Frogs and Toads in Alabama

Frogs and toads are tailless, aquatic, semiaquatic, or terrestrial amphibians characteristically having a smooth moist skin, webbed feet, and long hind legs adapted for leaping.  Adults lack tails and most have a well-developed ear and a voice used to attract mates, drive off intruders and to signal distress and presence.  All are carnivorous as adults.  With their moist skin, most frogs and toads are prone to dessication (drying out), and therefore are confined to wet or moist habitats.  However, some species have adapted to more arid habitats by burrowing into the soil or hiding beneath rocks or logs to avoid the heat of the day.  Most species return to water to breed.

“True” Toads - Family Bufonidae

American Toad Bufo americanus. Fairly common in northeastern Alabama above Fall Line Hills. Breeds in temporary woodland pools January to May. Encountered most frequently late winter to early spring near deciduous forest. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Fowler’s Toad Bufo fowleri. Common statewide in a variety of habitats, including disturbed areas. Breeds March to August, often in more permanent aquatic sites than other toads. Alabama’s most commonly encountered and widely distributed toad; often seen on roads. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Oak Toad Bufo quercicus. Uncommon to fairly common south of Blackland Prairie. Found locally in Coosa River Valley of Ridge and Valley, where it has not been verified for many years. Breeds April to July in temporary pools. Inhabits areas of sandy soils, especially fire-maintained pine flatwoods, where it may be absent from some areas of seemingly suitable habitat. MODERATE CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Southern Toad Bufo terrestris. Common in southern and western portions of Alabama, occupying all of Coastal Plain and western portions of Southwestern Appalachians. Breeds March to June in small ponds and woodland pools. Exploits a variety of habitats. Often seen on roads. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Treefrogs and Allies - Family Hylidae

Northern Cricket Frog Acris crepitans crepitans. Common above Fall Line Hills and locally common in Coastal Plain. Occurs essentially statewide. Breeds March through August in a wide variety of aquatic habitats, especially margins of permanent water bodies with sparse vegetation. Low Conservation Concern.

Southern Cricket Frog Acris gryllus gryllus. Common in Coastal Plain, locally common above Fall Line Hills, absent from northeastern and extreme northern Alabama. Breeds March through August in, and near, temporary water bodies, preferring weedy shorelines, wet meadows, and similar habitats. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Pine Barrens Treefrog Hyla andersonii. Threatened. Known from fewer than 20 isolated locations in southern Escambia, Covington, and Geneva Counties as part of a disjunct population shared with the Florida Panhandle. Breeds March to August in fire-maintained shrub bogs. Habitat quality and quantity declining, especially on private lands. HIGH CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Bird-voiced Treefrog Hyla avivoca. Common in Coastal Plain to which it is apparently restricted. If valid, one unverified record from St. Clair County in Ridge and Valley ecoregion would represent a northern disjunct population. Breeds April through July in forested swamps, beaver ponds, and floodplains. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Cope’s Gray Treefrog Hyla chrysoscelis. Common statewide. Breeds April through August in temporary to semi-permanent pools. Found in a variety of habitats, most frequently in association with deciduous forest. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Green Treefrog Hyla cinerea. Common nearly statewide, but rare or absent from portions of Interior Plateau and northern portions of Southwestern Appalachians, Ridge and Valley, and Piedmont. Breeds April to August in permanent aquatic habitats with emergent vegetation. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Pine Woods Treefrog Hyla femoralis. Locally common in Coastal Plain, where most frequently encountered in Dougherty Plain and Southern Pine Plains and Hills. Disjunct populations in Ridge and Valley have not been verified in many years. Breeds April to August in temporary pools and ponds. Typically inhabits pine-dominated forests in areas of sandy soils. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Barking Treefrog Hyla gratiosa. Fairly common in Coastal Plain, scarcer in other regions, where suitable habitats often are limited and distribution more localized. Occurs essentially statewide. Breeds March through July, usually in temporary ponds or fishless semi-permanent ponds. Low Conservation Concern.

Squirrel Treefrog Hyla squirella. Common in Coastal Plain, less common and local in Ridge and Valley and extreme southern Piedmont. Breeds April to August in temporary pools and ponds, exploits a variety of habitats, and often encountered around buildings. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Mountain Chorus Frog Pseudacris brachyphona. Fairly common from Fall Line Hills northward, absent from most of Coastal Plain. Breeds December to April in shallow temporary pools in wooded areas, most often in hilly terrain. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Northern Spring Peeper Pseudacris crucifer crucifer. Common statewide. Breeds January to April in ponds, pools, and swamps in, or near, wooded areas. Rarely encountered during warmer months. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Upland Chorus Frog Pseudacris feriarum feriarum. Common nearly statewide; absent from extreme southern Alabama except along Conecuh and Chattahoochee Rivers, where its distribution barely extends into Florida. Breeds December to April in temporary pools in woods and fields. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Southern Chorus Frog Pseudacris nigrita nigrita. Locally common in Dougherty Plain and Southern Pine Plains and Hills. Also occurs in eastern portion of Southern Hilly Gulf Coastal Plain. Breeds February to May, usually in grassy temporary wetlands in, or near, areas of sandy soils. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Little Grass Frog Pseudacris ocularis. Rare and peripheral in Dougherty Plain. This tiniest of North American frogs, found from Florida to Virginia, barely reaches extreme southeastern Alabama. Known from only four localities in southeastern Houston County. Breeds late winter to late summer in shallow, grassy cypress ponds and roadside ditches. HIGH CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Ornate Chorus Frog Pseudacris ornata. Uncommon to locally common in Coastal Plain east of Cahaba and Alabama Rivers. Occurs west of Mobile Bay in southern Mississippi. Expected in Mobile and Washington Counties of Alabama. Breeds from December to March in shallow, temporary pools. Choruses indicate possible presence of other winter-breeding amphibians of conservation concern, such as gopher frogs and flatwoods salamanders. MODERATE CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Leptodactylid Frogs - Family Leptodactylidae

