Spring Into Frogs!
(modified from WildOhio Magazine)
All you need to do is follow your ears to find some of spring’s smallest, but noisiest, creatures. A loud, high-pitched “peep…peep” followed by a dainty splashing of water can mean only one thing. The spring peepers are out! Peepers, keeping true to their name, are the first frog of the year to begin advertisement calls, the familiar ribbit, croaking, or peeps that we associate with mild spring evenings. Frog calls indicate the beginning of their breeding season; males are sounding off in search of females. These calls are also a great tool for wildlife watchers. Different species of frogs and toads have sounds that are completely different from one another and therefore help us identify the critter that we are hearing. There are 15 species of frogs and toads in Ohio. With a little practice, individual species’ calls are easily distinguishable.
by Lindsay Deering
Frog-watching is a fun activity that you don’t have to lose sleep over. If you are not a morning person, wait until just after sunset to hit the trails in search of the little croakers. Frogs will call at all times of day, but early mornings or early evenings are when they are their loudest. There are a variety of areas to search because frogs can inhabit bodies of water ranging from large, non-flowing lakes to small, flooded tire ruts. Search wetland areas in woods or fields. Tadpoles, frogs’ aquatic larvae, are obvious indicators of the presence of frogs. So how exactly do you find a frog? First and foremost, be prepared to get wet! Scout some prime habitat in daylight; look for moist soil, vegetative cover, and water bodies that lack fish. When it is dark, find your location and turn off your flashlight. In a few seconds, the calling will begin. Listen for calls and splashes of alarmed little frogs and turn your flashlight on toward the sound. Spotlighting a frog often freezes it, allowing you to get a good look. If you are out with a partner or group, try a fun trick called triangulation. Position yourselves at different places around the pond. When a frog calls, each of you should shine your flashlight in the direction that you thought the call came from. The point where the beams intersect is most likely where your frog is! An excellent resource guide on Ohio’s frogs and toads is In Ohio’s Backyard: Frogs and Toads, written by Jeffrey Davis and Scott Menze. The book was funded in part by the ODNR, Division of Wildlife and is available from the Ohio Biological Survey.
View the Online Species A-Z Guide
Fifteen species of frogs and toads live in
Ohio, one of which, the Eastern spadefoot
toad, is a state endangered species.
In Ohio, frog and toad sizes range from one
to eight inches
Distinct calls are used to ensure that mates
are of the correct species
In winter, frogs can go dormant in burrows or
remain in unfrozen water
Frogs were a symbol of peace to Native
You can provide habitat at home by creating
small ponds with no fish. Give frogs time,
they will come.
See where to view wildlife in Ohio
You don’t have to travel far to find frogs and toads in the springtime. Many local parks, state parks, and wildlife areas have great breeding pools for amphibians. Ask a local naturalist or biologist for his or her viewing suggestions. When searching on your own, look for wet, flooded areas in woods, shallow lakes that have a lot of vegetation near the shoreline, and natural or man-made wetlands. Visiting a variety of sites will give you the opportunity to see and hear many different species of frogs and toads. It may take some repeat visits before your pool becomes alive with sound. Remember to listen carefully and be patient. Your reward will be finding some of Ohio’s most slimy but lovable creatures!