Out of the 5000+ species of anurans currently known throughout the world, there are sixteen (16) species of toads and frogs in Utah. They are amphibians, animals that live both on land and in water, and they are tailless.
Toads and frogs are primarily insectivorous as adults, feeding on insects and other invertebrates. However, some opportunistic predators like the American bullfrog eat smaller frogs and sometimes small vertebrates.
Most are solitary except during the breeding season when they are found in groups. Males take breeding choruses to attract the attention of females. These females sense the call and move to breed sites.
Although they lack internal ears, they have external ears called tympana (singular: tympanum). These are able to sense vibrations and sounds that are crucial for the anurans’ existence, such as mating calls and movement of predators and prey.
Breeding occurs in water bodies, even if individuals do not live in water outside the breeding season. This is because eggs are fertilized externally in most species. Little to no parental investment is noticed afterward.
Frogs and toads go through a three-stage metamorphosis, from egg to larva (tadpole) and then to adulthood. They are colored in earth tones or hues matching vegetation in order to blend into their surroundings and avoid predation.
Frogs generally have more moist and smooth skin, with longer legs and more slender bodies. Toads on the other hand have dry and warty skin, with stockier bodies and shorter legs. Frogs can jump and chop quickly while toads are slower in movement.
Toads secrete poisons from their warty skin and enlarged paratoid glands to deter their predators. Some frogs are poisonous as well. These predators include larger anurans, small mammals, snakes, birds, raccoons, fish, otters, and even humans.
In this article, you will find more information on Utah’s anuran species. Adults are the focus and most are not endangered. This however does not mean that we humans should not be mindful of the way we treat our environment.
This article contains the scientific names, other common names, snout-vent length (SVL), longevity, geographical range, preferred habitats, physical characteristics, habits, mating calls, and extra anti-predator mechanisms of toads and frogs in Utah.
Table of Contents
Species of Frogs in Utah
1. Northern Leopard Frog
- 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
Frogs of this species are native to North America, and they can be found in Canada and the USA. They are found in many habitats, but they prefer to live along still or slow-moving water bodies with vegetation and open space.
Northern leopard frogs are medium-sized. Their dorsal coloration is usually green or greenish brown. There are also brown round spots arranged on their backs, sides, and legs.
A distinct mid-dorsal fold is present on their backs, usually in white color. This dorsolateral fold extends from each of their eyes down their sides. From each side of their snout to each shoulder, a white line runs across their mouths.
The bellies of these frogs are usually white or greenish white in color. Males are smaller in size than females. These males can also be identified by their 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 squawk or scream and then hop away. They employ mimicry as a way of avoiding predators.
Pickerel frogs and northern leopard frogs look similar. They secrete poisons that are harmful to and deter their attackers.
Northern leopard frogs occur with pickerel frogs, taking advantage of the resemblance to avoid predation.
2. American Bullfrog
- Family: Ranidae
- Scientific Name: Lithobates catesbeianus
- Other Names: Rana catesbeiana, bullfrog, North American bullfrog
- Adult Size: 9 to 15.2 cm (3 to 5.6 in)
- Lifespan: 7 to 9 years in the wild, up to 16 years in captivity
American bullfrogs are large true frogs native to and widespread across Canada and the United States.
They can be found in different natural and man-made habitats. They mostly live in large permanent bodies of water like swamps, ponds, marshes, lakes, rivers, and streams.
Their dorsal color is usually a dark or bright shade of green or greenish brown dorsally. Their arms and legs are covered in dark spots. Their back and sides may be solid colored, patterned, or full of dark dots.
Bullfrogs are powerful swimmers and they have long legs. Their feet are large and webbed. The head of a frog of this species is wide and flat, with its eyes golden or reddish bronze in color.
Sexes show sexual dimorphism by differences in tympanum size and throat color. Males’ tympana are much larger than their eyes and their throats are yellow in color. Tympana of females are either smaller than or the same size as their eyes, and their throats are either white or cream in color.
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, and sometimes conspecifics. As a result, several species of frogs are endangered by their predation.
They are both diurnal and nocturnal, but mostly active when the weather is moist and warm. They like warm weather and so they hibernate in the winter.
Their call is a very deep and resonant rumble, likened to a “jug-o-rum” sound.
3. Boreal Chorus Frog
- Family: Hylidae
- Scientific Name: Pseudacris maculata
- Other Names: Pseudacris triseriata maculata
- Adult Size: 3 to 3.8 cm (1.18-1.5 in)
- Lifespan: 2 to 3 years, record longevity of 6 years
This is another species of hylid (tree) frog in Utah. This frog likes to live in open spaces and in forests with open canopy, as long as there is adequate vegetation for cover and food in the form of insects present in the habitat.
