14 Frog Species in Arizona (ID + Pics)

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Arizona landscape
Arizona is largely home to low-elevation deserts, but there are other habitats too. CGP Grey, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Arizona is situated in the southwestern United States. It has varied geography, with much of it consisting of low-elevation desert, while in other areas elevations of 4,000 ft and above can be found, with the highest being over 12,000 ft. The climate ranges from arid, to semi-arid, to humid, and during July there are often heavy thunderstorms.

Any organisms residing in Arizona need to be able to withstand the oftentimes harsh conditions. Numerous species of frog can be found within the state, and many of them have adaptations that allow them to cope with extreme heat, cold, or drought.

Arizona Frogs

1) Arizona treefrog (Hyla wrightorum)

Arizona treefrog
Arizona treefrogs have bright green bodies with brown spots on their backs and legs. desertnaturalist / CC BY 4.0
  • Native to Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico
  • Family: Hylidae
  • Order: Anura
  • Conservation status: Least concern

Also known as Wright’s mountain treefrog, the Arizona treefrog reaches lengths of 1.9 – 5.1 cm (0.7 – 2 in). The skin of this frog is smooth across the dorsal region, whereas on the underside it is granular. Its coloration is bright green, with a dark line running from the nares, down the sides, and brown spots across the back and legs, while the underside is white.

This species can be found in the mountains in central Arizona, where it resides in oak, pine, or fir forest, typically being found at elevations of 5,000 ft or above. A small population can also be found in the Huachuca Mountains in southern Arizona. Individuals feed on small invertebrates such as spiders and beetles.

During breeding season, Arizona treefrogs congregate in temporary pools, which usually have the benefit of being relatively free from predators. The males call for two or three days before mating takes place and the females spawn. The tadpoles remain in the pool for several weeks before undergoing metamorphosis.

2) Canyon treefrog (Hyla arenicolor)

Canyon treefrog on rock
Canyon treefrogs have a preference for riparian zones in rocky canyons. Sean Krieg / CC BY 4.0
  • Native to the rocky plateau areas of the southern US
  • Family: Hylidae
  • Order: Anura
  • Conservation status: Least concern

The canyon treefrog grows to around 5.6 cm (2.2 in) in length and is usually cream or brown in color, with a multitude of olive-colored spots and bars. This species is sexually dimorphic; males have dark or yellow throats, while females have white or cream-colored throats.

The range of this species spans most of Arizona, except for the west. Its preferred habitat is the riparian zone in rocky canyons, usually being found between streams and grassland or oak-pine forest – although some reports state that they are never found more than a few feet away from water. The diet of the canyon treefrog includes beetles, caterpillars, and ants.

During breeding season, the male produces ‘hollow sounding’ courtship calls. These calls vary slightly depending on the geographic location of the frog population – females prefer the sounds of males from their location over calls of other males.

3) Northern leopard frog (Lithobates pipiens)

Northern leopard frog in water
Adult northern leopard frogs usually remain near streams or ponds. Peter Waycik / CC BY 4.0
  • Native to the Nearctic region
  • Family: Ranidae
  • Order: Anura
  • Conservation status: Least concern

The northern leopard frog is medium-sized, usually reaching lengths of 5 – 9 cm (2 – 3.5 in). This species has incredibly striking coloration: a bright green background covered with dark spots. Each spot has a pale outline, and the prominent dorsolateral folds are also pale in color. The underside is white, and there are dark spots on the thighs.

In Arizona, Lithobates pipiens can be found in the Sonoran desert, where it resides along streams or near ponds. Adults typically remain near water, whereas newly metamorphosed juveniles may venture into upland forests and meadows. During the winter, individuals hibernate underwater, requiring ponds or lakes that do not freeze entirely and do not become anoxic.

Northern leopard frogs are susceptible to predation by species such as the garter snake. They display various antipredator strategies, such as crouching down and freezing, or leaping away if the predator comes within a certain distance.