Greenhouse Frog Eleutherodactylus planirostris. Exotic. Apparently confined to coastal areas of Baldwin and Mobile Counties, where it prefers lawn edges, gardens, and greenhouses to “natural” habitats.

Narrow-mouthed Toads and Allies - Family Microhylidae

Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad Gastrophryne carolinensis. Common statewide. A secretive burrowing frog that breeds April to September in vegetated margins of lakes, ponds, and ditches. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Spadefoot Toads and Allies - Family Pelobatidae

Eastern Spadefoot Scaphiopus holbrookii. Locally common statewide. A secretive burrowing frog that may breed at any season following heavy rains. Capable of reproducing in pools that hold water only two to three weeks. Susceptible to destruction of breeding habitat, which may not be readily recognized as wetland. Low Conservation Concern.

“True” Frogs - Family Ranidae

Gopher Frog Rana capito. Endangered. Principally a Coastal Plain longleaf pine forest inhabitant, where 10 historic records exist. Subspecific allocation of Alabama populations is problematic; formerly considered R. c. sevosa, dusky gopher frog (see Mississippi gopher frog). Highly terrestrial, but breeds late January to March in open temporary ponds. Alabama’s five extant breeding sites are in Escambia and Covington Counties. The only Ridge and Valley breeding pond (Shelby County) was drained for a subdivision in 1997, and a Barbour County breeding pond was destroyed by road construction. HIGHEST CONSERVATION CONCERN.

American Bullfrog Rana catesbeiana. Common statewide. A large, familiar, highly aquatic frog. Breeds March to August in lakes, ponds, and many streams. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Bronze Frog/Green Frog  Rana clamitans ssp. Common statewide, this highly aquatic and familiar frog is bronze (R. c. clamitans) in southern and green (R. c. melanota) in northern Alabama. Breeds April to August. Prefers swamps, small streams, and other aquatic habitats. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Pig Frog Rana grylio. Locally common in Lower Coastal Plain and southernmost tier of counties of Dougherty Plain and Southern Pine Plains and Hills. A large, highly aquatic frog of permanent, open water bodies with emergent vegetation. Breeds April to August. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Mississippi Gopher Frog Rana sevosa. Endangered/Possibly extirpated. Recently described (2001) as western component of what had been considered R. capito sevosa (dusky gopher frog) from Mobile Bay to Louisiana. Currently known from a single population in Mississippi, but also recorded from Gulf Coast Flatwoods of Alabama (mouth of Dog River). Similar in appearance and habitat requirements to gopher frog. Secretive and difficult to survey. Listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. HIGHEST CONSERVATION CONCERN.

River Frog Rana heckscheri. Peripheral and rare in southern portion of Southern Pine Plains and Hills, and potentially in Dougherty Plain of southernmost tier of counties. Common in Florida and Georgia. Documented in Alabama from four old records. HIGHEST CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Pickerel Frog Rana palustris. Fairly common to uncommon and locally distributed in all regions above Fall Line, with disjunct populations in Lime Hills and Southern Pine Plains and Hills of Coastal Plain (Monroe and Conecuh Counties). Frequently encountered in, and near, cave entrances, but exploits other cool-water habitats. Breeds in winter and early spring. A Conecuh County population, associated with a limestone cave, has not been confirmed in over two decades. Low Conservation Concern.

Southern Leopard Frog Rana sphenocephala. Common statewide. Fairly aquatic but ranges away from water when foraging. Often seen on roads. Breeds mostly December through March in woodland pools, swamps, ponds, and other wetlands. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Wood Frog Rana sylvatica. Rare and local in distribution. Documented from twelve locations in eastern Ridge and Valley and upper Piedmont from Mount Cheaha, in Talledega County, south to Horseshoe Bend in Tallapoosa County. A highly terrestrial frog of deciduous forests. Breeds January to February in woodland pools. Thought to be declining, but status not investigated in over two decades. MODERATE CONSERVATION CONCERN.

References Cited:

Mirarchi. Ralph E., ed. 2004. Alabama Wildlife, Volume One.  A Checklist of Vertebrates and Selected Invertebrates: Aquatic Mollusks, Fishes, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals.  The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, AL. 209 pp.

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