In this world, there are over 5000 different species of frogs, and the number of discovered species only keeps increasing. These amphibians are pretty common animals throughout the world, especially in the U.S. Virginia is home to a number of them.
You can see a variety of different tree frog species in the state of Virginia. Among them are many true tree frogs, cricket frogs, chorus frogs, and many others. These frogs can have many different colors, and their natural habitats and appetites vary as well.
Are you interested in learning about all the different tree frog species living in Virginia? In this article, I will try to describe all the various tree frogs found throughout the state of Virginia.
Does Virginia have tree frogs?
There are 27 native frog and toad species in Virginia. About 15 of them are tree frogs.
According to experts, frogs are considered to be one of the groups of animals most at risk of going extinct. In addition to the ongoing threat of habitat loss to human development, they are also troubled by the chytrid fungus.
In Virginia, a number of organizations, including the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program, have been rehabilitating and creating new areas for their imperiled species.
It is more challenging to study tree frogs than it is to study the common frogs that live near bodies of water because they are more elusive and adept at camouflaging.
Types of frogs in Virginia
Tree frogs are very interesting to study, as they have adapted to all kinds of habitats. The name “Tree Frog” can be misleading. Although most of them live in trees and wooden areas, some of them are typically found near permanent or temporary water sources such as ponds, marshes, and lakes.
In 33 families, there are 5,280 species of frogs and toads worldwide. With about 80% of all amphibians currently known, they are the largest amphibian group in the world.
As mentioned before, there are 27 different frog and toad species living throughout Virginia. Amongst these are tree frogs, true toads, narrowmouth toads, spreadfoot toads, and typical frogs.
In Virginia, there are 15 species of tree frog that belong to the Hylidae family. These are the ones that we’ll be focusing on today. I’ll briefly talk about everyone down below:
Northern Cricket Frog
Scientific name : Acris crepitans
The Northern Cricket Frog is a species of small Hylid frog that is commonly found in Virginia. They are not arboreal, despite belonging to the family of tree frogs. Three distinct subspecies have been identified.
This frog measures between 1.6 and 3.5 cm in length and has a blunt, pointed head with sporadic triangular markings. It has numerous dark markings on its legs and back. There is a definite ragged dark stripe on the back of the thigh, and a bright green or brown stripe on the mid-dorsal area.
There is a white bar from its eye to its foreleg. Their bodies are small and narrow-chested, and their skin is granular and warty. These frogs have underdeveloped toe pads, and the hind toes are heavily webbed. Males exhibit more ventral spotting than females do.
Subspecies of Acris crepitans include Acris crepitans paludicola and Acris crepitans blanchardi. Smooth skin with a pinkish pattern characterizes A. c. paludicola.
Even during the breeding season, males’ throats retain their pink color. In contrast, A. c. blanchardi is wartier, bulkier, and heavier, and its coloring is uniformly light brown or gray.
Southern Cricket Frog
Scientific name : Acris gryllus
Originally from the Southeastern region of the United States, the Southern cricket frog is a diminutive Hylid frog found in the state of Virginia. It was once conspecific and shares many characteristics with the Northern Cricket Frog, including appearance and habits. The species name gryllus is Latin for cricket, while the scientific name Acris is derived from the Greek word for locust.
This frog is small, ranging in length from 1.6 to 3.2 cm, and it has anal warts and a tapered snout. Their eyes are divided by a dark triangle on their pointed heads. A light bar links the forelimb to the eye. The thigh is distinguished by a straight, dark stripe that is encircled by distinct, light stripes.
The vocal sac, chest, and throat are grayish in males. Generally speaking, males have more spots on these body parts than females.
The Southern cricket frog differs from other species in this genus by having longer hind legs and less webbing on its toes. The webbing specifically stops short of the first toe’s tip.
Cope’s Gray Tree Frog
Scientific name : Hyla chrysoscelis
The Cope’s Gray Tree Frog is a species of tree frog that you can commonly see in the United States. Its geographic range is nearly identical to that of the Gray Tree Frog. They’re so identical to gray frogs that it’s a massive headache to tell them apart. Who thought naming two remarkably similar looking frogs with similarly spelled names would be a great idea?
