|The Question: I have what I believe are American toads in my pond. I live in northeast Ohio. I heard them calling in the spring and now have Tadpoles. I am hearing calls from the pond at night that aren’t the same, but I can’t identify it. I’ve listened to calls online but I don’t know what it is. Do they change their calls after breeding? I had a bullfrog last year and it was obvious. I have recordings if that helps? The tone sounds similar but it’s shorter than what I heard in the spring. Can you help?
Submitted by: Chalan, Ohio, USA
The Short Answer: Here are the amphibian calls Chalan submitted:
The first one is certainly an American Toad. I originally thought the second one was a chorus frog, but it was pointed out to me by Steven Sens, who writes a cool site called Voices in the Valley about the animal sounds to be heard in Cuyahoga Valley National Park near Cleveland, Ohio, that the second recording is a gray tree frog ((Hyla versicolor).
He’s absolutely right. Oops.
In my defense, the Ohio Amphibians site I had linked that had a recording of the two chorus frogs to be found in Ohio has now removed those two recordings, which makes me wonder if I was led astray by someone else’s mislabled recordings. But in any event, I was wrong and I am grateful to Steven for correcting me.
I’m going to leave the rest of the information on chorus frogs in Ohio here because it’s still valid.
Chorus frogs are small frogs closely related to the more familiar spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer). There are two species of chorus frogs found in Ohio: the western chorus frog (Pseudacris triseriata) and the mountain chorus frog (Pseudacris brachyphona), and their calls are very similar, so it would be difficult to distinguish them that way. However, you said you live in Northeastern Ohio. The range maps at these links show the presence of the two frogs in Ohio.
[I removed the links to the two recordings]
You’ll see that the mountain chorus frog is only found in the southeastern corner of the state. So depending on how far north you live, you may be able to eliminate the mountain chorus frog.
Also, the two species are very similar in size and shape, but if you can get a peek at one of the callers, look for stripes on the back. That would suggest the western chorus frog. The mountain chorus frog is more patterned or sometimes blank on the back.
Here is a great site for frog calls. You can listen to individual species, or you can try to take a quiz to see how many you can identify: http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/frogquiz/index.cfm?fuseaction=main.lookup
Amphibitrivia: In your photo of American toads, you caught them in the act, or in “amplexus” as herpetologists would say. In many frogs and toads, the male clasps the female around the neck or belly and hangs on to her until she begins to lay her eggs. This allows him to be right on the spot to release his sperm and fertilize the eggs.
Do Some Science: You sound like the kind of person who likes listening to frogs and toads. If you want to help the Ohio Frog and Toad Calling Survey, go to: http://www.ohioamphibians.com/frogs/callsurvey/index.html, where you can find information on how to take surveys in your area to record amphibians calling.