Discover Maryland's Herps

Field Guide to Maryland's Frogs and Toads (Order Anura)

Frogs and Toads
20 species in Maryland

Photo of Upland Chorus Frog, courtesy of John WhiteFrogs and toads are amphibians that do not typically have a tail as adults. The hind legs are longer than the front legs and are modified for jumping. The body is relatively short and the head is not separated from the body by a discernable neck. The larval or tadpole stage of most frogs and toads is entirely aquatic. Tadpoles possess a tail and do not have legs until late in development, just prior to metamorphosis to the adult form. Frog and toad tadpoles with legs can be distinguished from aquatic salamander larvae by the lack of a discernable neck, the presence of distinctly longer back limbs compared to the front limbs, and the absence of external gills, as are seen in salamander larvae.

Frog and Toad Anatomy

There are five families and twenty species of anurans that can be found in Maryland.

Below is a list of the five families and the number of species in each family.

  • Spotting, striping, mottling, and the color on the dorsum, along with roughness of the skin, relative limb length, the color of the underside of the legs and venter are some of the most common characteristics used to distinguish families and species of adult anurans.
  • Most adult anurans can also be identified by the distinct sound of their mating call.
  • Tadpole identification can be difficult and often requires inspection of mouthparts under a microscope. However, identification of many tadpole species is possible using other characters including the height of the tail fin, coloration, and spotting or mottling on the dorsum (Hulse et al. 2001; White and White 2002).
  • The most easily recognizable features for identifying adults, larvae, and eggs of each species of anuran that could be encountered in Maryland are included in the descriptions that follow. Distinguishing characteristics of the true frog, tree frog, and true toad family are also included. The distinguishing characteristics of the other two families are not included because, in Maryland, there is only one species in each family.
  • A description of the sound of the call for each species is also included, because in many cases anurans can be easily heard but may be difficult to locate for capture and inspection of physical characteristics.
  • Frog and Toad Anatomy

    Click on a picture or species name for profiles
    of each of the 20 species of Maryland’s frogs and toads.

      Common Name Scientific Name State Status

    Eastern American Toad

    Eastern American Toad Anaxyrus americanus americanus  

    Fowler's Toad

    Fowler’s Toad Anaxyrus fowleri  

    Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad, photo courtesy of John White

    Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad Gastrophryne carolinensis Endangered

    Eastern Spadefoot Toad, photo courtesy of Scott A. Smith

    Eastern Spadefoot Toad Scaphiopus holbrookii  
    American Bullfrog, courtesy of John White American Bullfrog Lithobates catesbeiana  
    Carpenter Frog, courtesy of SASmith Carpenter Frog Lithobates virgatipes Watchlist
    Northern Green Frog, photo courtesy of John White Northern Green Frog Lithobates clamitans melanota  
    Northern Leopard Frog, photo courtesy of NPS Northern Leopard Frog Lithobates pipiens Introduced
    Pickerel Frog, photo courtesy of PKazyak Pickerel Frog Lithobates palustris  
    Southern Leopard Frog, photo courtesy of Scott A. Smith Southern Leopard Frog Lithobates sphenocephalus utricularius

     
    Wood Frog, Photo courtesy of John White Wood Frog Lithobates sylvaticus  
    Barking Treefrog, photo courtesy of Scott A. Smith Barking Treefrog Hyla gratiosa Endangered
    Gray Treefrog, photo courtesy of Scott A. Smith Gray Treefrog Hyla versicolor  
    Cope’s Gray Treefrog, photo cortesy of John White Cope’s Gray Treefrog Hyla chrysoscelis  
    Green Treefrog, photo courtesy of John White Green Treefrog Hyla cinerea  
    Mountain Chorus Frog, photo courtesy of DForester Mountain Chorus Frog Pseudacris brachyphona Endangered
    New Jersey Chorus Frog, photo courtesy of John White New Jersey Chorus Frog Pseudacris kalmi  
    Northern Spring Peeper, photo courtesy of Mark Tegges Northern Spring Peeper Pseudacris crucifer  
    Upland Chorus Frog, photo courtesy of John White Upland Chorus Frog Pseudacris feriarum  

    Northern Cricket Frog, photo courtesy of John White

    Eastern Cricket Frog Acris crepitans crepitans  

    A number of documents were used to compile the species descriptions. Two documents provided the most information: Amphibians and Reptiles of Pennsylvania by Arthur C. Hulse, C. J. McCoy, and Ellen Censky (2001), which includes a key to tadpoles using features other than mouthparts. Amphibians and Reptiles of Delmarva by James F. and Amy Wendt White (2002), which provides descriptions of many features of tadpoles from Delmarva that can be used to distinguish species. These books are recommended to anyone seeking more comprehensive information on Maryland anuran ecology and identification.

    In addition to physical descriptions of the anurans found in Maryland, maps depicting the distribution of each species in Maryland are also included. The distribution maps include historical distribution information that was compiled by Harris (1975).  White and White (2002) also provided a great deal of the historical and recent distributional information for frogs and toads on Maryland’s eastern shore. Additional recent distribution information was provided by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Biological Stream Survey and Natural Heritage Program, and from additional literature where appropriate.

    Acknowledgements:

    Photo of Upland Chorus Frog, courtesy of John White

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    and Reptile Atlas Project

    "A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"

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    The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.