A gentleman called last week because he had heard a sound like someone running a finger along the teeth of a comb in his basement.
He had found and captured a small frog and wanted to bring it to us for the winter.
Frogs usually hibernate for the winter (read about that here), but this one we will keep until spring and then release it into the wild again.
The question is ---- what kind of frog is it?
Iowa has 17 species of frogs and toads, including:
- American toad
- Blanchard's cricket frog
- Boreal chorus frog
- Cope's gray treefrog
- Crawfish frog
- Eastern gray treefrog
- Fowler's toad
- Great Plains toad
- Green frog
- North American bullfrog
- Northern leopard frog
- Pickerel frog
- Plains spadefoot
- Southern leopard frog
- Spring peeper
- Woodhouse's toad
This frog appears to be a boreal chorus frog (Pseudacris maculata), which is quite different from the common northern leopard frog (Lithobates pipiens) that are seen in northwest Iowa. Here are a few ways you can tell the difference between these two species:
The boreal chorus frog is a small frog ranging from 3/4-inch to 1 1/2 inches long, whereas the northern leopard frog is typically 2-3 1/2 inches in length.
The boreal chorus frog is easily identified by its three dark stripes that extend from the head down the back. It also has a line that runs through each eye and a white line along the upper lip.
Northern leopard frogs have spots like the animal that they are named after, although there is a subspecies that has no spots, and they also have two sets of lines down their back called dorsolateral folds. The chorus frog has a smooth back.
The boreal chorus frog has a familiar call that is often described as the sound of a finger running along the teeth of a comb. The northern leopard frog has a snore-like sound with a chuck-chuck-chuck sound.
The boreal chorus frog is a tree frog, but not all tree frogs live in trees. Both the chorus frog and leopard frog live in wet areas, grasslands and forest edges. However, the last bone in the toes of tree frogs is shaped like a claw. Boreal chorus frogs have short limbs so they do not climb high and are not as acrobatic as other tree frogs.
Boreal chorus frogs have a long slender body compared to their short legs. Northern leopard frogs have very long hind legs and proportional front legs.
Can't get enough of frogs? Try this hopping frog origami craft! Click here for directions.
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Al and Wally, named for conservationist Alfred Wallace, are two Great Plains toads (Anaxyrus cognatus) that live at the Dickinson County Nature Center. Four different toads live in Iowa — Great Plains toad, American toad, Fowler’s toad and Woodhouse’s toad — and they can be difficult to tell apart. Here are a few key ways Read More »Read More
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The title “living dead” is very Halloween-appropriate. And that’s exactly what northern leopard frogs are in the wintertime. Northern leopard frogs are native to northwest Iowa and are aquatic creatures, meaning they live in the water. Like American bullfrogs, which are not native to northern Iowa, northern leopard frogs will hibernate underwater. (See a video Read More »Read More