Petkeen is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn More

19 Frogs Found in Kentucky (with Pictures)

Kristin Hitchcock

Kentucky is home to many different frogs. Many of these frogs are entirely harmless. However, there is one species of poisonous frog in Kentucky – the Pickerel Frog.

Of course, these frogs are poisonous – not venomous. Therefore, you would have to eat it to be affected. Most people don’t go around eating random frogs, so humans typically don’t have anything to worry about.

There are about 23 different frogs and toads in Kentucky classified into five different groups. You can often get an idea of what species a particular frog is by knowing these groups. They are pretty distinctive from each other.

Below, we’ll take a look at some of the more common frog species.

divider- reptile paw

19 Frogs Found in Kentucky

Poisonous Frogs in Kentucky

1. Pickerel Frog

pickerel frog
Image Credit: Pixabay
Species: Lithobates palustris
Longevity: 5–8 years
Good to own as a pet?: No
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 1¾ to 4 inches
Diet: Insects, spiders, invertebrates

This is the only poisonous frog in Kentucky. It is recommended that you don’t handle it, as you may accidentally ingest some of the poison. For the most part, they are utterly harmless to people – you just don’t want your dog trying to eat it.

They are always a grey or tan color—never green—and have two rows of dark spots on their back.

They often prefer to live near ponds with dense vegetation.


Little Frogs in Kentucky

1. Eastern Gray Treefrog

Eastern Gray Treefrog side view_Darren Brode_Shutterstock
Image credit: Darren Brode, Shutterstock
Species: Hyla versicolor
Longevity: 7 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 1¼ to 2 inches
Diet: Insects and larvae

Despite their name, this species ranges from brown to grey to green. They can vary quite a bit in coloration. Usually, they’re found up in the trees sleeping or singing. Their sticky pads allow them to climb up just about anything easily.

They are not found throughout Kentucky – just in a few counties.


2. Spring Peeper

Spring Peeper
Image Credit: Frode Jacobsen, Shutterstock
Species: Pseudacris crucifer
Longevity: 3 – 4 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 1 – 1 ½ inches
Diet: Insects

This is one of the smallest frogs around – only reaching about an inch. They are common throughout Kentucky and spend most of their time on the ground hiding. They are commonly found in leaf litter of all sorts.

While they are a frog, they spend much of their time on land. They only enter the water to breed or lay eggs.


3. Mountain Chorus Frog

Species: Pseudacris brachyphona
Longevity: 5 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 1 inch
Diet: Insects

The Mountain Chorus Frog has a range that covers eastern and southern Kentucky. They are not usually found in water, preferring woodlands instead.

They usually range from tan to light brown, with darker brown markings found across their body.

This is a relatively small species.


4. Eastern Narrow Mouth Toad

Species: Gastrophryne carolinensis
Longevity: 6 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 1 inch
Diet: Insects – especially ants

While this frog has the word “toad” in its name, it isn’t a toad at all. They are frogs.

They are either grey or brown with a characteristic fold on the back of their head. They are usually found on rocky slopes and canyons. These frogs prefer to hide under rocks and similar debris.

They can be found in some of southern Kentucky.


5. Wood Frog

Wood Frog side view_Jay Ondreicka_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Jay Ondreicka, Shutterstock
Species: Lithobates sylvaticus
Longevity: 3 years max
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 1 ½ to 3 ¼ inches
Diet: Insects

The Wood Frog ranges from brown to tan to rusty. They often have a dark coloration around their eyes, commonly referred to as a robbers mask.

They are found throughout much of Kentucky, except for some northern and western counties.

This species is exceptionally tolerable to colder temperatures. They can create a sugar solution that works like antifreeze in colder temperatures. They can tolerate freezing in up to 65% of their body.


6. Northern Leopard Frog

Northern Leopard Frog side view_Paul Reeves Photography_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Paul Reeves Photography, Shutterstock
Species: Lithobates pipiens
Longevity: 1–2 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 2–4½ inches
Diet: Anything that fits in their mouth

This species is characterized by their haphazardly spaced rows of oval-shaped dots on their back. Sometimes, these rows don’t look much like rows at all.

They need access to three different habitats, including a permanent body of water for overwintering. This makes their range somewhat small since their needs are so particular.

As opportunistic feeders, they will eat just about anything – including birds and garter snakes. If it fits in their mouth, they will eat it.


7. Cope’s Gray Treefrog

cope's gray treefrog on a stone
Image Credit: Fburnette, Shutterstock
Species: Hyla chrysoscelis
Longevity: 7–9 years old
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 1¼–2 inches
Diet: Insects

This species is somewhat smaller than the Gray Treefrog. These two species can be difficult to distinguish from each other – especially while they are both mottled. Usually, the Cope’s gray treefrog has a lime-green coloration, while the Gray Treefrog varies more in coloration.


8. Blanchard’s Cricket Frog

Blanchard's Cricket Frog
Image Credit: Ryan M. Bolton, Shutterstock
Species: Acris blachardi
Longevity: 1 year
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 1.5 inches
Diet: Insects

Despite their small size, these tiny frogs can jump extremely high – up to six feet in many cases.

Their coloration ranges a bit from orange to black to green. They are mainly found in northern Kentucky, where they prefer slow-moving streams, lakes, and ponds. They may also be found in marshy areas.

Their breeding call sounds like the chirp of a cricket and is usually repeated for about 20 beats.


9. Northern Cricket Frog

 Northern Cricket Frog
Image Credit: samray, Shutterstock
Species: Acris crepitans
Longevity: 4 months
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 1.5 inches
Diet: Insects

As their name suggests, this frog sounds a lot like a cricket. Their coloration ranges from green to brown. Some are even a grayish color. They usually have a backward triangle on their head, which is an easy way to identify them.