Both species have a range of colors from gray to gray-green that are mottled and resemble tree bark. These are woodland tree frogs, though they will occasionally venture into more open spaces in order to reach a breeding pond.
The main noticeable difference between these two frogs is their mating call. The Cope’s Gray frog has a faster and higher-pitched call than that of a Gray Tree Frog. The Cope’s one also shows more arboreal behavior, has a smaller size, and is more tolerant to dry weather.
The Cope’s Gray Tree Frog is a sizable tree frog that typically has a gray or green hue. Within the species, coloration varies depending on the activities and environment of the individual. However, all individuals have bright orange or yellow spots along their hind legs that are flecked with black.
Green Tree Frog
Scientific name : Hyla cinerea
The Green Tree Frog, also known as the American Tree Frog, is a very common species that is usually seen in backyards. This frog is the state amphibian of Georgia and Louisiana. In Virginia, they are usually found along the eastern shores.
Green tree frogs can be found in any water bodies, including pools, especially at night. They prefer habitats with plenty of floating vegetation, grass, and cattails.
This frog is nocturnal by nature.
The Green Tree Frog is very popular among pet enthusiasts due to its easy maintenance, appearance, and longevity. They do not require artificial heating, unlike many other amphibians.
Pine Woods Tree Frog
Scientific name : Hyla femoralis
The Pine Woods Tree Frog is a member of the Hylidae family that is endemic to the United States. Its natural environments include temperate forests, swamps, sporadic freshwater lakes, and sporadic freshwater marshes.
This frog prefers pine woods, savannahs, mixed pine and turkey oak woodlands, and cypress swamps. It climbs high in the trees but occasionally descends to the ground. It hides in moist crevices in trees or under rotten logs during droughts or cold weather.
This particular species of tree frog can grow anywhere between 25 and 38 mm. Color variations include brown, gray, or green. with a dark pattern typically present on the back.
This species resembles the squirrel tree frog quite a bit in terms of appearance. You can tell these two species apart by looking at their back legs, where there are usually a few white-ish dots. They have quite big toe pads but only a small amount of webbing.
You can hear these frogs’ calls that are quite similar to that of a morse code during the months of April to October. This is why this frog is also known as “Morse Code Frog”.
Typically, the pine woods tree frog feeds on insects. Breeding can occur at any time from March to October. In the evening, male frogs begin calling from areas near water.
A single female frog lays about 100 eggs in a makeshift pool, which may be just below the surface. At around two months old, the tadpoles grow fully and prepare for metamorphosis.
Squirrel Tree Frog
Scientific name : Hyla squirella
The Squirrel Tree Frog can be found in swamps, marshes, and other habitats that are near water. To hide and climb, this species prefers dense vegetation.
There are many different shades of squirrel tree frogs, including green, tan, and gray. They can alter their color to better blend in with the surroundings.
Some frogs have stripes on their legs and the skin around their eyes. The frog’s skin may be speckled or plain. Despite looking similar to other tree frog species, they can be distinguished from each other by knowing which species they are not.
Heavy rains are when the squirrel frog reproduces. Though usually nocturnal, these tiny frogs will occasionally hunt during the day if they are starving. Typically, these frogs will be drawn to porch lights that attract insects.
Barking Tree Frog
Scientific name : Hyla gratiosa
The barking tree frog is a tree frog that is 5 to 7 centimeters long, variable in color, and marked on its dorsum with distinctive dark round markings. This frog can be gray, brown, yellowish, bright or dull green, or brown. The male has a large vocal sac and prominent round toe pads. This is one of the biggest subspecies of frogs found in the United States.
This frog prefers to breed in wooded areas close to bodies of fishless water. They breed from March to the end of August. Males will “donk” and are visible floating on the water’s surface in order to attract a mate.
Flies, spiders, and beetles are common prey items for these hunting frogs. This species, like the majority of tree frogs prefers to stay on trees which helps it fend off predators.
