17 Types of Frogs in Iowa

Types of Frogs in Iowa
Photo by Erzsébet Vehofsics

There are many different types of frogs in Iowa, and you may already know that the Iowa state amphibian is the Bullfrog. But did you know that there are 17 other types of frogs in Iowa?

You’re probably familiar with the Green Frog and the American Bullfrog; but did you know about such creatures as the Woodhouse’s Toad, Northern Cricket Frog, 

Northern Leopard Frog, Cope’s Gray Tree Frog, Fowler’s Toad, and Spring Peeper? Read on to learn about each one of these frogs and where you can spot them. 

One type of frog is especially prevalent in Iowa, making up 90%+ of all frogs found. These types of frogs in Iowa are called frogs, also commonly leopard frogs. However, seventeen other types of frogs call Iowa home as well. 

1. American Toad

The American Toad is the most common among the types of frog in Iowa, at least during the spring. These types of frogs in Iowa are typically found near ponds or other small bodies of water. You often see them sitting on logs or rocks near the water, waiting for food to swim by. 

The American Toad is easy to identify because it is brown with a white stripe down its back. It has big brown eyes with a wart-like skin growth on each one that acts as an eyelid when they sleep, which they do quite often during the day. 

These types of frogs in Iowa are most active at night and can be very loud when they want to scare away predators. They also have white bellies and pointy noses like an old witch!

2. Great Plains Toad

The Great Plains Toad is the largest frog species native to Iowa, with adults typically reaching a length between 3.5-6 inches.

It is primarily in the state’s eastern half but can also be found as far west as Saylorville Reservoir near Des Moines.

The Great Plains Toad prefers wetland habitats near permanent bodies of water such as lakes, streams, rivers, ponds, marshes, or swamps. 

These types of frogs in Iowa do not typically live more than a few years at most; however, it reaches sexual maturity within about eight months after hatching from their egg.

During mating season (typically April-June), males congregate around aquatic breeding sites where females lay their eggs on floating vegetation or submerged logs and rocks.

3. Fowler’s Toad

Fowler’s Toads are found primarily in the southeastern part of the state. These types of frogs in Iowa are typically brown or gray with black blotches on its back. Fowler’s Toads are quite large, growing up to 10 inches long. 

This frog can be found on various surfaces near water sources, such as rocks, tree stumps, logs, and grassy areas.

One way to identify this species is by their call – they make a series of clicks when they call for mates or warn other frogs away from their territory.

4. Woodhouse’s Toad

Woodhouse’s Toad is a small, warty frog. It’s a brown or black frog with white blotches on its back. They’re found near water sources such as lakes, streams, ponds, marshes, and swamps.

Woodhouse’s Toads are mostly nocturnal animals that spend their days hiding under rocks or logs near the water.

5. Boreal Chorus Frog

The boreal chorus frog is a medium-sized, brownish frog with a white belly that lives primarily in the forested areas of the northern United States and Canada.

The boreal chorus frog sings a loud, three-note song from deep within the forests. These types of frogs in Iowa produce this sound by rubbing their back legs together. 

Males call year-round, but females only call during mating season, which lasts about two weeks at the end of summer. Females produce eggs annually, usually between 4-12 eggs per clutch. 

Eggs are laid underwater on vegetation or rocks near ponds or streams, after which the female will cover them with her body until they hatch into tadpoles five days later. Tadpoles develop into juvenile frogs after 3-5 months when they shed their tails and become frogs.

6. Gray Tree Frog

The Gray Tree Frog is a small, green frog found all over the state. They are most often found near water, especially ponds and streams.

However, they like to live near other woodland animals, such as woodpeckers, skunks, raccoons, foxes, and even deer. 

These types of frogs in Iowa are one of the more common types of frogs you will find in Iowa.

7. Blanchard Cricket Frog

The Blanchard cricket frog is a small, green frog found in the eastern half of the United States. It’s recognizable by its call, which sounds like a cricket. It prefers ponds with vegetation.

The best time to spot them is during spring, when they can be seen singing from tree branches or hopping around on dry land.

8. Cope’s Gray Treefrog

Cope’s Gray Treefrog is small, only about an inch long, with a gray-brown body that can change colors depending on how it feels. These types of frogs in Iowa have large eyes on the top of its head. 

The Cope’s Gray Treefrog is typically found near water sources such as marshes, ponds, swamps, or streams. They feed mostly on insects and spiders but will also eat other frogs or tadpoles if they can catch them!

9. Spring Peeper

The spring peeper frog is the most common species found in Iowa. These types of frogs in Iowa are easy to identify because they have a distinctive call that sounds like a high-pitched peep or squeak, hence their name. They can be found throughout much of the state but are most active during spring. 

Male frogs will sit on vegetation near water sources and wait for females to come by so they can mate with them. To learn more about these frogs, visit our blog post on how to tell if you have a frog infestation!

