Part of my family lives in Michigan and I loved going searching for frogs in Novi with them as a kid. Michigan is home to many bodies of water that attract several species of frogs to the state. As you come across some of these amphibians you may be curious to know what type of frogs they are.
There are 12 different species of frogs living in Michigan including the Blanchard’s Cricket Frog, Boreal Chorus Frog, American Bullfrog, Copes’ Gray Frog, Eastern Gray Tree Frog, Green Frog, Mink Frog, Northern Leopard Frog, Spring Peeper, Pickerel Frog, Western Chorus Frog and Wood Frog.
Use the following table to help you identify frogs in Michigan. Start with where you are located in the state (North or South) then the type of water body you are faced with (Standing or Moving). Then, look at the descriptions and images of these frogs below to know which once you have encountered.
|Frog Species||North||South||Standing Water||Moving Water|
|Blanchard’s Cricket Frog||X||X|
|Boreal Chorus Frog||X||X|
|Copes’ Gray Frog||X||X||X|
|Eastern Gray Tree Frog||X||X||X|
|Northern Leopard Frog||X||X||X|
|Western Chorus Frog||X||X||X|
Each year the Michigan Department of Natural Resources hosts a survey to help identify which frogs live in different areas around the state as wetlands shrink throughout the state, some species of frogs have begun to disappear.
Whether you are looking to participate in the annual frog survey or are just curious about the wildlife living around you, it is important to know what type of frogs you can find in your state. Keep reading to learn more about Michigan’s different frog species and some interesting facts to help you identify them!
1. Blanchard’s Cricket Frog
Blanchard Cricket Frogs are some of the smallest frogs growing to be less than an inch and a half. They can be found in marshes and ponds and in areas with standing water.
Although these frogs vary in color, they can be identified by their size and the lighter-colored stripe running down their back. Blanchard’s Cricket Frogs also have a dark triangle mark between their eyes that can be used to identify them from other frogs.
This frog species is primarily found in the southern region of Michigan but has been recorded in Leelanau. The Blanchard’s Cricket Frog is listed as a threatened species in Michigan and an endangered species in Wisconsin.
2. Boreal Chorus Frog
The Boreal Chorus Frog is a rare find in Michigan and has only been recorded on the Isle Royal just a few miles south of the U.S. / Canadian Border in Keweenaw County. However, the last time the Boreal Chorus frog was seen in Keweenaw County was in 1984. This frog species is rare but not listed as threatened or endangered as they are much more common in other US States and in Canada.
Boreal Chorus Frogs only grow to be an inch and a half at their largest and can be a variety of colors. Their identifying feature is a light colored stripe on the frog’s upper lip and three dark stripes on its back. You can find this species along the rocky shores or in the forests around boggy areas.
3. American Bullfrog
American Bullfrogs are the largest frog species in North America. Younger Bullfrogs have smooth skin that becomes bumpier as they age (although these are not warts). This frog can often be found in Michigan ponds and lakes. Bullfrogs do not mind standing or moving water.
Bullfrogs are easily identified by its larger size, but can also be distinguished from other frogs by its hooked toes and webbed feet. They tend to be shades of green and olive with yellow bellies and large tympanums.
4. Cope’s Gray Treefrogs
The Cope’s Gray Treefrog can be found throughout the entire state of Michigan, with the most recent sighting coming from Kalamazoo County. You can find this frogs in trees near standing water. This species of frog can grow to be anywhere between 1 to nearly 2.5 inches.
Cope’s Gray Treefrogs are usually gray or green in color and have brightly colored inner thighs. They breed from March to August in the vegetation surrounding wetlands. This species spends most of its day in the trees and feeds at night (CTNF).
5. Eastern Gray Treefrogs
The Eastern Gray Treefrog is not that different from the Cope’s Gray Treefrog in coloring, size, and location. The main feature used to distinguish the two species is their calls. Although similar to the Cope’s Gray Treefrog, the Eastern gray treefrog does have some other distinguishing factors. For example, the Eastern Gray Treefrog is slightly larger than the Cope’s variant.
