Pennsylvania is one of the US states with a high number of frogs and just a few toad species. Both frogs and toads can share the same habitat.
Found in the ground, next to ponds, in marshes, ditches, or woodlands, frogs and toads of the state prefer at least moderate moisture in their habitat.
Breeding starts in February for some species and in March for most species. All species have distinct calls of males who lure in females. In some cases, both male and female frogs can be heard calling.
Insects such as flies and ants are among the common types of food the frogs in the state. Snakes, birds, and foxes are the predators that eat these frogs, in turn.
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Are There Poisonous Frogs and Toads in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania doesn’t have any truly poisonous frogs and toads, at least when it comes to the impact on humans.
Pickerel frogs and Fowler’s toads found here are the only species in Pennsylvania with toxic skin secretions. These secretions are the ones responsible for mild irritation and minor allergic reactions in humans.
These secretions are more harmful to some small animals.
Frogs and toads in Pennsylvania are mostly nocturnal and they live in humid areas people don’t have easy access to, such as woodlands. This also means direct contact with humans is limited for most species.
18 Frogs and Toads in Pennsylvania
All the following species of frogs and toads have stable populations, even if some can be fragmented into disjoint populations across the state.
1. American Toad
The American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus) is a species that grows to a maximum size of over 3 inches. Eastern American Toads are a common sight across Pennsylvania.
This species comes in different colors, depending on its habitat. Green or brown colors are common, with or without speckles and warts.
This type of toad has appearance variations between males and females. Apart from the colors themselves, the number of warts and the pattern of speckles can be different between them.
An overwintering species, American Toads are known for their loud mating calls. Males rely on long calls which may last more than 6 seconds to attract females.
A long triiil call is specific to these toads. The resemblance to the sound of an old ringing telephone also makes this species known as The Telephone Toad.
American Toads might have a loud call but there are different tonalities to it.
This is best seen when the species avoids inbreeding during the mating season. While siblings return to their birthplace for breeding, they can select who they mate with based on the tonality of the call.
2. Green Frog
Green Frogs (Lithobates clamitans) are named after their green coloring. Their heads are brighter green compared to their body.
The green nuances of the species vary and are highly influenced by the time of day. This species can change colors from light to bright green.
As an adaptation, this is a capacity to absorb more head from the sun during the day when Green Frogs are a darker green.
Found around ponds and lakes, Green Frogs are omnivores and eat or try to eat almost anything they can swallow such as small fish or shrimp.
Spiders and even the small frogs of other species may be eaten by these frogs.
Male Green Frogs show a territorial nature as their capacity to hole ground is one of the main traits females look for when selecting a prospective mate.
Males have 2 types of calls. Green Frogs have a mating call and a more high-paced call that alerts of potential danger.
The call of the male Green Frog has been compared to the plucking of a low-pitched banjo string.
3. American Bullfrog
American Bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus) are some of the largest frogs in Pennsylvania. This species routinely grows to a size of over 6 inches.
Green and brown colors are specific to this species with a small degree of variability based on its habitat.
There’s a high degree of territoriality exhibited by American Bullfrogs.
While a large species, a male frog may hold a large territory compared to other species. They can establish themselves on a territory of up to 70 square feet from a water source.
Most males establish smaller controlled areas of around 20-30 square feet. They don’t stop wrestling whenever a male frog enters their territory.
This species is mostly known for its very low-pitched call which resembles bull bellowing. The length of the call varies from 2 to 9 seconds.
American Bullfrogs are some of the typical species that eat small fish, eggs, and tadpoles.
They can also eat small snakes. In turn, these large frogs are also food for larger snakes, herons, or other mammals and birds.
4. Wood Frog
Wood Frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) are named after their woodlands habitat. This is one of the most fragmented species of Penssylvania, mainly through human impact on woodlands.
While its numbers are stable and high, the species is only found in woodlands. It prefers temporary bodies of water in woodlands to breed.
Woodlands also impact its coloring, which is mostly shades of brown and tan. Occasionally, this species can also have gray coloring.
This species of frog has adapted to cooler weather in the state. This includes the capacity the survive freezing temperatures.