10. Crawfish Frog

The Crawfish Frog is a small, slender frog found throughout the eastern United States. They are typically brown or green with yellow-brown spots.

Crawfish frogs can live near water, ponds, lakes, marshes, and wetlands. These types of frogs in Iowa live in the ground under leaf litter, logs, and rocks.

Crawfish frogs will lay their eggs on vegetation overhanging water, so when they hatch,h they fall into the water below, where they spend their early life as tadpoles before growing into adult crawfish frogs. These frogs will eat insects, invertebrates, small fish, and amphibians like themselves.

11. Plains Leopard Frog

The plains leopard frog is a small, brown frog typically less than one inch long. The species’ name comes from the distinctive black spots or skin imperfections resembling a leopard’s pattern.

These types of frogs in Iowa live near permanent freshwater sources such as ponds, lakes, marshes, and streams; they prefer shallow water with shoreline vegetation. 

Plains leopard frogs are active during the day but will hibernate during cold months if they cannot find shelter in a burrow or beneath rocks or other objects on the ground. They feed primarily on aquatic invertebrates like insects and snails.

12. Northern Leopard Frog

The Northern Leopard Frog is the largest frog found in Iowa. These types of frogs in Iowa are usually brown or green, with dark spots and stripes on their backs.

The males will have a black spot under each eye, while females will have a line that extends from the nose to behind the eyes. 

These types of frogs in Iowa are nocturnal, which means they do all of their hunting at night. You can usually find them around lakes, ponds, marshes, or wetlands where there is plenty of water for them to stay wet and cool during the day.

These frogs prefer shallow water so they can easily jump out if danger approaches.

13. Southern Leopard Frog

Southern Leopard Frogs are generally found around permanent ponds or large, slow-moving streams with ample vegetation.

However, these types of frogs in Iowa can also be found near temporary ponds created by beavers. The males will call from the water’s edge during the breeding season. 

The Southern Leopard frog is a medium-sized frog with a greenish-gray skin color that turns brownish when they’re threatened.

Their most distinguishing feature is the two dark stripes running down their back. This species inhabits lowland habitats across the southeastern United States and parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri.

14. Green Frog

The green frog is a small frog typically found throughout the state. Males are usually green or brown, while females are more likely to be brown or black. Male frogs grow up to two inches long, while females grow to 3 1/2 inches long. 

These types of frogs in Iowa are mostly found near creeks, ponds, lakes, and wetland areas. They spend most of their time underwater but will come out at night and need food.

They eat mostly invertebrates, such as insects, slugs, snails, worms, and tadpoles. The green frog is not protected by law, so it can be hunted year-round without limits.

15. Pickerel Frog

The Pickerel frog is typically brown with dark spots on its back. The Pickerel frog lives in wetland habitats, such as marshes, ponds, and streams.

However, it spends most of the time underwater or on the water’s edge. These types of frogs in Iowa are commonly known for their call, which sounds like a snore. 

The Pickerel frog is not a species that can be found statewide. Still, you may find them in southeastern Iowa near rivers such as the Des Moines River, Maquoketa River, Wapsipinicon River, Skunk River, and Cedar River.

16. American Bullfrog

This is a large frog that can reach up to 10 inches long. Its color varies from greenish brown to brownish gray with pale yellow or green spots on its back. The underparts of an American Bullfrog are mottled with dark spots. 

These frogs are found throughout Iowa, particularly around ponds, streams, lakes, and rivers. However, they have also been introduced into many other areas of North America and may be common even in suburban ponds. 

There is little natural control over their numbers, so they often become pests by eating young fish and birds or competing with native amphibians for habitat space.

These types of frogs in Iowa also reproduce rapidly in warm weather; another reason they can upset local ecosystems as they take over ponds that once had populations of native species like wood frogs or spring peepers.

17. Plains Spadefoot Toad

Plains spadefoot toads live on various terrains but prefer sandy or moist areas. These types of frogs in Iowa are active at night during spring and summer months when males will call out for mates. Look for plains spadefoots near large puddles with plenty of vegetation, like grasses or shrubs. 

This species is rare in Iowa; they’ve been found primarily near Keokuk, Waterloo/Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Ames, and Indianola/Anamosa (see map below).

Conclusion

Frogs are an integral part of Iowa’s ecosystem. These types of frogs in Iowa range from small types that live under logs, rocks, and other debris to giant types that weigh over 10 pounds.

Check out some tips on how to identify different types of frogs found in Iowa, as well as tips on how you can protect these important animals for future generations. 

Here’s a quick list of types of frogs in Iowa: A bullfrog is one of several types that call Iowa home. This type is large, ranging anywhere from two to six pounds. It has smooth skin with no spots or markings except for its greenish-brown color.

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