana capito
  • Adult Size: 6 to 9 cm (2.36 to 3.54 in)
  • Lifespan: 6 years in the wild, 7 years in captivity

The gopher frog species is endemic to the southeastern region of the United States. It is found in the Atlantic coastal plains of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. It is also found in Tennessee.

They are primarily found in hot and dry upland habitats and in woodlands with an open canopy.

They are named gopher frogs because they usually seek shelter in the burrows of gopher tortoises and other mammals. Populations of the gopher frog have declined due to fire suppression and loss of habitat.

This frog is stubby and robust. Its dorsal skin is heavily spotted in the dark pigment, and it could be rough or smooth. The frog is usually colored brightly in yellow-white, brown, or gray.

Oftentimes, the ventrum is white, cream or yellow in color and spotted in darker pigment. They have two lateral ridges running down each side of their backs. The forelimbs of this species are relatively short and their snouts are usually pointed.

The gopher frog is a nocturnal frog. Its call sounds like a snore, deep and throaty. To escape predators, they are cryptically colored and make use of burrows. They prey on smaller frogs.

13. American Bullfrog

American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) by water in mud at Jacob's Nature Park, Tennessee, USA
An American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) by water in mud at Jacob’s Nature Park, Tennessee, USA. – Source
  • Family: Ranidae 
  • Scientific Name: Lithobates catesbeianus 
  • Other Names: Rana catesbeianus, bullfrog
  • Adult Size: 9 to 15.2 cm (3.5 to 6 in)
  • Lifespan: 7 to 9 years in the wild, 16 years in captivity

The bullfrog is native to eastern North America but it has been introduced to other places like parts of Europe, Asia, and South America. It is a largely aquatic species that can be found around still and shallow bodies of water.

Swamps, ponds, marshes, ditches, rivers, and streams with abundant vegetation are common and preferred habitats. They can be found along the banks of streams too.

Bullfrogs are the largest species of true frogs existing in North America.

They come in various dorsal colors, in different shades from brown to green, with darker colored blotches on their backs. They have fully webbed hind legs and white bellies.

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

Also, the males’ throats are yellow while the females’ throats are white during mating season.

These frogs are active both during the day and at night, so they are both diurnal and nocturnal.

They however prefer warm and humid weather. The time of day does not matter; if it is warm and rainy, bullfrogs are likely to be seen active.

Their call has been described as a low rumbling “jug-o-rum”. They eat terrestrial vertebrates, even frogs of the same species, and endanger some other species of frogs.

Humans hunt them for meat but they face no threat of extinction. Their undesirable taste saves them from predation.

14. Green Frog

Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans) on rocks in Westmoreland, Tennessee, USA
A Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans) on rocks in Westmoreland, Tennessee, USA. – Source
  • Family: Ranidae 
  • Scientific Name: Lithobates clamitans 
  • Other Names: Rana clamitans 
  • Adult Size: 7.5 to 12.5 cm (2.95 to 4.92 in)
  • Lifespan: up to 10 years in captivity

The green frog is native to the eastern part of North America.

This frog can be found along slow-moving streams and rivers. It is typically found around water but moves into meadows and wooded areas in rainy weather.

Green frogs usually come in a shade of green. They could be colored green, yellow-green, brown, brownish-green, or olive on their backs.

It is rare, but there could be some green frogs that show blue dorsal coloration. Their bellies are usually any shade from yellow to white.

Irregular dark spots are present on their dorsum. These frogs also have transverse bands on their legs. Their toes are well webbed. Sexes can be differentiated by the size of the external ear in relation to the eye, and the color of the throat.

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, or slightly smaller. Males have bright yellow throats, while females’ throats are white.

Green frogs enjoy living alone. They are both nocturnal and diurnal. The call of this frog is a twang, sounding like a banjo string when plucked.

Their excellent vision helps them detect both predators and prey. Another anti-predator technique of theirs is mimicry. They physically resemble foul-tasting mink frogs and so they occur together. This makes their attackers less interested in eating them.

15. Pickerel Frog

A Pickerel Frog ( Lithobates palustris ) on a rocky ground in Sullivan County, Tennessee, USA. – Source
  • Family: Ranidae 
  • Scientific Name: Lithobates palustris 
  • Other Names: Rana palustris 
  • Adult Size: 4.5 to 8.7 cm (1.8 to 3.4 in), longest SVL 11.4 cm (4.5 in)
  • Lifespan: unknown

This frog species is native to North America. Individuals like to live in cool streams with trees, swamps, springs, grassy fields, prairies, and weed-covered locations. They love to live near unpolluted water sources.