These are temperatures that don’t affect its internal organs.
Wood Frogs return to lower areas of woodlands where water is seen in pools or where water stagnates for breeding.
Males arrive first, calling for females. The call of the species is a multi-sound call that resembles a ca-ha-ac call or a 3 part call.
Survival rates for emerged tadpoles are low. However, this is a species that undergoes the entire mating process in a short period of only a week.
5. Pickerel Frog
One of the few irritating frogs in Pennsylvania is Pickerel Frogs (Lithobates palustris). Secretions from their skin can be mildly or highly irritating to humans.
Some of the first signs of these irritations include skin rashes, watery eyes, or sneezing. These irritations are short-lived.
Identification of the species is based on its square blotches on the dorsal side which seem to be perfectly aligned. No other frog in the state has blotches or splotches that are perfectly aligned.
This is a species that appears in April, slowly moving toward breeding locations.
May marks the period these frogs are first seen mating. They have similar mating habits to most frogs and toads in the state.
Initiating the mating process is based on a call.
Males’ calls have been compared to the lowing of a cow.
Once breeding is over, these frogs dissipate and they can be seen looking for food.
Some of their preferred foods include soft spiders and various species of ants. Larvae of various flies are easy prey for these frogs as well.
6. Spring Peeper
Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) have rare cross-type markings dorsally. These may not be present in all frogs of the species.
These frogs are known to survive freezing temperatures but depend on the right temperature to start breeding more than other species.
Warm spring may signal breeding periods start sooner rather than in cool spring. Climate change has often been a cause for changes in Spring Peeper breeding schedules.
This species has chirping calls, which signal the beginning of the breeding season.
Small differences between loudness and tonalities are seen between males. Older males tend to have the loudest calls.
Apart from assessing calls, females also use other selective methods to choose a male. The size of the male is also believed to have an impact on how these frogs select mates.
A mostly nocturnal species, Spring Peepers are insectivores. They eat all types of flies, their larvae, and spiders.
At the same time, they have many predators around woodlands. Different types of predators are specific to the species depending on the size of its breeding pond.
Salamanders are among its common predators.
7. Gray Treefrog
Gray Treefrogs (Hyla versicolor) are among the common camouflaging species in Pennsylvania.
This species can go from almost white to almost black. Often seen in gray, green, and brown colors, this frog can change colors but it takes days for it to do this.
It adapts to its environment increasing camouflage and reducing predation risks.
An arboreal species, the frog can be seen in almost uniform colors as well as in a patterned multicolored appearance.
Gray Treefrogs also show small differences in mating habits.
For example, the female Gray Treefrog likes loud mating calls but it prefers calls that don’t overlap, often choosing the furthest male for mating.
A short trill, trill call is specific to the species. Females can be confused by overlapping calls of nearby males.
The calls of males are typically short. They can become longer, lasting up to a few seconds, in certain conditions.
For example, males can have the same trill call which lasts longer when touched by females.
Males may also adapt their calls in an aggressive response to having too many males nearby.
8. Fowler’s Toad
One of the species of toads with an average size of 3 inches in the state is the Fowler’s Toad species (Anaxyrus fowleri).
Most notably, this average-sized toad is known for its toxic skin. While these toxins are almost completely harmless to humans, they can be dangerous to other animals.
Certain small species might even be killed by the toxins of the species upon contact.
This is a multicolored species that are often the most colorful toad in the state.
Still, it comes in almost uniform green or gray colors as well.
Insects are among its most common types of prey. Fowler’s toads aren’t omnivores as they don’t eat all types of soft small prey in their path.
One of the reasons this species is selective is careful is its size. Birds can easily snatch it as well as snakes and other species.
The call of the species is also one of the typical frog-like waaaaah calls that last at least 1-2 seconds.
Males call multiple times per season as they breed more than once in the spring.
9. Northern Leopard Frog
Named after its spotted leopard-like appearance, Northern Leopard Frogs (Lithobates pipiens) are a highly resilient species.
They live at various altitudes and in the coldest elevations of up to 9.000 feet.
Base green or dark brown coloring with black dorsal spots is specific to this species.
Northern Leopard Frogs live next to ponds and temporary bodies of water as well as in marshes and ditches.