4) Pacific treefrog (Pseudacris regilla)

Pacific treefrog on branch
Pacific treefrogs can change their color, switching between brown, gray, green, and black. Jack / CC BY 4.0
  • Native to the Pacific Northwest region of North America
  • Family: Hylidae
  • Order: Anura
  • Conservation status: Least concern

The Pacific treefrog is small, typically being found at lengths of 1.9 – 5.1 cm (0.75 – 2 in). Individuals usually have smooth skin, although the occasional rough frog is seen – all Pacific treefrogs also have large toe discs that aid them in climbing. This species has the remarkable ability of being able to change color; able to switch between gray, green, black, or brown. There are dark spots on the limbs, and the underside is yellow or orange in color.

In Arizona, the Pacific treefrog can be found along the Colorado River and in the Virgin Mountains. Individuals can be found both in and away from the water; streams, ponds, grassland, woodland, and farmland are all suitable locations. This frog tends to seek cover under bark or vegetation, in rodent burrows, or in gaps between rocks.

This species sings from March to October, only stopping when the temperatures become too high. Individuals are able to detect intruders and when they do so, they cease their calling. However, if the intruder remains still for a while, the frogs will resume their song.

5) Chiricahua leopard frog (Lithobates chiricahuensis)

Chiricahua leopard frog on rock
Chiricahua leopard frogs like to reside near riparian zones, ponds, and lakes. danygl / CC BY 4.0
  • Native to Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico
  • Family: Ranidae
  • Order: Anura
  • Conservation status: Vulnerable

Adult Chiricahua leopard frogs grow to lengths of 5.7 – 9.5 cm (2.2 – 3.7 in). This species has a stocky build, with wrinkled skin that is green in color with dark, leopard-like spots. The eyes of this frog are golden, and the underside is black, with yellow around the back legs.

Lithobates chiricahuensis could once be found in southeastern and central Arizona, however, populations have declined dramatically. It prefers to reside in lakes, ponds, or riparian zones, however agriculture, human disturbance, and pollution have contributed to the disturbance of these habitats. There is a recovery strategy in place, aiming to stabilize populations by reducing the threats they face and increasing awareness through education.

6) Boreal chorus frog (Pseudacris maculata)

Boreal chorus frog in water
Male boreal chorus frogs travel to shallow wetlands during breeding season to attract females. Isaac Krone / CC BY 4.0
  • Native to Canada
  • Family: Hylidae
  • Order: Anura
  • Conservation status: Least concern

The boreal chorus frog reaches 1.9 – 3.8 cm (0.75 – 1.5 in) in length and has short hind limbs. Its skin can be one of several colors: tan, olive, gray, or brown, but all individuals have three dark stripes down the back. This species can also be distinguished by the presence of a cream-colored stripe on the lip.

Pseudacris maculata can be found in northeastern Arizona, where it occupies moist forests, fields, and prairies. During breeding season, it seeks out shallow, vegetated wetlands, where the male calls to attract females and then fertilizes her eggs as she lays them. Individuals feed on beetles, flies, crickets, grasshoppers, ants, and spiders.

Although the conservation status of this species is that of least concern, populations are declining due to agriculture and development. Preservation of habitat is essential to ensure that populations are maintained.

7) Lowland leopard frog (Lithobates yavapaiensis)

Lowland leopard frog
Lowland leopard frogs can be found in areas with a reliable source of water, canopy cover, and lots of vegetation. Daniel McNair / CC BY 4.0
  • Native to Arizona
  • Family: Ranidae
  • Order: Anura
  • Conservation status: Least concern

The lowland leopard frog grows to 4.6 – 8.6 cm (1.8 – 3.4 in) in length and has a slender build, with a narrow head and long limbs. The coloration of the skin varies; it can be tan, brown, or various shades of green, and has a scattering of large, dark spots across the dorsum. These differ from the spots of other leopard frog species, as they lack a pale outline. The underside is yellowish.

This species can be found in mountain canyons in the southeast of Arizona, where it occupies areas with a reliable source of water, an abundance of vegetation, and canopy cover. Its diet consists of various invertebrates, small fish, other frogs, and even birds.

