Frogs and toads are amphibians and are some of the most diverse animals in the world. They are known for their jumping abilities, croaking sounds, slimy skin, and bulging eyes. Frogs and toads are arboreal and commonly found on trees and plants.
There’s no specific distinction between frogs and toads, according to the University of Michigan’s Museum of Zoology. However, some specific traits can define them. For instance, most frogs are aquatic while most toads live on land. Frogs also have teeth while toads don’t. Plus, frogs have slimy and smooth skin when toads have bumpy and dry skin.
The American toad, Barking tree frog, Bronze frog, and Bullfrog are some of the common breeds of frogs you’ll spot in your yard, depending on the environment. If you want your backyard to be a perfect habitat for frogs and toads, avoid using pesticides. You can also provide water, cover, and hiding places for them.
In this article, we will discuss the types of frogs that live in your yard and how to help them.
Types of Frogs That Live in Your Backyard
Frogs and toads help control the world’s insect population. They love to eat any living things that fit in their mouths, including spiders, worms, slugs, larvae, bugs, and small fish.
Frogs and toads are highly social animals that live in groups. They need to be around areas where water is available. Therefore, you might have seen them lingering in your backyard where there’s a pond or pool of water and the environment is moist.
Below are some of the frog and toad species that you can see in your yard.
- American toad
American toads are usually brown or gray, although some have a brick red, reddish olive, or tan color in extreme cases. The American toad is approximately 2-3.5 inches long (51-90 mm). Its base color is accented with yellow or tan patches with dark spots across its back.
American toads are sexually dimorphic. The males are smaller than the females. Their throats become dark during the breeding season and the American toads’ skin is densely covered with warts and dry.
American toads are inactive during the hot and dry seasons until late fall, when breeding begins. On the other hand, they are active at night and during the day and hide in the burrows, underneath the logs, forest ground, or rocks.
These toads are quite territorial to their hiding spot and sometimes return to the same location every day.
Adult American toads love to eat small insects like ants, beetles, earthworms, and moths. While a tadpole, an American toad eats aquatic organic matter, such as detritus, dead fish, algae, and even other tadpoles.
- Barking tree frog
The barking tree frog has is about 2 inches long (4.4 cm) on average. It has granular skin and is a heavier-bodied species. Barking tree frogs are often confused with Green or Squirrel tree frogs.
They have a bright green color with dark and round spots on their backs. The barking tree frog has a white line on its lips that continues down each side.
Barking tree frogs are commonly found in trees and often spotted during the breeding season, from March to August, particularly when they gather on wetlands.
Male barking tree frogs love water and often resemble a tennis ball when they float or inflate.
- Bronze frog
Bronze frogs are medium-sized frogs with a length of 3-5 inches (5 to 12.5 cm). They have a dark green color that borders on brown or yellow, with irregular black spots and a white to yellow ventral.
They have well-defined dorsolateral ridges that extend from the back of their eyes down to their back. Bronze frogs’ toes are extensively webbed and their second toe is longer than the first one.
These juvenile frogs are often found close to water. During heavy rains, they move into meadows and wooded areas. Bronze frogs bury themselves in the mud, at the bottom of either a marsh or pond, to keep them from freezing in the winter.
The bullfrog has a plain green color above or a netlike gray or brown pattern on a green background. Its venter is often whitish or grey mottling with a yellow wash, which can be apparent on the throats of an adult male bullfrog.
These frogs are the largest ones in the United States with a length of 3.5 to 8 inches (9-20 cm). In Southeastern regions, bullfrogs can have a color of a heavy pattern of dark grey, brown, or black above and thick mottling below.
Bullfrogs are highly aquatic amphibians that are active on land at night and during rainy weather. Bullfrogs tend to be spotted at the pond’s edge and lakes, where there’s booming vegetation.
Bullfrogs have an insatiable appetite. They eat anything that fits in their mouths, such as insects, frogs, salamanders, small snakes, small birds, and turtles.
Late spring and early summer is the breeding season for them. A female bullfrog can lay 15,000 to 20,000 eggs per summer. It takes one to three years for a large size tadpole to metamorphose.
- Gray tree frogs
Gray tree frogs are mottled gray or light green. They have big toe pads and granular skin. The Gray tree frog is larger than other tree frogs with a size of 1.25 to 2-inches (3.2 to 5.1 cm).
These frogs are heavier-bodied than Squirrel and Pine Woods tree frogs. Their gray color can change depending on their activity and environment.
There’s an evident light spot under their eyes, and their inner thighs are bright yellow or orange when exposed to light.
Gray tree frogs spend their days hiding in tree holes and secluded areas. They are mostly active at night in search of food, like insects and small invertebrates. Throughout the year, gray tree frogs often hang out in high trees and only emerge during the breeding season.
They often call or attract female gray tree frogs from the surrounding vegetation in wetlands. Their breeding season starts in March and ends in August, but the mating is more intense in the early summer.
