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Ranidae family:  Green Frogs   Bullfrogs   Southern Leopard Frog  

Hylidae Family:   Northern Cricket Frogs   Southern Cricket Frogs     Upland Chorus Frogs     Squirrel Treefrogs  Gray Treefrogs   Green Treefrogs

Microhylidae family:   Eastern Narrowmouth Toad/Frog            Bufonidae family:   American Toads   Fowler's Toads

Tadpoles   Eggs

Frogs (and Toads) (order Anura, superorder Salientia, subclass Lissamphibia, class Amphibia, subphylum Vertebrata, phylum Chordata, kingdom Animalia, domain Eukaryota)                            

The common-use English words "frog" and "toad" might have come into use to distinguish two especially common families, those of Bufonidae ("true toads") and Ranidae ("true frogs").  However, professional zoologists use the term "frog" to include all of the animals shown on this page, and, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), divide them into 33 families within one order (as of 3/3/06).  The taxonomic classifications on this page are valid according to the ITIS.

According to Beltz (2005), there are three suborders of frogs: Archaeobatrachia, Mesobatrachia, and Neobatrachia, the last of which includes all the frogs (and toads) pictured on this page (but not all of those in this region). 

There are six families of frogs in North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina:  in addition to Bufonidae and Ranidae, these are the Hylidae ("true" treefrogs), Microhylidae (no inclusive common name), Petobatidae (spadefoot toads in our neck of the woods, Mesobatrachids accordingly to Beltz), Centrolenidae (glass frogs and leaf frogs).   Chorus Frogs especially are much more likely to be heard than seen, while the Microhylidae, small and well hidden in marshes, make little contribution to the frog-as-opposed-to-toad visual stereotype.  This page should give you some help with frog and toad identification.

For a glimpse into where the lives and frogs and people intersect over in Raleigh, NC, see John Dancy-Jones' Raleigh Nature blog entry.

These classifications constitute valid taxa according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System.

True Frogs (Family Ranidae)

All of the frogs in this family shown below are members of the genus Lithobates, and used to be in the Rana genus..

Green Frogs/Bronze Frogs (Lithobates clamitans)

There are two subspecies, the Northern Green Frog, Lithobates clamitans melanota, and the Bronze Frog, Lithobates clamitans clamitans,  which overlap in North Carolina (as well as in Alabama and Georgia). 

Northern Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans melanota)

Male Northern Green Frog, Durham, NC, 3/31/17 Northern Green Frog (partially submerged, in the aquatic plant exhibit), North Carolina Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 3/31/17 Northern Green Frog, Durham, 9/12/05.  I spotted this frog in a nearly dried up drainage ditch in my neighborhood.  In this picture, the back looks brown. Male Northern Green Frog, NC Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 3/30/05. Green Frog, NC Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 7/17/09 Male Northern Green Frog, NC Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 5/24/06

Bronze Frog (Lithobates clamitans clamitans)

Bronze Frog, Durham, NC, 5/26/22 Bronze Frog, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 9/13/19 Male Bronze Frog, Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, NC, 7/23/04.  It was easy to locate this frog since he was making such a racket with his K'tung! sound.  Note the green on his face.

Bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbiana)

American Bullfrog, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC, 8/29/19 Bullfrog, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC, 6/13/18 Bullfrog, Durham, NC, 8/6/05.  Seen in the same Durham creek. Bullfrog, Lake Park, Carolina Beach, New Hanover County, NC, 9/27/10

Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephala)

Southern Leopard Frog, near Albemarle Sound, Tyrrell County, NC, 9/24/04.  What a great surprise to find this rather large frog sitting under a tree right next to a seawall!

Treefrogs, Cricket Frogs and Chorus Frogs (Subfamily Hylinae, Family Hylidae)

Cricket and Chorus Frogs (Acris and Pseudacris genera) are usually found on the ground, in or near small, shallow bodies of water.   They are lively and alert, although their tendency to rely on their camouflage capabilities sometimes gives photographers a chance.

Photographing treefrogs (Hyla genus), on the other hand, is fairly easy if you locate the right habitat (especially a swamp).  They will sometimes come to you, landing on parts of your house if you live near woods.  They seem to rely mainly on camouflage, which works when they're small.  They are nocturnal and apparently very sleepy during the day.

Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans)

These frogs have chameleon-like abilities to change color to match their environment.

Northern Cricket Frog, Durham, NC, 3/21/20 Northern Cricket Frog, Durham, NC, 3/30/22   Northern Cricket Frog, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 1/18/19 Northern Cricket Frog, Penny's Bend, Durham County, NC, 5/23/06 Northern Cricket Frog, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham, NC, 11/21/10 Northern Cricket Frog, Indian Creek Trail, Chatham County, NC, 4/10/05, in the woods far from the Jordan Lake shore. Northern Cricket Frog, a Jordan Lake Gameland, Chatham County, NC, 10/29/06  


Northern Cricket Frog, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 4/5/06, on land a substantial distance from the Eno River. Northern Cricket Frog, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 4/29/06 Northern Cricket Frog, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 10/21/06.  This frog was very far from water, on the side of a very tall hill in the woods.


