Each species has unique characteristics suited to their respective habitats, spanning rainforests, deserts, mountains, and even the Arctic.
From the transparent Glass Frogs to the gargantuan Goliath Frogs, discover the most interesting types of frogs in our list. Make sure to scroll until the end, where you will learn about extinct and newly discovered species. Let’s leap into that article now!
Frogs are members of the class Amphibia, together with the salamanders and newts. Specifically, they're part of the order Anura, a term that originates from Greek and translates to “without a tail.” Moreover, it is divided into three suborders: Archaeobatrachia, Mesobatrachia, and Neobatrachia.
The first one is the most ancient group, with a handful of species mainly found in the Northern Hemisphere. Next, the last group, which literally means new frogs, possesses advanced features, housing over 96% of all frog species. Lastly, the second suborder showcases traits that bridge the other two.
If you wonder where toads belong, they are actually frogs. A toad refers to frogs with warty, dry skin and shorter hind legs. They are not grouped into one but instead are spread across multiple families.
Since the Anura order comprises 7,651 species, we curated this with the most interesting and common frog families1.
The Tree Frog family, with 1050 species, thrives in diverse environments, such as jungles, deserts, and even mountains. They live on every continent except Antarctica. However, they are most abundant in the tropics of the western hemisphere.
They come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from a tiny 0.75-inch to a more robust 5-inch. Their hues usually come in greys, browns, or greens, but others sport brighter colors.
Earning their name, tree frogs have sticky toe pads, allowing them to climb and cling onto leaves and branches nimbly. They also have binocular vision, which helps them assess the distance when jumping from one branch to another.
Now, let's look into some specific species. First up is the Red-eyed Tree Frog (Agalychnis callidryas.) It's hard to miss this one with its bright red eyes, vivid green body, and sides striped in blue and yellow. Contrast that with the Cuban Tree Frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis), North America's heaviest tree frog sporting the usual earth tone colors.
And then, we have the Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata). These arboreal frogs, measuring only about 1.5 inches in size, are known for their loud, distinctive calls. Heard from half a mile away, it sounds like drawing down fingers along a comb’s teeth.
The Poison Dart Frog is as lethal as it is tiny. This type of frog, often no more than an inch long, is a mix of vibrant colors, from electric blues to fiery reds. However, they're a loud, clear message to predators that they are toxic. This adaptation is called aposematism, which evolved from specialty diets of ants and termites.
You'll find them in the rainy forests of Central and South America. Each region hosts a variety of Poison Dart Frogs, each with a unique color palette. For example, the Golden Poison Frog (Phyllobates terribilis) has a metallic yellow hue. At the same time, the Granular Poison Frog (Oophaga granulifera) sports a bright orange body.
But these poison frogs are facing a harsh reality. Out of 205 species, IUCN, as of this writing, categorized 24 as Vulnerable, 34 Endangered, and 24 Critically Endangered. In 2018, they recently announced that the Splendid Poison Frog (Oophaga species) will be officially extinct. Habitat loss and climate change - are just a few of the threats they face.
Our next anurans are the rain frogs, which are unlike the typical elongated shape of many frogs. Their round and plump body, coupled with a short, stubby snout, makes them a sight to remember.
These little creatures measure just 1 to 2 inches as adults, and their colors range from dull brown to mottled gray, a perfect camouflage against predators.
As nocturnals, they burrow underground during the day and only emerge at night to feed and mate. You'll find them most active when it's raining – hence the name. They can thrive in subtropical or tropical dry forests, moist lowland forests, and even high-altitude grasslands. Though small, they have powerful hind legs that are perfect for digging.
The Desert Rain Frog (Breviceps macrops) stands out among the family members. Its unusual vocalizations sound less like a typical frog call and more like a squeaky toy.
Furthermore, this type of frog skips the tadpole stage completely. Instead, after the female and male frogs do their job, eggs hatch into baby froglets.
Unfortunately, seven of the 37 species are endangered, and eight are critically endangered, according to IUCN. The decline is primarily caused by habitat deterioration resulting from human activities.
With over 455 species, true frogs are diverse and widespread. They are distinguishable by their long legs, narrow waist, webbed toes, and smooth skin. Regarding habitat, they mostly live near freshwater bodies.
One member you might be familiar with is the American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus). This gargantuan can grow up to a whopping eight inches, making it the biggest frog in North America.
Because of their size, these ground-dwelling frogs are opportunistic feeders, consuming everything from insects and salamanders to birds and even small mammals!