Individuals can also be found in grasslands, streams in marshy areas, roadside ditches, splash pools, beaver ponds, swamps, shallow lakes, flooded fields, and other freshwater habitats without fish.
They are small and have smooth, moist skin. Dorsal color could be from a greenish gray to brown. They usually have three stripes on their backs in a darker pigment which may be broken.
From each eye to the groin, there is a dark stripe on frogs of this species. A dark triangular pattern may also be seen on the head of some boreal chorus frogs, between their eyes. A white stripe runs across their upper lip as is seen in most chorus frogs.
Beneath them, their bellies are usually white, yellowish, or cream, and there may be dark mottling on the chest and throat. They have long toes adapted for climbing with small toe pads. Their feet are webbed and their snouts are pointed.
The call of a boreal chorus frog is a loud chirp-like sound likened to the sound of drawing a finger down a comb’s teeth. It is a short sound that may be repeated 30 to 70 times per minute.
The frog is diurnal, nocturnal, and crepuscular. It shows more daytime activity in cooler months and more activity at dusk, night, and dawn in the hotter parts of the year. In the breeding season, it is active both day and night.
4. 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 Utah is the Columbia spotted frog. They occur in other places in North America, including Alaska, Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada.
They like to live in still and slow-moving freshwater bodies, including ponds, lakes, and slow-moving streams.
They are average-sized frogs. Their backs are usually tan, brown, or olive green in color. Dark and irregularly shaped spots can be noticed on their backs, legs and sides. The underbelly of a frog of this species is white, off-white, or yellow.
Along the upper lip of an individual of this species is a yellowish or white line. Its snout is narrow, its legs shorter and its feet webbed. It has rough dorsal folds on its skin.
Columbia spotted frogs are diurnal, showing most activity in the daytime. Their call is a low-pitched sound that resembles rapid knocking or clucking.
When threatened, they are able to startle their predators with an alarm call which is a 6-second shriek.
5. Canyon Tree Frog
- Family: Hylidae
- Scientific Name: Dryophytes arenicolor
- Other Names: Hyla arenicolor
- Adult Size: 3.2 to 5.7 cm (1.26 to 2.24 in)
- Lifespan: N/A
The canyon treefrog species is native to the southern part of the United States.
Its range extends southward, even down to Mexico. It is found in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Guanajuato, Guerrero, México, and Oaxaca.
Individuals like to live in rocky flatlands. They are found in both dry, arid areas and moist habitats like stream banks. Some are also found in pools at the bottom of canyons.
These small frogs are primarily terrestrial but they live in trees too. They have rough and warty dorsal skin to prevent them from drying up. This skin is brown or gray with random spots on it.
Their ventrum is cream to yellow-orange in color. When in the sun, their dorsal skin changes from a normal dark to a light gray color. Males’ throats are dark or yellow, while females’ throats are white to cream-colored.
The toes of canyon tree frogs are extensively webbed, but the webbing does not extend to the fifth toe on each of their hind legs.
They have large and sticky toe pads to aid climbing. A light spot with dark edges can also be found underneath each of their eyes.
These frogs are mostly nocturnal. Their call is a hollow, nasal, and explosive sound that is short in duration. It usually lasts 1 to 3 seconds.
6. Pacific Tree Frog
- Family: Hylidae
- Scientific Name: Pseudacris regilla
- Other Names: Pacific chorus frog, Northern Pacific tree frog
- Adult Size: 1.9 to 5 cm (0.75 to 2 in)
- Lifespan: N/A
Pacific tree frogs occur in Mexico, Canada, and the US. They can be found in the US states Alaska, Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, 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, which helps them camouflage from predators, but they cannot willingly change their dorsal coloration to match their surroundings.
7. Relict Leopard Frog
- Family: Ranidae
- Scientific Name: Lithobates onca
- Other Names: Rana onca
- Adult Size: 4.4 to 8.9 cm (1.75 to 3.5 in)
- Lifespan: 4 to 5 years
The relict leopard frog is an almost extinct species of frog with a 70% to 90% population decline in recent years. They are native to the United States and endemic to these three states: Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.
They used to occur in creeks, springs and seeps in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. Recent research finds them in small populations in springs that enter the Colorado River.
They have dorsolateral folds that extend halfway or three-quarters down the length of their backs. These folds are short and indistinct. Males can be identified by their large external ears and paired vocal sacs.
Dorsal skin is colored brown, gray, or green. It has green-brown spots that fade in color or reduce in number and size in the front of the body. They are indefinitely bordered and they extend to the upper parts of the thighs.
