10 Tips to Find Aquatic Frogs in The Wild

I love looking for frogs and observing them in the wild and I am very experienced at finding them. I have gone out in nature to search for frogs many times since I was a little kid. Finding frogs is super fun and it can be especially easy if you are looking for aquatic frogs or species that live in water.

As a general rule, places to find frogs are in vegetation around a lake, pond, swamp, creek, stream, bog, fen, or marsh. Frogs sit in the shade in slow-moving freshwater during the day to stay hydrated and oxygenated, and can generally be found in shallow shoreline areas of such bodies of water.

Keep in mind that there are three types of frogs that you can find in the wild, and in this article, we are specifically going to focus on aquatic frogs. Aquatic frogs are the kind of frogs that you might think of right off the top of your head if you were asked to picture a frog and they generally live in or near bodies of water.

Check out our guide on how to find Toads or Tree Frogs since they are generally located in different areas compared to Aquatic Frogs. 

1. Look For Frogs Near The Shore of a Lake 

As a general rule, frogs that live in freshwater lakes can be found near the shoreline, in water, surrounded by vegetation during the day. Frogs may be found on land near the shoreline during the early morning around sunrise before 7 am, and late evening after sunset, generally later than 8 pm.

I have rented cottages on lakes a few times and have had the wonderful luck that one out of two times there was a frog that lived right near the cottage dock. In the photo below, I found a Leopard Frog on the edge of the lake before 6 am.

I Found This Frog Near a Lake Before 6am

And it was around 8 p.m. when I found the bullfrog below, right in the open on the shoreline near the dock of a different cottage before sunset. Since the sun is not as strong in the early morning and evening compared to the peak of the afternoon (generally 12pm to 4pm), frogs may sit out in the open at earlier and later times of day. During the day, they generally sit in water, shaded by vegetation.

I Found This Frog Near a Lake After 8pm

You will not find frogs in areas of lakes with a lot of movement, waves, or highly frequented beaches. And frogs will not go out into the middle of a lake, the water is too deep, moving and generally far from areas to rest. Frogs like to hide in vegetation, in slow-moving water with little disturbances or predators. 

2. Look For Frogs on The Banks of Shallow Ponds

You can look for frogs on the banks of shallow ponds near the edges of the water. During the day, frogs that are located in ponds are generally submerged in water, sitting on moss, decaying vegetation, algae, lily pads, oxygenating plants, or other vegetation.

Aquatic frogs spend the vast majority of their time submerged with just their head above water in order to drink and breathe. And so the easiest way to spot a frog in a pond is to look for a little snout sticking out of the water along the very edges of the pond.

Two Frogs Enjoying Decaying Vegetation

In the photo above I found two bullfrogs sitting on near the bank of a pond. Although it was the daytime, they were both resting out in the open since the pond is very shaded by trees. As you can see they’re both sitting in decaying vegetation including dead leaves, algae, and moss (CTNF).

3. Look For Frogs in a Slow Creek or Brook

When looking for frogs in a brook or creek, it is best to check banks and pools of water with very little movement. You will rarely find frogs in rivers, fjords, or large streams since they cannot spawn in fast moving or highly floodable bodies of water. 

The Creek Has to Have Vegetation And Slow Moving Water For Frogs

I was not looking for frogs the day I took the picture above, but I am sure I would have found some had I looked in the area along the shoreline in the bottom left of the photo. As you can see, there is a lot of live and decaying vegetation sitting in slow-moving water which makes a great habitat for aquatic frogs.

4. Check The Pools of a Bog or Fen

Freshwater wetlands, which are a biologically diverse ecosystem flooded by water and covered in vegetation, are excellent places to find frogs and include bogs and fens. However, frogs will not be present in brackish or saltwater wetlands. 

Frog in a Bog / Fen

I was lucky enough to visit a beautiful peat fen and got to spot one frog the day I was there. Above is the photo of the frog I spotted in Frontenac National Park peat fen in Quebec, Canada. Below is an above shot of the beautiful fen where I found it.

Parc National Frontenac, Quebec, Canada Has Some Frogs

5. Go to a Marsh, Swamp, Bog or Bayou

Freshwater marshes, bogs, swamps, bayous, carrs, pocosins, mires, quags, sinks, and peatlands are great places to find frogs because they enjoy the freshwater, permanence, lack of current, and abundant live or decaying vegetation.

The marsh is my absolute favorite place to find frogs. Frogs thrive in marshy, swampy, boggy environments. The best place to look for frogs in marshes is along the banks among the vegetation. Look for their snout sticking out of the water.

Look For Frog Snouts Sticking Out of Marshes

Above is a photo of a frog I spotted in a marsh. I have found that most marsh frogs are super chill! They generally have a confident frog personality and let you take pictures of them up close.  

Frog in a Marsh

Some marches are located next to cities and have been arranged to make it easy to stroll through them. Just look up “Marsh Your Location” to find out where the closest wetland is in your area. Head over there in the early evening with a camera and have fun taking pictures of all the frogs you spot! 🙂

Arranged Marsh That Makes it Easy to Safely Observe Frogs

Now that we have had a look at the best places to find frogs, let’s dive into some more tips on things to avoid when looking for frogs.