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

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

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

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

16. Southern Leopard Frog

Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus) in dry leaves and moist dirt in Frozen Head State Park, Tennessee, USA
A Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus) in dry leaves and moist dirt in Frozen Head State Park, Tennessee, USA. – Source
  • Family: Ranidae 
  • Scientific Name: Lithobates sphenocephalus 
  • Other Names: Rana sphenocephalus, Florida leopard frog 
  • Adult Size: 2 to 13 cm (0.75 to 5.12 in), average 8 cm (3.15 in)
  • Lifespan: <1 year in the wild, up to 2 or 3 years

This species of true frog is native to the eastern part of North America. They are fundamentally aquatic but are very active on land too.

They are commonly found around forests, temporary water pools, and marshes, but they disperse to moist vegetation in the summer.

Frogs of this species are slender with sharply pointed heads. From behind each eye to the hip, there is a conspicuous dorsal fold in a lighter color.

The dorsal coloration on the back and sides is usually green or brown, with distinct dark spots.

Their external ears and their eyes are about the same size. Occasionally, a white dot can be noticed in between the eyes of individuals.

Like other true frogs, their legs are long. Their toes do not possess toe pads, and so they are not adapted to climbing.

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

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

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

17. Wood Frog

Wood Frog ( Lithobates sylvatica ) on a wet concrete road in Hawkins County, Tennessee, USA
A Wood Frog ( Lithobates sylvatica ) on a wet concrete road in Hawkins County, Tennessee, 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

In Tennessee, you could also find the wood frog. It is commonly distributed across North America. It spends most of its time on the ground or around trees.

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

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. Ventrally, the frog is white.

Female wood frogs are more brightly colored dorsally than males. Males are smaller in size, with the ventral part of 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 to startle and annoy its attacker.

Species of Toads in Tennessee

18. American Toad

American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus) in clear water on a rock in Ashland City, Tennessee, USA
An American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus) in clear water on a rock in Ashland City, Tennessee, USA. – Source
  • Family: Bufonidae 
  • Scientific Name: Anaxyrus americanus
  • Other Names: Bufo americanus, hop toad, eastern American toad
  • Adult Size: 5 to 10 cm (1.97-4 cm), 7.5 cm (2.95 in) on average
  • Lifespan: 1 to 10 years in the wild, up to 36 years in captivity

The American toad is easily the most common toad in North America. It can be found in places across Canada, Mexico, and the eastern part of the United States. It inhabits rainforests, streams, ponds, and even backyards.

American toads could live almost anywhere within this region, as long as there is a body of semi-permanent water for them to breed in and thickset vegetation to cover them when they hunt prey.

These toads are characteristically stout, with 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 solid or include patterns.

They have short legs, and their wart patterns are different from those of other toads. Their backs are littered with dark spots, 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, preferring warm and humid weather. They hide under rocks, stones, twigs, and other such things in the daytime.

The advertisement call of a male is a long, high-pitched, and neat-sounding trill, a musical bu-r-r-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.

19. Eastern Spadefoot

Eastern Spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrooki ) in grass at Sandy Springs Park, Tennessee, USA
A Eastern Spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrooki ) in grass at Sandy Springs Park, Tennessee, USA. – Source
  • Family: Scaphipodidae 
  • Scientific Name: Scaphiopus holbrooki 
  • Other Names: Eastern spadefoot
  • 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

Endemic to North America, these species of toads like sandy soil, moderate temperature, and rainy regions.

They live in grasslands, farmlands, swamps, and temporary pools. They like to burrow into the ground and 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. Their bellies could be in any shade from gray to white.

They have two conspicuous lines running along their backs and tapering together at the posterior end. Their paratoid glands are small and their eyes are large for seeing at night.

Black spade-like protrusions are present on their hindlegs 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 sure 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 also produces a secretion that is foul-tasting and foul-smelling to predators.

20. Fowler’s Toad

Fowler's Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) on a dark rock in grass in Tennessee, USA
A Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) on a dark rock in grass in Tennessee, USA. – Source
  • Family: Bufonidae 
  • Scientific Name: Anaxyrus fowleri
  • Other Names: Bufo fowleri 
  • Adult Size: 5.1 to 9.5 cm (2-3.75 in)
  • Lifespan: 5 years

Fowler’s toads are found in the eastern and southeastern regions of the United States, along the Atlantic coastal plain, and in some parts of Canada. Apart from Tennessee, they can be found in states like Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Iowa.