This is a species that favors dense vegetation habitats over no-vegetation permanent or temporary bodies of water.
A high activity level is noted in the mating period when this frog enters the water to call and mate.
This leads to almost 7.000 eggs laid by a single female.
Males are heard advertising their calls from May to June. This call is a multi-faceted call that starts with a low snore and is then followed by low-pitched grunts.
This species eats worms, beetles, and spiders, among other types of prey.
You can safely handle these frogs as they aren’t toxic. They are agile and make a quick escape when facing predators.
10. Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog
This species (Lithobates kauffeldi) is one of the multiple Leopard frogs in the state.
It has an olive color with black leopard-like dorsal spots. The Atlantic Coast Leopard frog shows a long mating season.
Small coloring differences are specific to this species.
However, these different olive nuances aren’t impacted by their habitat but by their activity levels.
Diurnal frogs are lighter while nocturnal frogs have a darker color.
This season starts in March and it may continue until early summer. The species is most notably known to mate in 3 weeks, a period that spreads from March to April.
Male frogs start the mating process by entering shallow water and calling from there.
A very short call is specific to The Atlantic Coast Leopard frog. This is a species that has a short chuck call followed by short breaks before the next call.
Clear water is preferred by this species which remains active in the areas as it mates multiple times.
11. Mountain Chorus Frog
This type of frog (Pseudacris brachyphona) has been named after its habit of living at a higher elevation.
It’s an adapted species that can live at altitudes of up to a few thousand feet.
Mountain Chorus Frogs have a distinct quality in their brown color that appears almost black. This allows them to remain undetected by many of their predators.
Breeding takes place starting in February, but it may take place later up until April.
Multiple mating times are also specific to frogs of this genus.
Males enter the water and call out to females with a short high-pitched wak call. Females lay eggs in water after mating.
The number of eggs in female Mountain Chorus Frogs is considerably lower compared to other species. Groups of 10 eggs are common for the species.
Frogs of this species are further known for moving uphill after mating.
They can be found on hills, at the bottom of hills, in ditches, or around temporary pools of water.
Mountain Chorus Frogs are insectivores and remain small into adulthood.
The average frog of the species has a reduced size between 1 and 1.5 inches with males having the chance of being larger than males.
12. Eastern Spadefoot
This dark-mottled species (Scaphiopus holbrookii) is known for its distinct habits that set it apart from most other Pennsylvania frogs and toads.
For example, Eastern Spadefoot frogs spend most of their lives underground. Exceptions only apply when coming out of their burrows for food or to mate.
Spiral-shaped burrows are specific to this species which may not leave them even when looking for food.
Ambushing preying techniques are noted for Eastern Spadefoot frogs which await insects and bugs to pass by next to the burrow entrance.
This species prefers to come out and breed in the spring when it rains.
Temporary ponds as well as other water sources without any fish are ideal breeding sights as well as places for females to lay eggs.
It’s also here that the tadpoles emerge and remain until they reach adulthood.
Cannibalism is one of the specific habits these tadpoles have over other species. Some research suggests that the Eastern Spadefoot tadpoles that are cannibalistic tend to grow larger.
The tadpole stage of the Eastern Spadefoot also marks one of the few periods of its life when it can fall prey to snakes or other predators.
Otherwise, it burrows in the shape of a spiral and hides in the ground, away from predators.
13. Northern Cricket Frog
Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans) calls can be heard in the spring. This is a species that has a clicking pebbles call which is heard in different frequencies.
Female Northern Cricket Frogs prefer low-pitched calls and can distinguish even between the most similar calls of the males.
This species is a known insectivore eating flies and bugs such as springtails.
Northern Cricket Frogs live in a diverse habitat where they can find plenty of moisture. This is also a shared habitat with fish, which eat these small frogs and their tadpoles.
These types of frogs don’t have toxic skin secretions to keep predators away. They use their agile skills to make a quick escape.
Measurements show some of the largest Northern Cricket Frogs can jump a distance of at least a few feet.
It was believed color mimicry tactics were also used to escape predators by blending in with the environment.