The legs of relict leopard frogs are shortened. They have an incomplete light-colored stripe running above their upper lip. Their underside is whitish with dark mottling around the throat.
A yellow or yellow-orange color can be noticed around their groins and underneath their hindlimbs. They are crepuscular and nocturnal frogs that show no activity in cold weather.
8. Green Frog
- Family: Ranidae
- Scientific Name: Lithobates clamitans
- Other Names: Rana clamitans, bronze frog, brown frog, cow frog
- Adult Size: 5.7 to 12.5 cm (2.3 to 4.92 in)
- Lifespan: up to 10 years in captivity
The green frog is native to the eastern part of North America.
This frog can be found in marshes, bogs, and sloughs, and along slow-moving streams and rivers. It is typically found around water but moves into meadows and wooded areas in rainy weather.
Green frogs are mostly colored green, yellow-green, brown, brownish-green, or olive on their backs. There are some rare blue ones. Their bellies are usually any shade from yellow to white.
Irregular dark spots can be noticed dorsally. These frogs also have transverse bands on their legs.
They have well-webbed toes. Sexes can be differentiated by tympanum size and throat color.
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’ 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.
They eat other chordates like small frogs and are sometimes hunted by humans as a source of frog legs. 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.
Species of Toads in Utah
9. Woodhouse’s Toad
- 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 populations in states of the US like Arizona, Louisiana, Idaho, Texas, Montana, Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, 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 is the poisonous secretions from their skin that deter predators.
10. Red-Spotted Toad
- Family: Bufonidae
- Scientific Name: Anaxyrus punctatus
- Other Names: Bufo punctatus
- Adult Size: 3.8 to 7.6 cm (1.5 to 3 in)
- Lifespan: 2 to 11.3 years
The red-spotted toad is a species of true toad found in the southwestern region of the United States and the northwestern part of Mexico.
They occur in Oklahoma, Nevada, Colorado, Kansas, Texas, Arizona, and Utah. Individuals are found in oases, river floodplains, and rocky desert streams.
The snout of a red-spotted toad is pointed. The head and body are flattened. This frog is relatively small in size, with males and females approximately the same size.
The skin on the back is dry and full of warts. It is typically olive, brownish, or light gray with red or orange warts, hence the name. The skin on the underside is white or cream and can have or lack spotting.
Cranial crests could be absent in this species but they are usually weak when present. Their round paratoid glands are about the same size as their eyes. Males have dark throats while females’ throats are pale.
They are nocturnal toads. In the daytime, they either remain underground or hide underneath surfaces. Their call is high-pitched and musical. It is a trill that lasts up to 10 seconds.
Red-spotted toads secrete poisons as a defense mechanism against predation. These poisons are produced by their paratoid glands and warts on their skin.
11. 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.
12. Arizona Toad
- Family: Bufonidae
- Scientific Name: Anaxyrus microscaphus
- Other Names: Bufo microscaphus
- Adult Size: 4.6 to 8.6 cm (1.8 to 3.4 in)
- Lifespan: 4 to 5 years
Arizona toads are endemic to a single North American country, the United States of America. They are found in such states as Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.
Their habitats of choice include permanent or intermittent shallow water, sandy or rocky substrates, deserts, reservoirs, and irrigated farmlands. They live in both natural and human-altered places.
Most toads of this species are colored gray, but individuals may be noticed in pink, beige, rust, brown or pale yellow. They lack mid-dorsal stripes and cranial crests.
Arizona toads have dry and warty skin with low warts and few tubercles. They have oval and widely separated paratoid glands.
There is a paler shade of color on their upper eyelids, their central upper back, and the front of their paratoid glands.
Their ventral color is whitish, with no spots or mottling. Both males and females have pale throats. Because of their short legs, they hop.
Arizona toads are nocturnal, remaining underground in the daytime. Their call is a trilling sound, fast and high in pitch. It rises in pitch and then ends abruptly, averaging 5.7 seconds in length.
13. Western Toad
- Family: Bufonidae
- Scientific Name: Anaxyrus boreas
- Other Names: Bufo boreas, alkali toad, boreal toad, California toad, Southern California toad
- Adult Size: 5.6 to 13 cm (2.2 to 5.1 in)
- Lifespan: 9 to 11 years
Utah 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, Oregon, 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 quite 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.
14. New Mexico Spadefoot
- Family: Scaphiopodidae
- Scientific Name: Spea multiplicata
- Other Names: Mexican spadefoot toad, New Mexico spadefoot toad
- Adult Size: 3.8 to 6.35 cm (1.5 to 2.5 in)
- Lifespan: 4 to 8 years
Toads of this species are found in the southwestern part of the US and in Mexico.
