I loved looking for aquatic frogs in ponds as a kid. Frogs that live in water tend to be fairly passive and spend most of their day staying hydrated and breathing in water. Generally, they will let you look at them up close as long as you do not try to touch them.
Aquatic Frogs primarily live in water, contrary to arboreal frogs that mainly live in trees, or terrestrial frogs that live on land. Aquatic frogs can generally be found living in or near bodies of fresh, slow-moving water such as lakes, ponds, streams, bogs, fens, and marshes.
Let’s have a look at some aquatic frogs you can find around the world:
|Aquatic Frog||Fully Aquatic||Location|
|American Bullfrog||No||Eastern North America|
|Green Frog||No||Eastern North America|
|Pickerel Frog||No||Eastern North America|
|Northern Leopard Frog||No||Eastern North America|
|Blanchard’s Cricket Frog||No||Eastern North America|
|Green Mink Frog||No||Eastern North America|
|Carpenter Frog||No||Eastern North America|
|Bronze Frog||No||Eastern North America|
|Columbia Spotted Frog||No||Western North America|
|Gopher Frog||No||Southern North America|
|Pacman Frog||No||South America|
|Florida Bog Frog||No||Florida|
|Common Green Frog||No||Europe|
|African Dwarf Frog||Yes||Africa|
|African Clawed Frog||Yes||Africa|
|Western Clawed Frog||Yes||Africa|
|Western Dwarf Clawed Frog||Yes||Africa|
All aquatic frogs generally live in bodies of water, have long powerful legs, and webbed feet to propel them when swimming. Aquatic frogs generally spend most of the day sitting in water to stay hydrated and oxygenated.
You can learn more about the differences between three types of frogs in the video below, as well in the article about types of frogs on our blog.
1. American Bullfrog
American Bullfrogs are generally large and can be found throughout most of North America. They have large tympanum, are brown and olive green with a yellow belly and spots on their hind legs.
Bullfrogs are very common in the southern states in the US where their legs are often consumed as delicacies. They are a more sustainable source of frog legs since a single female bullfrog can lay as many as 20,000 eggs.
2. Pickerel Frog
Pickerel Frogs are somewhat rare since they are uncommon and are under conservation in some areas. They also migrate quite a lot during the year. Pickerel frogs generally move from cold streams in the Winter to warmer waters in the Summer.
Pickerel Frogs can be identified by the square-shaped dark spots running down its back and its bright underside. They can grow to be about 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) and are generally green or brown with patterns on their legs. They are sometimes confused with Leopard Frogs since they look somewhat similar.
Pickerel Frogs are one of the only poisonous frogs in North America but their toxins have mild side effects on humans and pets compared to other frogs. Their poison has a foul smell that generally irritates predators like skunks and racoons.
3. Leopard Frog
Northern Leopard Frogs grow to about 3 to 5 inches (7 – 12 cm) and are covered with leopard-like spots across their backs and legs. The Northern Leopard Frog can be found from Ontario Canada to Florida.
Northern Leopard frogs are commonly used for anatomical dissections and are unfortunately becoming more and more rare due to over-harvesting. Leopard Frog leg meat is also consumed in some places but should be avoided because of declining populations due to human activity.
4. Common Green Frog
Common Green Frogs probably look exactly how you would picture a frog in your head. They are generally found in Europe and have olive, green or brown skin and generally measure 2 to 5 inches (5 to 11 cm)
Common Frogs generally mate in later months of the year and so their tadpoles often live through the first frosts before they finish their development and so these frogs generally mate in permanent bodies of water like marshes or ponds.
Although they do not provide as much meat as American Bullfrogs, they are still large enough to consume and are often referred to as Edible Frogs. They are not endangered in Europe and generally constitute a good source of frog leg meat for those located in the EU.
5. Blanchard’s Cricket Frog
Blanchard’s Cricket Frogs are tiny, semi-aquatic frogs that surprisingly have warts. They are actually considered tree-frogs by some respects but we added them to this list since they mainly live in water.
Blanchard’s Cricket Frogs are generally brown or grey, have a V shape on their backs and a pointed snout. They prefer marshes, ponds, or other areas of standing water. They breed during most of the warm months from late Spring to the end of Summer.
Blanchard’s Cricket Frogs are endangered in parts of the United states due to abundant predators, harsh weather conditions, habitat degradation and human activity. These frogs only live for about one year making them even more susceptible to disappearing.
6. Green Mink Frog
The Mink Frog is only found in the states around the Great Lakes in the United States and in Canada. Mink Frogs are generally 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7cm). Mink Frogs are generally green with black spots on their back with a white belly and yellow throats.
However, the most distinguishing feature of the Mink Frog is its body odor. Adult Mink Frogs can release a musky smell via their skin that resembles rotting onions. This smell is typically produced only when the frog is handled, feels stressed or in danger. This is one of the frog’s many defense mechanisms.
Because this species can physically resemble other frogs such as a Bullfrog or a Green Frog, be prepared before catching or handling this frog, otherwise you may be in for a stinky surprise.
7. Florida Bog Frog
The Florida Bog Frog is very rare and can only be found in two counties in Florida: Santa Rosa and Okaloosa. At 1.5 to 1.75 inches (3 to 4 cm), this small frog lives in bogs that are generally green, brown or black.
The Florida Bog Frog is a vulnerable species due to human activity that could certainly be avoided. 90% of the bog where the frogs live is used as a military base and the USA considers “US national security has priority over wildlife.” However, bogs are fragile ecosystems that need to be protected.