However, smaller Norther Cricket Frogs often take on the coloring of the larger more dominant male for better mating success.
Northern Cricket Frogs are also shown to use the sun, the moon, and the positioning of the stars for better orientation.
14. Cope’s Gray Treefrog
A body covered in small warts describes the skin texture of Cope’s Gray (Dryophytes chrysoscelis), a species seen in different colors.
Green and gray to white colors are often seen in this frog species.
Similar to other frogs, this species is different through orange or brown marks on the inner side of the hind legs.
Cope’s Gray Treefrogs can climb but are often spotted at the edges of ponds, lakes, and water accumulation.
A long triiil call is specific to this species. There’s a pause of at least 2-3 seconds between each call which may even last as long as 5 seconds.
Cope’s Gray Treefrogs are a species known for being loud in calls.
Male choruses are some of the loudest in the state. You can hear these calls from a considerable distance.
However, not all male frogs have the same loudness and this matters for females.
It has been demonstrated that females can pick up even the slightest difference in loudness, favoring only the loudest and larger males.
Moths, spiders, and other insects are among the types of prey this species can eat.
15. Upland Chorus Frog
Upland Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris feriarum) are among the small species of the state which may soon become a special status frog.
Lower numbers in other Northeastern states make the species vulnerable in the United States.
A gray, green, or brown color with a striped dorsal area is specific to this species.
A tan morph is also common. This species may come with inform coloring or with a more common striped appearance.
Upland Chorus frogs have an average size of 1 inch, which makes them one of the smaller species with a repetitive call.
A trill, trill, trill repetitive call with very short breaks is specific to the Upland Chorus frogs.
These frogs mate in the colder periods of the year when it rains. They prefer to mate in permanent waters or shallow clean water.
A terrestrial species, this frog shows an inability to climb trees or shrubs.
While many live in or near woodlands, these frogs cannot climb and only eat insects they find at ground level.
16. New Jersey Chorus Frog
One of the smaller rare species of frogs in the state is the New Jersey Chorus Frog (Pseudacris kalmi).
This species grows to a size between 0.9 and 1.4 inches.
It comes in different colors, mostly matched to its environment. Brown New Jersey Chorus Frogs are common, similar to gray variants of the species.
Vernal pools across the state are the home of the frogs.
This species shares its habitat with multiple garter snakes and with foxes, predatory species that frequently eat this frog.
A small number of eggs is laid by females which means even fewer tadpoles get to emerge as adults.
Less than 100 eggs may be laid by the female in the spring, soon after mating.
Male New Jersey Chorus Frogs call in choruses. They have a rising pitch vibrant call resembling a creek call.
17. Western Chorus Frog
Western Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris triseriata) are an adaptable species that live at low and high elevations. It can be found at an elevation of up to a few thousand feet.
One of the most common reasons why this species has different habits includes the capacity of both males and females to call.
Most species in the state only have a male call.
Both males and females are known for a long creeeeek call. This call can be short or long, but never longer than 2 seconds.
Females lay a small number of eggs soon after mating. They can lay up to a few hundred eggs.
Males and females of the species can sometimes be seen looking for food. Caterpillars and ants are among the most common types of prey in their diet.
Western Chorus Frogs can still be found around woodlands, crops, farms, and marshes.
Humans play an important role in the diminishing habitat of the species.
Only the cleanest areas are suitable for the Western Chorus frogs which can be used to determine the purity of an area or farmland already impacted by pesticides.
18. Southern Leopard Frog
The coolest waters in the state are also home to a rare species here, the Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus).
Adapted to clean water such as ponds and lakes, this is a species that has an olive color with dark spots and bright yellow stripes along the sides of the dorsum.
The species is medium to large-sized as it can grow to a maximum size of over 5 inches.
Southern Leopard Frogs are seen calling together and laying eggs together. This communal nature of the species makes for easier identification.
A female can lay up to 1.500 eggs but breeding ponds have hundreds of thousands of eggs.
The breeding season marks the period males are heard calling with a trill, trill, trill call.
Southern Leopard Frogs are colorful species seen eating all types of prey from snails to beetles.
The tendency to move upland after mating also changes the diet of the species towards insects and invertebrates.