They like to live in places with open canopy, preferring either woodland with widely spaced trees or grasslands that do not encourage the growth of very tall trees.

They also like to live on beaches. Primarily, they prefer to live in open spaces.

Fowler’s toads are usually medium-sized. The dorsum is typically colored tan, gray, brown, or greenish-gray. They have dark or black spots on their backs, with each black spot having three to six warts.

They characteristically have a white or light-colored mid-dorsal stripe. Bellies are whitish, white-yellow, or cream and have a single gray spot. Typically, the male toads are darker in color and the females lighter.

Frogs of this species are primarily nocturnal but they are also active 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.

This 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.

The toads, however, employ various methods to avoid or ward off predators.

Their dorsal color usually matches the color of the ground or vegetation and so they blend into their environments. If shaken or attacked by predators, they pretend to be dead by lying still.

These frogs can also secrete toxins from warts on their skin to irritate and even poison their predators.

21. Eastern Narrowmouth Toad

Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis) on dry mud in Rutherford County, Tennessee, USA
An Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis) on dry mud in Rutherford County, Tennessee, USA. – Source
  • Family: Microhylidae 
  • Scientific Name: Gastrophryne carolinensis 
  • Other Names: Eastern narrow-mouthed toad
  • Adult Size: 2.5 to 4 cm (1 to 1.5 in)
  • Lifespan: up to 6 years in captivity

Eastern narrow-mouthed toads are small toads found in the entire southeastern portion of North America.

They have been introduced in the Bahamas. 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 but not as smooth as its skin. The external eardrums, called tympana, 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 is an adaptation to help them burrow into the soil. Males and females can be told apart by pigmentation: males are typically darker in color than females.

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

Eastern narrow-mouthed toads are nocturnal. Their call has been described as an abrasive sound. It resembles a lamb bleating, or sounds like an electric buzzer “beeeeeeeeee”.

They avoid their hunters by their nocturnality. When threatened, they burrow into the soil. They also produce mucous secretions from their skin that irritate predators.

FAQs

What kind of frogs live in Tennessee?

The kinds of frogs that live in Tennessee are northern and southern cricket frogs, bird-voiced treefrogs, Cope’s gray treefrogs, green treefrogs, barking treefrogs, gray treefrogs, mountain chorus frogs, spring peepers, upland chorus frogs, crawfish frogs, gopher frogs, American bullfrogs, green frogs, pickerel frogs, southern leopard frogs, and wood frogs. There are seventeen (17) species in total.

What frogs can you keep in Tennessee?

Most frogs do not have poisons that irritate and harm humans. The few species of frogs in Tennessee that produce toxins and that you should not keep as pets are pickerel frogs and wood frogs.

Which frogs can you eat in Tennessee?

Frogs that are fit to be eaten in Tennessee include bullfrogs and southern leopard frogs. Only the legs of these frogs are eaten.

What kind of snake eats frogs in ponds in Tennessee?

Various species of snakes eat frogs. Snakes that are known to eat frogs in Tennessee include banded water snakes, garter snakes, pythons, southern water snakes, ribbon snakes, brown water snakes, and northern black snakes.

What do frogs eat in Tennessee?

Like frogs elsewhere, frogs in Tennessee are primarily insectivores. Their diet is largely insects and other terrestrial non-insect invertebrates. Some other frogs eat smaller frogs and insect larvae.

Conclusion

Frogs and toads are the most common herptiles in the world. They are cold-blooded or ectothermic, living a sort of “dual life”. This is because their young live in water while adults are mainly terrestrial.

In the breeding season, males gather at ponds, lakes, or other water bodies and call out for females. These females arrive and choose the most attractive — ones with deeper voices and longer calls. Fertilization is external.

In all, frogs and toads are an important part of our environment and ecosystem, as they help with pest control and serve as food for larger animals.

Some of them make good first pets for families and children. If you are looking to buy or catch one to keep as a pet, go more for a frog than a toad. Most toads have warts on their skin that produce secretions that irritate or harm humans.

Use the information above to determine from their looks and call what species they are. Be sure not to damage their habitats, as a number of species are threatened currently due to human-induced habitat loss.

As humans, we ought to be more mindful of how we keep and treat our environment. Some of our activities and urbanization processes are endangering the lives of several species.

Little changes we make, such as recycling or driving more carefully off and on the road could help preserve our environment and our littler neighbors.

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