Eastern Gray Treefrogs also have bumpier skin and twice as many chromosomes than the Eastern Gray Treefrog. They can be very hard to spot since they are extremely good at camouflage. Search for something shiny on bark and among the leaves on the ground to try to spot them.
6. Green Frog
Green Frogs call the lakes and ponds of Michigan home and are actually one of the most common frog species in the region. Green frogs can grow to be anywhere between two to four inches and can be found in a variety of colors, but are usually some variant of green (hence the name).
Although this species is often confused with Bullfrogs and Mink Frogs, the Green Frog can be distinguished by the dark bands around its legs. Sightings of Green Frogs are an often occurrence in Michigan such as in Wayne and Oakland county.
7. Mink Frog
While many frogs in Michigan can be found throughout the entire United States, the Mink Frog is only found in the states around the Great Lakes (and in Canada).
Mink Frogs grow to be about two to three inches long. This species is typically green with black spots on its back, a whitish underside, and yellow throats. However, the most distinguishing feature of the Mink Frog is its body odor.
An adult Mink Frogs’ skin releases a musky smell that resembles rotting onions. This smell is typically produced only when the frog is handled. Because this species can resemble other frogs such as a Bullfrog or a Green Frog, be careful before catching or handling one. You may be met by a stinky surprise!
8. Northern Leopard Frog
Northern Leopard Frogs grow to about three to five inches and are adorned with leopard-like spots across their backs and legs. The Northern Leopard Frog can be found throughout most of the United States including in Michigan in ponds and marshes.
However, the most common place to find a Northern Leopard Frog is in a high school science lab! That is right, that frog you dissected in High School was probably a Northern Leopard Frog. Northern Leopard Frogs have been over-harvested for dissections. Their legs are also a delicacy in some places but should be avoided because of declining populations due to human activity.
9. Northern Spring Peeper
Norther Spring Peepers are one of Michigan’s smaller frogs, growing to a maximum length of 1.5 inches. While Spring Peepers spend the breeding season in the wetlands of Michigan, they retreat to the forested areas for the rest of their lives.
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The color of a Spring Peeper will depend on the temperature as well as its living condition. However, they are most commonly light brown with an X on their backs. Check out the video above where I go exploring to find Spring Peeper – they are hard to spot!
10. Pickerel Frog
The Pickerel Frog can grow to be about two to four inches and can be found throughout most of the eastern United States. However, in the Great Lakes region, the Pickerel Frog has been listed as an uncommon or rare species and requires conservation.
Identify this frog by the square-shaped dark spots running down its back and its bright underside. If you see a Pickerel Frog, be sure to report it on the Michigan Herp Atlas to help with conservation efforts.
11. Western Chorus Frog
Western Chorus Frogs can be found in Michigan and live in the trees. They are among the many frog species throughout the United States that call in choruses.
Western Chorus Frogs have smooth skin and brow, grey or green-olive coloring depending on their habitat. Identify this frog by the three stripes running down its back, the dark stripe through its eye, and the white stripe along its upper lip.
12. Wood Frog
Wood Frogs prefer to live in, you guessed it, the woods. This Arboreal species can be found throughout the forested areas of Michigan and are much darker in color as compared to other frogs. The wood frog’s coloring ranges from russet to brown, and it has what appears to be a mask of dark brown skin on its face.
The Wood Frog can be found as far North as Alaska and as far South as Georgia. With such a large habitat this frog species is not of concern to scientists in Michigan.
More About Frogs in The USA
I love to go out looking for frogs and if you are in Michigan, by all means, head out and search for frogs! Michigan is a great place to capture photos of a diverse variety of frogs.
Learn more about where to find frogs in the USA in our guides below:
- 11 Types of Frogs You Can Find in Wisconsin
- 10 Frogs You Can Find in Illinois
- 8 Types of Frogs You Can Find in Maine
- Where Can You Find Toads in the USA?
- Where Can You Find Frogs in the USA?
- 10 Tips to Find Aquatic Frogs
- 8 Tips to Find Tree Frogs
- 4 Easy Ways to Find Toads
Michigan Natural Features Inventory, MSU Extension
Holman, J. A. 2012. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Michigan: A Quaternary and Recent Faunal Adventure. Detroit, Mich., Wayne State University Press.