8. Bronze Frog
Bronze Frogs are only about 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) in size and are very active at night. They are generally brown (bronze) colored with a white underbelly. Bronze frogs can lay up to 4,000 eggs on the surface of the water.
If you are out looking for this frog, search the shoreline of bodies of water near shallow streams, ponds, marshes, and bayous. It is said that the Bronze Frogs mating call sounds like plucking loose banjo strings (CTNF).
9. Gopher Frog
Gopher Frogs are generally 2.5 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm), are brown with dark spots on the sides of their back and have a round snout. Surprisingly for a frog, they have somewhat warty skin (although their warts are not like those of toads).
Gopher Frogs can breed all year long and lay eggs in batches of up to 7,000 at a time. They are classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List due primarily to habitat loss related to fires and threats of diseases.
10. Carpenter Frog
Carpenter Frogs are generally 1.5 to 2.5 inches (4 to 6 cm) and can be found on the borders of the Eastern American coast. They are generally brown or bronze with spots and two yellow stripes running down the sides of their back.
Carpenter Frogs are generally rare in some parts of the US Atalantic coast, like in Florida, and only lay up to 600 eggs. However, they are classified as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List.
11. Columbia Spotted Frog
Columbia Spotted Frog can be found in Western North America and can be up to 3.5 inches (9 cm). Their color is generally brown or olive with spots on its back and legs. They spend most of their time in water surrounded by vegetation to hide from predators, remain hydrated and oxygenated.
Interestingly, this frog reproduces at different times of the year depending on elevation. For example, they reproduce earlier in the year in British Columbia, Canada, and at later times in the year further down the coast and at higher elevations. Unlike other frogs that are obligate carnivores, this frog has been spotted feeding on algae as adults.
The following frogs in this list are often adopted as pets, although we highly recommend against adopting frogs as pets for a variety of reasons.
12. Pixie Frog
African Bullfrogs, also known as Pixie Frogs, are a large aquatic frog that can be very aggressive towards prey. Like American Bullfrogs, Pixie Frogs can eat small snakes, mice and large spiders.
Pixie Frogs have large olive bodies with ridges, and generally have a yellow belly. They can weigh up to 3.1 pounds (1.4 kg) and 9.6 inches (24.5 cm). Females are about half the size of males, but are still fairly large compared to other frog species.
This is one of the rare frog species that watch over their tadpoles. Although the male frog may be somewhat careless and eat or step on some of the tadpoles, he tries to aid in their survival by remaining defending their territory until they need to be transferred to a large pool of water.
13. African Dwarf Frog
African Dwarf Frogs are one of the rare fully aquatic amphibians. Although these frogs have lungs, they spend the vast majority of their lives underwater. They generally come up to the surface to breathe since they do not have gills and can only breathe through their skin underwater.
These frogs are very interesting creatures since they eat using their feet and can hear by using the lines down the sides of their bodies that pickup vibrations. They are also different from many frogs since they will gladly eat dead bugs, whereas most frogs only eat live food.
Other than African Dwarf Frogs, other frogs that are fully aquatic include African Clawed Frog, Western Clawed Frog, and Western Dwarf Clawed Frog. These frogs spend the vast majority of their time underwater and do not live on land as much as other aquatic frogs.
14. Tomato Frog
Tomato Frogs are small, round, red-colored frogs that originate from Madagascar. They are Near Threatened due to habitat loss and the pet trade. This is one of the reasons Tomato Frogs should not be kept as pets.
Although they are considered aquatic frogs, Tomato Frogs are poor swimmers. They breed in freshwater pools and live near water, but they prefer to burrow in mud. Tomato Frogs use the self-defense mechanism of puffing up their bodies and secreting poison when they feel threatened in order to fend off predators.
More About Aquatic Frogs
You can learn more about different types of aquatic frogs in these articles on our blog:
- 10 Tips to Find Aquatic Frogs in The Wild
- Find Out if Aquatic Frogs Are Poisonous
- Different types of Frogs: Aquatic, Arboreal, Terrestrial
- Frog Feet Depending on The Type of Frog
- 10 Must Know Bullfrog Facts
Questions Related to Aquatic Frogs
What Frogs Are Fully Aquatic? African Dwarf Frog are fully aquatic as are African Clawed Frog, Western Clawed Frog, and Western Dwarf Clawed Frog. These frogs spend the vast majority of their time underwater and do not live on land as much as other aquatic frogs.
Do Aquatic Frogs Need Land? Most aquatic frogs need land to live and thrive. However, fully aquatic frogs like African Dwarf Frog do not need any land to live since they are completely aquatic and spend all of their time under water.
Can You Hold Aquatic Frogs? Generally, aquatic frogs can be held under their arms between your thumb and index finger, arms with their bodies sitting in your palm. It is important to have clean, wet hands when handling aquatic frogs.
Association of Zoos & Aquariums, Frog Watch Florida
Richter, S. C., Young, J. E., Johnson, G. N., and Seigel, R. A. (2003). Stochastic variation in reproductive success of a rare frog, Rana sevosa: implications for conservation and for monitoring amphibian populations. Biological Conservation 111: 171–7.
Loveridge, Arthur (1950). “History and habits of the East African bullfrog” (PDF). J. East Afr. Nat. Hist. Soc. 19: 253–275.
Munger, J.C., L. Heberger, D. Logan, W. Peterson, L. Mealey, and M. Caughlin. 1994. A survey of the herpetofauna of the Bruneau Resource Area, Boise District, with focus on the spotted frog (Rana pretiosa). Idaho Bur. Land Manage. Tech. Bull. 94-7.