Gray Tree Frog
Scientific name : Hyla versicolor
The Gray Tree Frog is a species of small arboreal frog native to much of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada. This is the most widespread frog species found in the piedmont and mountains.
The most striking feature of this frog is its ability to change color and camouflage themselves. This process takes approximately half an hour.
These frogs typically have warty skin, and their fingers and toes have noticeable adhesive pads. They can be green, light green-gray, gray, brown, or dark brown in color. Typically, the back will have a sizable irregular star or spot.
Although it is less noticeable and more olive in color in females, a sizable white spot is always present below each eye. The abdomen is white.
Males’ vocal sacs are a light shade of flesh. Their chins have blackish spots similar to those on their bellies. When viewed from the ventral side, males have yellow or orange-yellow legs, while females have pale olive-gray forelegs, hindlegs, and sides.
Gray Tree Frogs are nocturnal and hide during the day in secluded areas. They hunt for insects and other small invertebrates at night. Most of the time, these nocturnal frogs are found high in the trees.
The Cope’s Gray Treefrog’s sibling species is the Gray Tree Frog. By looking at their external morphology, these two species cannot be distinguished. The calls, blood cell size, and chromosomal complement can all be distinguished. These two species can hybridize because they coexist in many areas in which they are sympatric.
Mountain Chorus Frog
Scientific name : Pseudacris brachyphona
The Mountain Chorus frog is a threatened species found in Virginia. This frog is currently endangered due to habitat loss.Some natural habitats of this frog are swamps, ponds, canals, springs and marshes.
The Mountain Chorus Frogs are small and have a green to olive hue. There are noticeable tarsal pads on this frog, as well as long legs and a stocky build. Adults have a body length of 35 mm. They have this distinct yellow pattern on their legs that make them easily distinguishable.
Their backs have a peculiar pattern that resembles a reverse parenthesis, and here I thought I’d finished school and left those traumatic symbols behind. Behind their eyes, you’ll also find a dark pattern that looks like a triangle.
These frogs hide during the hotter season beneath natural debris.
Mountain chorus frogs are insectivores and spend the majority of their time in trees. They use their clingy tongues for hunting.
Brimley’s Chorus Frog
Scientific name : Pseudacris brimleyi
The Brimley’s Chorus Frog inhabits wetlands, scrubby areas, and forests. This frog breeds in the springtime. They nest in wetlands that have a lot of vegetation. This species is also threatened by habitat loss.
Males and females of this long-legged, slender-bodied species reach adult body lengths of 30 mm and 35 mm, respectively. The back leg’s heel extends forward to eye level while the tarsal pads have hardly expanded. Usually, the coloration is pentalineate.
In addition to dark paramedian and middorsal lines, there is also a darker dorsolateral pikeous line that runs from the eye to the groin on the dorsal surface of the animal.
There is a pale line that separates the top lip and tympanum. The dorsal surface of the legs is covered in dark spots. You’ll notice that the white ventral tissue has a yellowish cast.
These frogs bury themselves underground and enter brumation in the winter. Due to their secrecy and restricted range, this species is uncommon in Virginia.
Scientific name : Pseudacris crucifer
The Spring Peeper is a species of chorus frog and almost the earliest to reappear after the winter. Typically, their mating call signals the arrival of spring.
These frogs reside in a variety of woodlands and forests near perennial bodies of water. Their primary activity is on land and they only take to the water to breed.
This is a tiny species of frog, ranging from 0.75 of an inch to 1.25 inches in total length. On the frog’s back, there is typically an identifying “X” mark. Although the spring peeper’s surface doesn’t have any obvious color patterns, its actual color can be yellow, brown, gray, or olive.
The lack of distinct stripes, mottling, spotting, and the distinctive “X” mark help to distinguish this species from other members of the genus.
Insects are the only food source for the spring peeper, which is nocturnal. Some of the foods they consume include various bugs like beetles. They also like to feed on ants.
This species is preyed upon by raptors, salamanders, snakes, and other birds.