- Eastern Narrowmouth toad
Narrowmouth toads are 1 to 1.5-inches long (2.5 to 4 cm) and typically gray to brown. Their colors vary and can change depending on their mood.
Narrowmouth toads are small and flattened species with a pointed snout and layers of folded skin across the back of their heads. Their stomachs are heavily mottled too.
Narrowmouth toads tend to hide in overturned boards or logs in woodlands. They have a big appetite for insects, particularly ants.
Summer is the breeding season for these toads. An adult Narrowmouth toad assembles in non-permanent water bodies, like large puddles and roadside ditches, to mate on rainy summer nights.
Males attract female Narrowmouth toads by protruding their snouts from the water, making them hard to locate. A Narrouwmouth tadpole takes 20 to 70 days to fully evolve into an adult toad.
- Eastern Spadefoot toad
The Eastern Spadefoot toad is a large, 1.6 to 3.1-inches (4-8cm) long toad. It has a moister and smothers speckled with tiny warts skin compared to other toads.
The color of the Eastern Spadefoot toad varies from tan or yellowish to dark brown. It has two apparent vertical light lines shaped like an hourglass running from the back of their eyes down to their dorsum. These lines are brighter in male Eastern Spadefoot toads.
They also have bright yellow eyes with elliptical pupils, like cats’ eyes. On each of their hind feet, there’s a drunk spade, which they used for digging.
Spadefoot toads love to burrow, spend their life underground, and can breed rapidly. During the rainy season, Spadefoot toads assemble in wetlands or pools created by the rain to breed in large numbers.
Males attract females by floating on the surface of the water, and females can lay up to 2,500 eggs at once. In 28 days, a tadpole can quickly grow an underground metamorphosis.
- Green tree frog
A Green tree frog is 1.25 to 2.25-inches long (3.20 – 5.71 cm). Like other treefrogs, it has long limbs and digits and sticky toe pads. It is green with white or yellow shimmering stripes on each side of their bodies. You can also find yellow flecks on their dorsum. A female Green tree frog is bigger than a male.
Green tree frogs spend most of their lives in trees. During warm weather, you can spot them near the porch and patio lights. Green tree frogs love to eat insects that are attracted to lights.
Green tree frogs are nocturnal species. Males attract females by resting on plants that are adjacent to the water, or sometimes float in vegetation. The breeding season for Green tree frogs extends from March to October.
Tips to Help Frogs in Your Backyard
Frogs and toads love to munch on insects and other living things that fit their mouths. If you see frogs in your yard, there might be an abundance of insects and tiny animals around, and your backyard shelters them from any predator.
Here are some tips that make a perfect sanctuary for frogs and toads.
- Reduce Your Lawn and Native Plants
Most homes have a backyard lawn that doesn’t provide habitat for wildlife like toads and frogs. If you want to welcome this common wildlife in your yard, reduce the size of your lawn and add native plants.
Frogs and toads are not herbivores. However, they enjoy a habitat filled with native plants. These plants stimulate the increase of insects in your garden, on which frogs and toads feed. For example, bronze frog species rely on insects as their primary food source.
- Don’t Use Pesticides
Avoid using and spraying pesticides in your yard, whether insecticides, herbicides, or fungicides. These toxic chemicals can cause deformities and destruct the amphibians’ home and food source. It can even kill frogs and toads upon contact with the substance.
Instead, practice organic gardening at home. If possible, don’t hire lawn care experts for they just spray pesticides around your home. You can also educate your neighbors about the harm that pesticides may cause to wildlife.
Gray tree frogs are commonly at risk when you use pesticides at home.
- Provide Cover
If you decide to welcome amphibians in your yard, make sure to provide plenty of cover or hideouts from their predators, including your pets and children. Amphibians are food for other wildlife species, so a good cover and hiding places are needed to keep them protected.
The ideal way to protect frogs and toads is to create a small brush or pile or build a “toad abode” as their hideout spot. Also, try eliminating sections of your lawn and install densely planted beds of wildflowers, ferns, shrubs, and ground covers. In a common setup, natural vegetation provides hiding places for amphibians and other wildlife.
- Add Water
Amphibians like frogs and toads lay their eggs in clean standing water with natural vegetation. A garden pond can be the ideal place for them to populate. If you don’t have one, a simple birdbath, placed correctly on ground level, can be the best water feature for moisture-loving amphibians.
- Protect Wetlands
To provide support for amphibians and other wildlife, protect local natural areas, particularly the wetlands. Natural wetlands support and nurture a diversity of amphibians, like green frogs.
Sometimes, species can be strengthened and supported by backyard habitats. However, if most of the surrounding natural areas are developed and paved over, most species will decline and avoid the area, no matter what we do in our yards.
Frogs and toads will make and call your yard their home. Therefore, make it as welcoming as possible. Also, make sure you know what kind of frog species often visits your yard.
Amphibians are the most endangered group of vertebrae wildlife on the planet. Nearly one-third of these species are at risk of extinction. Helping and providing frogs and toads with support and hiding places is the best way to think globally and act locally.