This species is the state amphibian of New Mexico, hence the name. In the US, they are found in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah.
New Mexico spadefoots live in various habitats. These include river valleys, grasslands, agricultural lands, and semi-arid shrublands.
They have dark gray or brown skin on their backs, with small spots in the same color, but a darker shade. There also are tubercles scattered on the dorsal skin, with red tips. There are no stripes running down their backs.
No protuberance (called a boss) is found between their eyes, and their eyelids are wider than the space in the middle that separates them.
Like on other spadefoot toads, a short spade in the shape of a wedge is visible on each hindleg of individuals of this species. Males are told apart by their dark vocal sacs.
New Mexico spadefoots are nocturnal, hiding in burrows or underneath surface objects in the daytime, when the rains come, and in the summer.
Their call sounds like the running of a fingernail along a comb’s stiff teeth. It is a vibrant and metallic trill lasting 0.75 to 1.5 seconds.
15. Great Plains Toad
- Family: Bufonidae
- Scientific Name: Anaxyrus cognatus
- Other Names: Bufo cognatus
- Adult Size: 4.8 to 11.4 cm (1.9 to 4.5 in)
- Lifespan: up to 10.7 years in captivity
Great Plains toads are a true toad species that can be found in damp sections of grasslands and arid areas. They live in temperate areas, deserts, savannas, temporary rain pools, reservoirs, and river floodplains.
These toads are average-sized, not too big or too small. They have small heads and well-developed cranial crests. Their snouts are blunt and rounded.
The dorsal coloration on great plains toads is usually yellowish, greenish, brown, or gray. They may have a light and narrow stripe running down their backs. Ventral coloration is cream to white without spots.
There are large dark blotches on their backs bordered in a halo-like manner, in lighter pigment. Each blotch has many warts on it. The skin is very rough because of warts on it.
They are primarily nocturnal but sometimes show activity in the daytime. Their call is a high-pitched trill like that of American toads, but it is more mechanical and compelling.
Like other toads, they produce poisons from their skin to deter and harm predators.
16. Plains Spadefoot
- 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 SVL 6.5 cm (2.56 in)
- Lifespan: up to 13 years
Plains spadefoots prefer to live in grasslands with loose soil. This is because they like to burrow into the ground, like other spadefoot toads, and need conducive areas for this.
On the head of an individual of this species, a pronounced round protuberance, also called a boss, can be noticed between the eyes. Its skin could be brown or gray with a greenish tinge.
Four vague longitudinal stripes may be noticed on its back. Its warts could be yellow or orange in color. However, the skin is moist and smoother than most toads’ skins, more like a frog’s skin.
Like on other spadefoot species, there is a single tubercle on the hindleg of a plains spadefoot. The tubercle is wedge-shaped and spade-like, an adaptation for burrowing. Their toes are webbed.
They are nocturnal and are most active during the rains. This species is largely terrestrial. It is considered vulnerable, as it is quite common but individuals are rarely seen across its geographical range.
The call of a plains spadefoot is short and sounds like a duck. It has two distinct calls; one is low-pitched and raspy like a snore, lasting for approximately one second.
The other call is short, resonant, and bleat-like, lasting for approximately half a second.
Where can I find frogs in Utah?
Frogs in Utah can be found in different habitats. Some can be found on roads at night, some underneath surface items, and yet others underground.
In the breeding season, however, most species of frogs are found around bodies of fresh water.
What frogs live in central Utah?
Frogs that live in central Utah include American bullfrogs, Northern leopard frogs, green frogs, canyon tree frogs, and relict leopard frogs.
What do small frogs eat in Utah?
Small frogs in Utah and elsewhere primarily eat insects. They also eat insect larvae, non-insect arthropods and their larvae, and invertebrates.
Young frogs, called tadpoles, are however herbivorous. They eat algae, broccoli, lettuce, and some worms that are small enough.
Utah is a state in the western part of the USA. It is home to eight (8) species of frogs and eight (8) species of toads.
Some species have been considered to be facing the threat of extinction due to habitat loss and other factors. This habitat loss is often fueled by human activities like urbanization and the use of chemicals in agriculture.
Several measures can be employed to save endangered species, and they include simple things like recycling, research and even driving carefully on the road.
Frogs and toads are very important for pest control, as they eat a lot of insects that become household pests to man, destroy crops or carry harmful parasites. In all, anurans are important to our ecosystem and a loss of them would cause some unpleasant changes in our environment.
- Frogs in Arizona
- Frogs in Colorado
- Frogs in Idaho
- Frogs in Nevada
- Frogs in New Mexico
- Frogs in Wyoming