Northern Cricket Frog, Durham, 10/28/05.  In mini-swamp in my neighborhood. Northern Cricket Frog, Durham, 3/5/06.  In mini-swamp in my neighborhood. Northern Cricket Frog, Indian Creek Wildlife Observation Trail, a Jordan Lake Game Land, Chatham County, NC, 4/19/06.  This frog was a great distance from water or any green plants so its color surprised me.


Northern Cricket Frog, a Jordan Lake Gameland, Chatham County, NC, 10/29/06 Northern Cricket Frog, Durham, NC, 2/18/08


Northern Cricket Frog, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 4/1/06.  Northern Cricket Frog,  Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, 2/19/08 Northern Cricket Frog, White Pines Natural Area, Chatham County, NC, 9/25/05

Little Grass Frog (Pseudacris ocularis)

Little Grass Frog, Durham, NC, 6/12/15 Same Little Grass Frog          

Upland Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris feriarum feriarum)

Contrary to what these photos suggest, Upland Chorus Frogs are not specifically sexually dimorphous.  There is great variation within this species, with its members having only the dark eye-stripe and white mouth-stripe in common (Conant and Collins, 1998).

Upland Chorus Frog, American Tobacco Trail, Durham, NC, 1/12/20. Injured, rescued from paved trail.          


Mating pair, NC Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 3/3/06

Squirrel Treefrogs (Hyla squirella)

As is the case with the Upland Chorus Frogs, these nocturnal frogs show great variation in their appearance.

Squirrel Treefrog, Ocracoke, Hyde County, NC, 5/21/18 Squirrel Treefrog, Ocracoke, Hyde County, NC, 4/19/15 Squirrel Treefrog, same location as the one on left, but much smaller Squirrel Treefrog, Ocracoke, Hyde County, NC, 4/26/21 Squirrel Treefrog, Ocracoke, Hyde County, NC, 4/26/21          

Gray Treefrogs and/or Cope's Gray Treefrogs (Hyla chrysoscelus, Hyla versicolor)

These two species cannot be distinguished by sight, but are reputed to have different calls.

Gray Treefrog, Durham, NC, 9/15/07.  This treefrog still has a little green on its back, from being in transition to full adulthood.  See recent metamorphs with bright green on top below. Gray Treefrog, Durham, NC, 7/30/07.  This frog came out on our deck during a major rainstorm. Gray Treefrog, Durham, NC, 10/13/08 Gray (Copes?) Treefrog, Durham, NC, 5/22/09, resting on a wooden railing. Gray Treefrog (or Copes' Gray Treefrog), Durham, NC, 7/27/08 Gray Treefrog, Durham, NC, 9/3/05.

Gray Treefrogs (Hyla chrysoscelis or versicolor), Durham, 9/14/06        

According to the Yale Peabody Museum's (Herpetology) Online Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Connecticut, these are young adult (recent metamorphs from the tadpole stage) Gray Treefrogs that will look like the ones pictured above when they mature.  The green on top seems to provide an added measure of camouflage for these animals as they get used to being on land -- in fact, mostly above it.

Recent metamorph Copes Gray Treefrog, a little less than an inch long, Durham, NC, 8/7/13 Teneral Copes' Gray Treefrog, Durham, NC, 7/28/21 Young Copes' Gray Treefrog or Copes' Gray Treefrog: note green on top.  Durham, 7/27/08. Young Copes' Gray Treefrog, This tiny frog, also seen at Mason Farm on 8/24/05, looked to me like a rolled-up piece of dead leaf at a distance. Young Copes' Gray Treefrog, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Chapel Hill, NC, 10/03/04.  The first of its species that I photographed, very tiny and probably expecting to be overlooked.

Two Gray Treefrogs, Durham, NC, 7/13/06.  They and another of their species showed up early that morning in a power line cut.  They were each about ½ an inch long.

Green Treefrogs (Hyla cinerea)

© 2006 Mick Phillips

Although it's quite apparent that Green Treefrogs are nocturnal, the alertness they show during the day varies widely.

Green Treefrog, Durham, 9/6/04.  The heavy rains this summer (2004) drove away the butterflies, but brought out the treefrogs.  This one took refuge on top of a door frame. Green Treefrog, Durham, NC, 8/26/12 Green Treefrog, escaping from the downpour the previous night, Third Fork Creek Trail, Durham, NC, 9/28/11 Green Treefrog, Durham, 8/14/05.  This wide-eyed treefrog was on a window of my house at night.  Note the spiders. Green Treefrog, Durham, 8/15/05.  Perhaps another view of the same frog. Green Treefrog, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 8/24/05.  This was one of several lively frogs. A very pale and skinny Green Treefrog at Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Siler's Bog, 4/1/06.


Green Treefrog, Durham, 9/14/05, probably trying to sleep in the swamp in my neighborhood. Same treefrog.  Note the yellow spots, which don't show up on the other Green Treefrogs on this page.


