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.

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

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PhotoCommon NameScientific NameState Status
Photo of adult Eastern America Toad, courtesy of Scott A. Smith

Photo of adult Eastern America Toad, courtesy of Scott A. Smith

Eastern American Toad​

Anaxyrus americanus americanus

Adult Fowler's Toad, photo courtesy of Scott A. Smith

​Fowler’s Toad

Fowler’s Toad
Anaxyrus  fowleri

Eastern Narrow Mouth Toad

​Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad

Gastrophryne carolinensis

Eastern Spade Foot frog

​Eastern Spadefoot Toad

Scaphiopus holbrookii

Adult American Bullfrog, photo courtesy of John White
Adult American Bullfrog, photo courtesy of John White

​American Bullfrog

Lithobates catesbeiana
Adult Carpenter Frog, photo courtesy of Corey Wickliffe
Adult Carpenter Frog, photo courtesy of Corey Wickliffe
Carpenter Frog
Lithobates virgatipes

State listed as Watchlist, indicating rare to uncommon.If you find any please contact DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service.

Adult Northern Green Frog, photo courtesy of John White
Photo of Adult Northern Green Frog courtesy of John White

Northern Green Frog​​

Lithobates clamitans melanota
Northern Leopard Frog, photo courtesy of Stephanie Desranleau
Photo of Northern Leopard Frog courtesy of Stephanie Desranleau

Northern Leopard Frog​​

Lithobates pipiens
Adult Pickerel Frog, photo courtesy of Scott A. Smith
Adult Pickerel Frog, photo courtesy of Scott A. Smith

 

​Pickerel Frog

Lithobates palustris

Southern Leopard Frog, photo courtesy of Paul Kazyak
Southern Leopard Frog, photo courtesy of Paul Kazyak

Southern Leopard Frog
Lithobates sphenocephalus utricularius

Adult Wood Frog, photo courtesy of John White
Adult Wood Frog, photo courtesy of John White

​Wood Frog

Lithobates sylvaticus

Adult Barking Treefrog, photo courtesy of Scott A. Smith
Adult Barking Treefrog, photo courtesy of Scott A. Smith

Calling Barking Treefrog, photo courtesy of Scott A. Smith
Calling Barking Treefrog, photo courtesy of Scott A. Smith

Barking Treefrog
Hyla gratiosa

This is a state endangered species, which was first discovered in Maryland in 1982.  Currently known only from Caroline, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties.  If you find any please contact DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service.

Adult Gray Treefrog, photo courtesy of John White
Adult Gray Treefrog, photo courtesy of John White

Gray Tree Frog​

Hyla versicolor

Adult Gray Treefrog, photo courtesy of John White
Adult Gray Treefrog, photo courtesy of John White

Adult Cope's Gray Treefrog, photo courtesy of Corey Wickliffe
Adult Cope's Gray Treefrog, photo courtesy of Corey Wickliffe

Cope's Gray Treefrog​

Hyla chrysoscelis

Adult Green Treefrog, photo courtesy of John White
Adult Green Treefrog, photo courtesy of John White

Green Treefrog​

Hyla cinerea
Adult Mountain Chorus Frog, photo courtesy of Don Forester
Mountain Chorus Frog
Pseudacris brachyphona

State listed as Endangered.If you find any, please contact DNR's Wildlife and Heritage Service.


Adult New Jersey Chorus Frog, photo courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers
Adult New Jersey Chorus Frog, photo courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers

Adult New Jersey Chorus Frog, photo courtesy of John White
Adult New Jersey Chorus Frog, photo courtesy of John White

New Jersey Chorus Frog
Pseudacris kalmi
Adult Northern Spring Peeper, photo courtesy of Scott A. Smith
Adult Northern Spring Peeper, photo courtesy of Scott A. Smith
Northern Spring Peeper
Pseudacris crucifer
 Photo of Upland Chorus Frog courtesy of John White
 Photo of Upland Chorus Frog courtesy of John White
 Photo of Upland Chorus Frog courtesy of John White
Photo of Upland Chorus Frog courtesy of John White
Upland Chorus Frog
Pseudacris feriarum
Adult Eastern Cricket Frog, photo courtesy of John White
Eastern Cricket Frog
Acris crepitans crepitans
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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