6. Avoid Temporary Bodies of Water

Generally, most frog species will not be found in vernal or seasonal pools, temporary puddles, or sloughs. Frogs generally require permanent bodies of water with little to no current to spawn and thrive.

Some frogs lay eggs in puddles of water, but most of the frog species in North America prefer permanent bodies of water where they can spawn during mating season. Depending on their location and the species, frogs generally reproduce between November and May in the United States and in Canada.

7. Avoid Areas in Full Sun

Frogs generally avoid the full sun to stay hydrated so if you are looking for a frog, go outside peak sun hours (generally 12pm to 4pm) and avoid wetlands with no shade since the lack of shade could heat water to temperatures higher than 25ºC (77ºF) which is not ideal for many frog species.

Frogs sit in the shade to stay cool and sit in water to remain hydrated. They generally avoid hot water. So if the pond in which you are looking for frogs is very small, has no shade, no vegetation and is in full sun, chances are the water is too hot for a frog (CTNF).

8. Avoid Fast-Paced Water

Frogs avoid fast-paced waterways with current, undertow or waves because they need to anchor their eggs to vegetation in order to survive. Therefore, canals, dams, and rivers generally do not have frogs unless there are very slow-paced, highly vegetated areas with little chance of flooding.

Dams And Waterfalls Create Too Much Current For Frogs

Frogs do not like water with current or waterfalls since fast-paced water could dislodge their eggs, wash away or kill their tadpoles. In order to survive, frogs need highly vegetated, extremely slow or practically stagnant water. If you can’t find frogs near a river, try to find a spot with very little movement, or search a different body of water.

9. You Will Not Find Frogs in Salt Water

Most frogs do not live in oceans, seas, lagoons, bays, channels, deltas, gulfs, mangrove forests, tide pools or salt marshes since these are saltwater bodes that frogs cannot thrive in. Saltwater is detrimental to most frog species hindering their respiratory and hydration systems.

Atlantic Ocean Beach: You Will Not Find Frogs Here

Frogs breathe and drink through their skin, and exposing themselves to saltwater hinders their ability to stay oxygenated and hydrated. If a frog cannot breathe or drink it will die. Therefore, the chances of finding frogs near bodies of saltwater is very low. Some frog species have adapted to such environments, but the vast majority have not.

10. Avoid Polluted Water

Frogs avoid wastewater, polluted water or saltwater since they have very sensitive, porous skin through which they drink and breathe. Frogs are highly susceptible to ingesting any pollutants or chemicals in water and generally avoid such bodies if possible.

Therefore, you will probably not find frogs at the exit of sewers, or in pools of wastewater, sewage or chemical-filled pools. If there are frogs in such locations, they risk dying. You can help by calling your local Wildlife department and discussing ways to save the frogs with them.

As a general rule, look for frogs along the shorelines of permanent bodies of freshwater, with live and decaying vegetation, shade and very little movement. The best places to find frogs are along the banks of ponds, swamps, marshes, fens, bogs, and bayous.

Tree Frogs And Toads Are in Different Locations

If you are looking for tree frogs or toads, you will need to search in different locations compared to aquatic frogs. Tree Frogs (as their name suggests) live in trees, and toads live on land. Therefore, they have different environmental requirements compared to the aquatic frogs we covered in this article.

Unfortunately, at the moment there is a lot of misinformation about how to find frogs in the wild online. Thankfully, I have a lot of experience finding frogs and toads and I am super excited to share my tips that actually work with you. You can learn even more about where to find frogs, toads, and tree frogs in our resources below. 

More About Where to Find Frogs

Check out the articles below to learn even more ways to find and attract frogs:

Questions Related to Finding Frogs

Where are Good Places to Find Frogs? Good places to find frogs are in vegetation around a lake, pond, swamp, creek, stream, bog, fen, or marsh. Frogs sit in the shade of very slow-moving freshwater during the day to stay hydrated and oxygenated, and can generally be found in shallow shoreline areas of such bodies of water.

Is Finding a Toad the Exact Same As Finding a Frog? Searching for toads is different from searching for frogs since toads live on land, aquatic frogs live in water, and tree frogs live in trees. Therefore, each type of frog is not found in the same locations.

Can I Find Frogs by Digging a Hole in the Ground Near a Pond? It may be possible to find a frog or toad by digging near a pond, however, it is highly discouraged since there are high chances of killing a frog in the process of searching for it in this way.

Where Can I Find Frogs in My Yard? You can find frogs in your yard near permanent bodies of water such as a natural or frog-friendly pond. If you do not have a pond, you may find terrestrial frogs (toads) in humid areas on land such as a window well, under leaves, or in rock shelters. You may find tree frogs in trees in your yard.

Sources

This article is written based on many years of personal experience, enjoy 🙂

Keddy, P.A. (2010). Wetland ecology : principles and conservation (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521519403.