Contrastingly, our next frog, the Mountain Yellow-legged Frog (Rana muscosa), prefers a quieter life. This type of frog, measuring a modest 1.5 to 3 inches, is named for its striking yellow-to-orange belly and hind legs.
Like American Bullfrogs, it also spends winters hibernating underwater. They can even survive freezing temperatures. However, despite its resilience, this species is critically endangered due to habitat destruction, disease, and introduced predators.
Lastly, the Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) is another intriguing species. When you listen closely, its croak during breeding season is like the quacking sound of a duck.
Tongueless frogs have a rather unusual way of catching their prey. Unlike other frogs that use their long, sticky tongues to snatch insects, these amphibians instead rely on their strong, sharp claws. This is why they are also known as clawed frogs.
They also have smooth skin adorned with spots or mottles. These aquatic frogs have flatter bodies to adapt to their watery homes in Sub-Saharan Africa and South America. A female frog can grow up to 5 inches, while a male typically measures around 2.5 inches.
Now, let's turn our attention to a species. African dwarf frog (Hymenochirus boettgeri) has unusual mating behaviors. The male frog wraps around the female in an embrace. In technical terms, this position is called the inguinal amplexus.
Next, the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) is an important tool in scientific research. In fact, this species was the first-ever vertebrate to be cloned successfully in a lab back in 1973.
The conservation status of these types of frogs varies, emphasizing the urgency for ongoing research and conservation efforts. Out of the 41 species under this family, there are four endangered and two critically endangered clawed frogs.
Horned treefrogs sport distinct horn-like skin extensions above their eyes. Their colors paint a vibrant palette, from shades of green and brown to pitch black. They also have patterns that help them blend into their surroundings. For example, a Banded horned treefrog has a leaflike camouflage.
These types of frogs inhabit the lush rainforests of Central and South America, primarily in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. As arboreal frogs, they fit in well thanks to their strong legs and special toe pads.
But what truly sets these types of frogs apart is their reproductive behavior. Female frogs carry fertilized eggs on their backs until they hatch. Skipping the tadpole stage increases the survival rate of the young frogs in the challenging rainforest habitat. That is why they are also called marsupial frogs.
Out of the 121 species under this frog family, there are 24 endangered frogs and seven critically endangered. Some species, like the Marsupial Horned treefrog, find themselves on this list due to habitat loss and pollution.
Goose Frogs can be mistaken for toads for their short legs. As camouflage masters, their colors range from muted browns and greens. They look like dead leaves, perfect for blending in with the leaf litter of their homes in Southeast Asia’s forest floors.
The Long-nosed horned frog, also known as the Malayan Horned Frog (Megophrys nasuta), is a prime example of this. It has jagged-shaped patterns and horn-like projections above the eyes.
Sadly, the IUCN categorizes 14 of the 318 short-legged frogs as critically endangered and 47 as endangered. Their decline is caused by habitat degradation, which is caused by various human activities.
Narrow-mouthed frogs are small, usually growing below 0.6 inches. Their bodies are usually round or oval, with short limbs, short snouts, and large heads. Some blend into their surroundings with dull shades of brown and green, while others stand out with striking colors. For example, a female Tomato Frog is hard to miss with its bright red color.
With over 745 species, these types of frogs display diversity in every aspect. Some live underground or on top of trees in Asia, Africa, northern Australia, and South America. They also reproduce in different ways.
There are 25 critically endangered and 61 endangered species in this family. Threats vary from agrochemical pollution to climate change.
Moss Frog or Shrub Frog calls the dense forests of East and Southeast Asia home. Adult frogs in this family vary in length, from 0.6 to 4.7 inches, and wear a coat of greens and browns. Their skin, textured and bumpy, resembles the mossy terrains they inhabit, offering them the perfect camouflage.
Unfortunately, extensive deforestation and habitat loss have put these types of frogs in dire need of help. Of the 455 species, IUCN declared 29 critically endangered and 68 endangered.
There is also a total of 17 extinct frogs in this family. A few of them, like the Sharp-Nosed Bush Frog and the Sri Lanka Bubble-nest Frog, were last seen in the late 1800s. Despite extensive research, according to the latest IUCN assessment in 2020, there's no appearance.
The Screeching Frogs or Squaker Frogs are primarily found in sub-Saharan Africa. They have diversified appearances, from earthy-toned and camouflaged to vibrant and noticeable. Their habitats typically include terrestrial and arboreal settings.
Notable for their variety, the family encompasses 153 species. To name a few, there is the Hairy Frog, aptly named for its unique hair-like structures, and the Common Squeaker, an abundant amphibian with a high-pitched call.