Populations of lowland leopard frogs are decreasing, and their range within the United States is shrinking. Contributing factors to this decline include the destruction of habitat, pollution, disease, and invasive species.

8) Barking frog (Craugastor augusti)

Barking frog
Barking frogs have reddish-gray or olive-gray skin and dark spots. Juan Cruzado Cortés / CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Native to the southeastern US
  • Family: Craugastoridae
  • Order: Anura
  • Conservation status: Least concern

Craugastor augusti grows to 9.5 cm (3.7 in) in length and has olive-gray or reddish-gray skin with dark spots. This species has an intratympanic fold on the back of its head and is sexually dimorphic; females are larger and display a pink tympanum, while in males the tympanum is dark in color. As the name suggests, these frogs produce a barking sound.

Comparatively little is known about the ecology of the barking frog. In Arizona, populations can be found in the Santa Rita, Pajarito, Huachuca, and Quinlan Mountains, where they reside on rocky outcrops. The diet of this species includes crickets, grasshoppers, silverfish, and scorpions, although it will consume other invertebrates as well.

Females are thought to lay their eggs in caves or gaps between rocks, and it has been suggested that they remain to guard them. The male is unlikely to stay with the eggs and has been shown to roam away from the area following mating.

9) Tarahumara frog (Lithobates tarahumarae)

Tarahumara frog
The Tarahumara frog prefers to reside in rocky streams or plunge pools. Juan Cruzado Cortés / CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Native to the Pacific Coast tropical areas
  • Family: Ranidae
  • Order: Anura
  • Conservation status: Vulnerable

The Tarahumara frog was first described in 1917. This species can grow to 11.4 cm (4.5 in) and has brown or olive-colored granulose skin, with a paler underside. There are dark spots across the dorsum, and the hind limbs have dark stripes across them.

This species can be found from south to central Arizona, where it resides at elevations between 460 – 1860 m (1509 – 6102 ft). Its preferred habitat includes rocky streams or plunge pools within tropical deciduous forests, grassland, or oak-pine woodland. Tarahumara frogs are opportunistic carnivores, feeding on an enormous variety of prey, such as beetles, scorpions, juvenile snakes and turtles, and spiders.

Populations of the Tarahumara frog are decreasing, due to factors such as pollution, habitat loss, disease, and climate change. Conservation programs have attempted to reintroduce these frogs in areas such as the Big Casa Blanca Canyon, however many populations have since succumbed to flooding and disease.

10) Lowland burrowing treefrog (Smilisca fodiens)

Lowland burrowing treefrog
As its name suggests, the lowland burrowing treefrog burrows to survive harsh desert conditions. Jorge Armín Escalante Pasos / CC BY 4.0
  • Native to Arizona and Mexico
  • Family: Hylidae
  • Order: Anura
  • Conservation status: Least concern

The lowland burrowing treefrog grows to lengths of 5.4 – 6.3 cm (2.1 – 2.5 in). Its skin varies in color from dark brown to light tan and is covered with dark brown spots, each of which has a yellow outline. Juveniles can be distinguished from adults as they are greener in color, and mature males develop dark coloration on the throat.

This species is a desert dweller – in order to survive the harsh conditions, it relies on being able to burrow. During periods of drought, it creates a cocoon from its own skin, which retains moisture and prevents the frog from drying out. Once the summer rains arrive, it ventures out of its burrow to breed and find food.

Lowland burrowing treefrogs can be found in the Tohono O’odham Nation in Arizona. Populations are reported to be stable, however they may be placed at risk due to habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation.

11) Relict leopard frog (Lithobates onca)

Relict leopard frog in water
Relict leopard frogs occupy warm streams and seeps in northwestern Arizona. Monkeystyle3000, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Native to Arizona, Nevada, and Utah
  • Family: Ranidae
  • Order: Anura
  • Conservation status: Endangered

The relict leopard frog attains a length of 4.4 – 8.7 cm (1.7 – 3.4 in) and has short legs and prominent dorsolateral folds that are usually paler than the rest of the body. The dorsal coloration is brown, gray, or has a greenish tinge, with dark spots, while the underside is white.