Three views of same Green Treefrog, Durham, 10/3/05.  More languid frogs in my neighborhood swamp!


Green Treefrog, Durham, 10/26/05.  This frog appeared near a fairly large wooded area. Green Treefrog, Durham, 10/31/05.  This underfed frog showed up in dried-up drainage ditch during a drought.  It did move fairly fast, however. Looks like a brown Green Treefrog.  Durham, 10/18/06.  Seen in a power line cut near a drainage ditch.

Unknown treefrog species

This was a rather anomalous treefrog seen in my local swamp on 8/28/05.  Apparently it has part of a tail left.

Microhylid Frog/Toad (Family Microhylidae, subfamily Microhylinae)

These tiny animals mostly hide in marshes and make bleating sounds.

Durham, 9/14/05.  Depending on your source, either an Eastern Narrowmouth Frog or Eastern Narrowmouth Toad, and its Latin name is Gastrophryne carolinensis (subfamily Microhylinae).  This frog/toad was about half an inch long and had strayed from the swamp in my Durham neighborhood, where others of its species normally remain hidden. I brought it back to the swamp edge. Eastern Narrow-mouth Toad, Durham, NC, 10/15/08 Its back covered with clay, it was about 12 mm long, taking leaps much longer than its own length.

True Toads (Family Bufonidae)

American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus)

American Toad mating pair in clear water, Durham, 3/4/06.  The blue and white beads are apparently eggs. American Toads mating in muddy water, Sandy Creek Park, Durham, NC,  3/22/10 American Toad, Lake Park, Carolina Beach, NC, 9/27/10

American Toad, North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville, Buncombe County, NC, 5/1/14 Eno River SP, 5/2/03.   Superb camouflage! The three toads to the right were found in the same area. Same day and place.  Pretty good camouflage here. Occoneechee Mountain, Orange County, NC, 4/20/04.  This toad showed up in about the same place as a Brown Elfin, a hairstreak butterfly I have a photo of on another page.   Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Road access, 6/11/05.

Fowler's Toads (Anaxyrus fowleri)

Recent Metamorph Fowler's Toads

I saw hundreds of these small toads (½ inch long) and tadpoles near a bog in my neighborhood on 5/8/05 and 5/12/05.  About a tenth as many remained on 5/23/05. 

The markings of the below small toads vary enormously, and none have the same markings as the larger Fowler's Toads shown below.   Josh Rose says the ID key is the black border around the dark patches, and says that the toadlets' diets explain the variations in coloring.  

Fowler's Toad with residual tadpole tail, on Eno River bank at West Point on the Eno, Durham, NC, on 7/4/09. Durham, 6/9/05.  This toad is starting to get a stripe down its back, a mark of adulthood. Durham, 6/18/05.  This is the darkest one I've seen, found in a dark wooded area. Durham, 7/6/05.  This one showed up at a shopping center.


Durham, 5/12/05.  This toad is lighter-colored than the one at left, but otherwise appears similar. This fourth 5/12/05 toad was darker.  You have a clear view of the toad's foot in this picture, unlike with the others. These toads appeared in mid-May, 2005 near the swamp in my neighborhood.


Eno River SP, West Point, 7/7/02. This was a very tiny toad that showed up at the riverside during the Festival for the Eno.

Adult Fowler's Toads

Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 4/18/05. Seems to be the same species as those observed at ERSP. Ocracoke Island, Hyde County, NC, 5/17/05 Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Road access, 9/11/04.  No camouflage accomplished here.  This toad may be somewhat undernourished. Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Road access, Orange County, NC, 5/29/05.  Here is a close-up of a Fowler's, warts and all. Fowler's Toad, Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Road access, Orange County, NC, 6/15/06

Fowler's Toad.  All but one of the members of this species of toads seen here today had this unusual brown color.  Occoneechee Mountain Natural Area, 6/13/09.          


There isn't a lot of information on identifying tadpoles, but the  USGS Tadpole Page is a start.

Tadpole with hind legs, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 5/24/07 Tadpole, NC Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 5/24/06.  This was a relatively large tadpole (over 2 inches long). 

Tadpole  with all four legs, Durham, 5/3/05.  I would guess it was a Fowler's Toad. Tadpole, Durham, 6/27/05.  Image enhancement may have altered the color.  Both this tadpole and the one on the right were big enough to make audible splashing sounds and were over an inch long. This Macon County tadpole was already taking a look at life out of the water on 8/17/04.

Tadpole, Durham, 4/15/05.  This large tadpole was surprised by shallow water in a creek.  It did quite a bit of splashing around, eventually making its way to deeper water.  Maybe it was an American Bullfrog; ID based on the USDA Forest Service's American Bullfrog page. Tadpoles, Durham, 4/10/06.  These much smaller tadpoles had visible eyes and spines, i.e., are visibly vertebrates.  They were most likely Fowler's Toads, but possibly American Toads.

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