However, not all species are stable. IUCN classified 11 of these frogs to be critically endangered and 30 as endangered.
Glass frogs are an intriguing species from the amphibian family. Their most identifiable trait is their translucent underside. This unique feature lets you see the internal organs, functioning like a natural x-ray machine.
Their habitat is chiefly the lush rainforests of Central and South America. The predominant color is typically a vibrant green, which blends seamlessly with the foliage of their surroundings.
Interestingly, these frogs reduce their visibility by hiding their blood. This fascinating mechanism helps them camouflage within their environment, protecting them from predators.
While using advanced cameras, researchers discovered Fleischmann’s glass frogs (Hyalinobatrachium fleischmanni) achieve transparency by removing nearly 89% of red blood cells from circulation and storing them in their liver. This groundbreaking observation provides insights into metabolic, hemodynamic, and blood-clot research.
Threatened by habitat loss and pollution, 11 are critically endangered and 39 endangered out of the 164 species under this family.
Among the eight species of the Conrauidae family, the Goliath Frog, also called the Giant Slippery Frog, is the most famous member for being the largest frog in the world.
An adult frog can grow up to a whopping 12.6 inches in length and weigh over 7.2 pounds. To put it into perspective, that's about the size of a small house cat. In contrast, the smallest frog in the world is a narrow-mouthed frog species, Paedophryne amauensis, at size only up to 0.3 inches.
Nestled in the dense wilderness of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, they live alongside fast-flowing rivers with sandy bottoms. Their robust hind legs and webbed feet, designed for power and agility, make them exceptional swimmers.
Interestingly, unlike most frogs, they are actually silent because they have no vocal sacs. However, when it comes to feeding, they aren't picky. Their diet includes everything from insects and crustaceans to small amphibians and even fish.
Unfortunately, they are listed as an endangered species. There are also two critically endangered species in this family. Declination in the population is due to rampant deforestation and pollution.
Ghost frogs live in the southern tip of Africa. Adult frogs have large eyes with vertical pupils and triangular toe discs, which differentiate them from others. They sport dark spots on their backs, which are usually brown or green.
These types of frogs live in fast-moving waters in rocky mountain forests. Their interesting moniker, Ghost Frog, is influenced by their occurrence in Skeleton Gorge on Table Mountain, Cape Town.
Adapting to their environment, they have flat bodies to navigate crevices. To help them climb different surfaces, they developed large toe discs. Tadpoles also have modified mouths that allow them to cling.
Out of the seven species in this family, the Table Mountain Ghost Frog and Hewitt’s Ghost Frog are critically endangered and endangered species, respectively. Both face threats such as alien vegetation, disrupted fire patterns, stream-flow inconsistencies due to reservoirs, rampant soil erosion, and destructive water extraction practices.
According to the IUCN, at least 33 known extinct species of frogs. Over-exploitation, habitat degradation due to urbanization, and climate change are some of the common threats causing frog populations to diminish. For instance, the Golden Toad, a native of the forests of Costa Rica, was last seen in 1989.
Then there's the Gastric-brooding Frog from Australia. This frog had a unique way of giving birth. The female swallowed her eggs and then incubated them in her stomach. When the time came, she gave birth through her mouth. However, the mid-1980s saw this extraordinary species disappear, most likely due to a disease affecting amphibians.
These species' tragic state reminds us of our activities' significant impact. It is not an understatement to say that our actions may decide the future of many more frog species, pushing us to reevaluate our ecological duties.
Due to various threats, the typical trend for most wildlife species is downward, but amphibians are different. In 2004, 5,743 frog species were declared by the first global assessment of amphibian populations. Fast forward to today, the latest assessment of the Amphibian Species of the World2 is 8,693. That is around 155 new types of frogs each year!
In 2019, herpetologist Mark Scherz and his colleagues discovered three tiny frogs endemic to Madagascar. They stand remarkable for their tiny size, with adults reaching around half an inch. These species gained media attention for their witty scientific names: Mini mum, Mini atures, and Mini scule.
If you want to learn more about the latest ones, check out this list by AmphibiaWeb that updates every time there is a new frog discovery.
Frost, D. R. (2023). Amphibian Species of the World: an online reference. ElectroAmerican Museum of Natural History.
Frost, D. R. (2023). Amphibian Species of the World: an online reference. ElectroAmerican Museum of Natural History.
Isabela is a determined millennial passionate about continuously seeking out ways to make an impact. With a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering with honors, Isabela’s research expertise and interest in artistic works, coupled with a creative mindset, offers readers a fresh take on different environmental, social, and personal development topics.