This species can be found in northwest Arizona, where it occupies warm streams and seeps, and tends to prefer open areas without a great abundance of vegetative cover. Excessive growth of aquatic plants has contributed to the decline of this species, as well as invasive species and adverse weather conditions caused by climate change. Despite this, populations are currently increasing.

Tadpoles of the relict leopard frog are olive green with mottling on the tail. They require optimal conditions to ensure they develop correctly – too cold and they are slow to grow and undergo metamorphosis, but if water temperatures are too high, they may not survive.

12) Plains leopard frog (Lithobates blairi)

Plains leopard frog
Decreased rainfall is one of the reasons why Plains leopard frog populations are in decline. evangrimes / CC BY 4.0
  • Native to the central US
  • Family: Ranidae
  • Order: Anura
  • Conservation status: Least concern

The Plains leopard frog grows to 5.1 – 10.9 cm (2 – 4.3 in), with females being considerably larger than males. Its skin is brown, reddish-brown, or green with dark spots across the dorsum, while the ventral region is cream. The dorsolateral folds in this species are not continuous but are typically paler in coloration.

It is thought that the population of Lithobates blairi in Arizona may have been introduced. This species inhabits ponds and marshy areas, where it consumes a diet of invertebrates such as beetles and dragonflies. In turn, the tadpoles and frogs are predated by fish, raccoons, and aquatic snakes.

Although the conservation status of the Plains leopard frog is that of least concern, populations are declining. The main factors contributing to this decline are water pollution, agriculture, predation by invasive species, and decreased rainfall.

13) Western chorus frog (Pseudacris triseriata)

Western chorus frog
Western chorus frogs can be found in pools and streams in the northern part of Arizona. Richard Poort / CC BY 4.0
  • Native to North America
  • Family: Hylidae
  • Order: Anura
  • Conservation status: Least concern

The western chorus frog is small, reaching just 4 cm (1.6 in) in length. It has smooth skin which is gray, olive, reddish, or brown in color, with three dark stripes along the dorsum. There is also a dark triangle between the eyes, and a pale stripe running along the lip.

In Arizona, Pseudacris triseriata can be found in pools and streams along the Mogollon Rim, in the north of the state. They can be found at elevations of up to 11,000 ft, and are tolerant of freezing conditions due to the presence of cryoprotectants in their blood. This species feeds on a variety of insects and is itself a prey item for some species of birds and fish.

Populations of the western chorus frog are declining due to agriculture, invasive species, and droughts. A captive breeding project has been developed in an attempt to help this species recover.

14) Ramsey Canyon leopard frog (Lithobates subaquavocalis)

Ramsey Canyon leopard frog
Ramsey Canyon leopard frogs have a diverse diet, consisting of both terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates and vertebrates. Jim Rorabaugh/USFWS, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Native to Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Mexico
  • Family: Ranidae
  • Order: Anura
  • Conservation status: Unknown (insufficient data)

The Ramsey Canyon leopard frog ranges in length from 5.1 – 12.7 cm (2 – 5 in), with females being much larger than males. It has a stockier build than most leopard frogs, and its coloration is striking: a bright green or olive dorsal region covered with dark spots, a pale underbelly, and a yellow abdomen. This species is very similar in appearance to the closely related Chiricahua leopard frog.

Lithobates subaquavocalis prefers temperate forests or grassland with access to ponds or springs. The diet of this species includes both terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates and vertebrates – there are even reports of individuals consuming hummingbirds!

The IUCN has not assigned a conservation status to the Ramsey Canyon leopard frog, however, the species does appear to be critically imperiled. Conservation strategies suggested for use in Arizona include rearing tadpoles to metamorphosis and then releasing them, monitoring populations, and restoring natural habitat.

Charlotte P
About the author

Charlotte P

I'm passionate about wildlife and ecology and hold a degree in Zoology and a masters in Clinical Animal Behaviour. I'm fascinated by the ways animals adapt to their environments and cope with challenges. I am scientifically minded and dedicate much of my time to reading and research into my subject areas.

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