New Jersey Chorus Frog
Scientific name : Pseudacris kalmi
The New Jersey Chorus Frog is an endangered species usually found in New Jersey, although some can still be seen in Virginia. It can be found in densely vegetated woodlands, marshes, or meadows. Both temporary and permanent bodies of water may be home to this frog during the mating season.
This is a small species, with adults growing from 1.9 to 3.8 cm in length. They have a pointed and narrow head. Their dorsal skin is slightly rough and their ventral skin is coarse and granular. These frogs have short forelegs and long hind legs with webbed toes.
The dorsal background color can range from gray to tan or greenish brown. On either side of the body, there is a dark stripe that runs from the snout through the eyes and to the groin. The black stripe on the head is followed by a white stripe.
Additionally, the dorsal has three dark stripes (two dorsolateral and one middorsal). These stripes may be complete or broken.
There is a shadowy area between the eyes on the head. There are dark bars or spots on the dorsal surface of the legs. The ventral is cream to white and may have black flecks.
Upland Chorus Frog
Scientific name : Pseudacris feriarum
Up until now, the Upland Chorus Frog was considered a subspecies of the the Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata). Scientists have recently declared this frog as a separate species, and they are not a subspecies anymore.
A good place to look for the upland chorus frog is in wetlands and swamps. If lucky you could also find them on grass, but I doubt that. Spring through fall is when they are active and breed in still or slowly moving bodies of water.
While similar to other chorus frogs’ mating calls, theirs is longer and shaken-sounding. Males have a large, dark-colored vocal sack.
Southern Chorus Frog
Scientific name : Pseudacris nigrita
Southern chorus frogs can be found in wetlands. Mating occurs in the spring after eggs are laid on debris in the water.
This frog species spends likes to be near water close to heavily forested areas. Additionally, they bury tunnels underground as well in search of sandy soil.
Despite inhabiting different ranges, the Southern Chorus Frog and the Upland Chorus Frog look very similar.
These frogs are brown, gray, or green in color, with paler bellies. They have white spots above their lips and pointy snouts.
Bugs are the primary food sources for southern chorus frogs. Researching this species is difficult because it is elusive.
Little Grass Frog
Scientific name : Pseudacris ocularis
The little grass frog can usually be seen on wet areas by the coast. From the end of winter until September, they are active and make year-round calls. These frogs primarily live in densely forested areas.
Little grass frogs have pointed heads and slender bodies that can be red or sometimes pink, as well as the usual green. Its body has a series of dark stripes that are visible along with other patterns.
As they are so small, you can easily fit them on the tip of your finger. You can easily recognize them due to their size.
These little frogs have strong legs that enable them to jump super high to escape predators. These tiny amphibians eat tiny soil-found insects as part of their diet. They are easy prey for the majority of large animals.
Where Do Green Tree Frogs Live In Virginia The Most?
The Eastern Shore of Virginia is part of the Coastal Plain, which is home to the attractive-looking Green Tree Frog. This species primarily occurs in the Coastal Plain, with scattered records in Piedmont. These frogs call in large choruses of hundreds to thousands of individuals after warm summer rains.
Virginia is home to this species, and it is not threatened like some other subspecies.
Poisonous frogs in Virginia
Some species of frogs may be poisonous, while others may not. The color of a frog can be used to gauge its danger level. Some colorful amphibians, like poison dart frogs, are lethal to people. However, tree frogs can only cause minor skin rashes, and salmonella is the absolute worst-case scenario.
The pickerel frog is fortunately the only poisonous species in Virginia. This frog’s venom helps deter snakes and other predators, but it can also cause minor skin irritation in people, especially if they handle it frequently.
However, as long as you avoid getting toxins in your eyes or other sensitive areas of your body, there is no danger from these frogs.
Virginia houses a good collection of small frogs and large frogs. There is also a good variety of chorus frogs, tree frogs, and toads.
The majority of frogs serve as both pest population control and food for the state’s many predators. It is possible to observe all the frog species in Virginia in a healthy environment, and we will be able to observe them in a healthy environment. So, who knows you might encounter all of them one day!