They are found near permanent water sources – like slow-moving streams, lakes, and marshy areas.

They are found south and west of the Kentucky River drainage area.


10. Upland Chorus Frog

Species: Pseudacris feriarum
Longevity: 5 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: ¾ to 1 ½ inches
Diet: Anything that fits in their mouth

These tiny frogs have three dark stripes that run down the back of their head. They are usually brown, grey-brown, or reddish. Dark blotching is common.

This is a rare species to see due to its secretive nature. They usually prefer to stay hidden, though they may be spotted after it rains.

They are also rare in Kentucky, so the odds of just stumbling on one is unlikely.


11. Bird-voiced Treefrog

Bird-voiced tree frog
Image Credit: Mike Wilhelm, Shutterstock
Species: Hyla avivoca
Longevity: 2.5 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 1 to 1 ¾ inches
Diet: Insects and spiders

The coloration of this frog varies widely. They can be either gray or green, depending on the individual. Often, they have a light spot under their eyes. They look very similar to Cope’s gray tree frogs – though they do sound quite different.

They have been known to interbreed with other treefrogs naturally, which has resulted in some interesting hybrids.


Big Frogs in Kentucky

1. American Bullfrog

american bullfrog
Image Credit: Pixabay
Species: Lithobates catesbeianus
Longevity: 7 – 9 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 8 inches
Diet: Anything that fits in their mouth

Like most Bullfrogs, this species grows to be rather large. They can weigh up to a pound and a half when they reach their full size. They are often found near bodies of water with plenty of dense vegetation around the shoreline.

They are common throughout Kentucky and can be found in every county.


2. Green Frog

green frog
Image Credit: Pixabay
Species: Lithobates clamitans
Longevity: Unknown
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 2 ½ – 3 ½ inches
Diet: Anything that fits in their mouth

Based on their name, you would expect these frogs to be very green. However, they range from dark green to brownish. They have dark molting across much of their head, chest, and legs. Their throat color ranges from yellow for males to white for females.

They are abundant in Kentucky and can adapt to many different habitats. They prefer the water, though.


3. Green Treefrog

American green tree frog on green leaves
Image Credit: LorraineHudgins, Shutterstock
Species: Hyla cinerea
Longevity: 6 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 2.5 inches
Diet: Insects

As their name suggests, the Green Treefrog comes in various shades of green. They usually have a white stripe down their size, allowing you to identify them quickly.

Despite their somewhat larger size, they are easily frightened. Usually, they can be found in marshes, swamps, ponds, and streams. Currently, they are only in the western tip of Kentucky.


4. Crawfish Frog

Species: Lithobates areolatus
Longevity: Unknown
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 2–3 inches
Diet: Beetles, reptiles, crawfish, and amphibians

The Crawfish Frog has a large, stubby body and extreme humped back when standing still. They have many different irregular stripes and spots across their body, making them look unique compared to other frogs.

They can be found in a variety of habitats, including prairies and meadows. They don’t require water, but many can also be found around permanent lakes and ponds.

They are only found in the westernmost counties of Kentucky.


5. Barking Treefrog

Barking Tree Frog
Image Credit: Steve Bower, Shutterstock
Species: Hyla gratiosa
Longevity: 8–10 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 3 inches
Diet: Insects

The Barking Treefrog is unique. Firstly, they prefer areas that don’t have any trees or permanent standing water. This gives them very few options in Kentucky. How a frog can thrive without trees or standing water is a mystery.

They can be seen burrowing into the sand when the weather gets overly hot. Some may also climb the rare trees in the area.


6. Plains Leopard Frog

Species: Lithobates blairi
Longevity: 2–4 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 3 3/4 inches
Diet: Insects, some vegetation

This species is a medium brown with dark spots across its body. Their eardrum is very obvious, making it easier to identify them. They aren’t giant frogs, but they can get bigger than three inches.

They prefer streams, ponds, ditches, and similar habitats. In mild weather, they can travel quite far from water.

This is one of the rarest frogs in Kentucky, so the odds of seeing on it is pretty low.


7. Southern Leopard Frog

Southern Leopard Frog
Image Credit: LorraineHudgins, Shutterstock
Species: Lithobates sphenocephala
Longevity: 6–9 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 4 inches
Diet: Anything that fits in their mouth

The Southern Leopard frog gets their name from its uneven, oval-shaped dots. Kentucky is home to three different leopard frogs, but this is the most common species. They can be found in a variety of different habitats, depending on their needs.

For instance, they will forage in fields and meadows while overwintering in permanent bodies of water.

They will consume just about anything that fits in their mouth and are very opportunistic eaters.

Related Read:

new frog divider

Conclusion

There are quite a few frogs that can be found in Kentucky. Some of them are unique, while other species can be hard to distinguish.

Luckily, none of these species are hazardous. One is poisonous, which may be troublesome for those looking to eat it. However, that usually doesn’t include humans – so most of us don’t have anything to worry about.

The poison is far more about making the frog taste bad – not necessarily killing the predator. Therefore, larger dogs probably aren’t in any danger either.

Learning to identify frogs is a mix of looking at their appearance and listening to their call. With some of the Kentucky treefrogs, the only way to tell them apart is to listen to their call. When it comes to frogs, their call can vary just as much as their appearance.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Kristin Hitchcock

Kristin is passionate about helping pet parents create a fulfilling life with their pets by informing them on the latest scientific research and helping them choose the best products for their pets. She currently resides in Tennessee with four dogs, three cats, two fish, and a lizard, though she has dreams of owning chickens one-day!