There are over 7,000 frog species around the world – found in a wide variety of habitats, from rainforests to mountainous areas, to dry regions. Different frog species tend to mate and breed at different times of the year, depending on the species, and the environment they live in.
In general, frogs mate in the warm spring or summer months, following heavy rain. However, some frog species in some regions can mate at any time of the year, depending on the weather. Reproduction for frogs is largely stimulated by rainfall, higher temperatures, and the availability of food.
Most frog species require shallow bodies of freshwater in order to successfully breed, so they typically mate during times of the year when it is warm and rainy. In most parts of the world, this is during the spring or summer months.
When 72 Frog Species Mate
When frogs will mate largely depends on the environmental conditions.
Below is a table that shows approximately when 22 frog species mate:
When They Mate
|Wood frog||Lithobates sylvaticus||March – May|
|Pickerel Frog||Lithobates palustris||Late March – Early May|
|Northern Leopard Frog||Lithobates pipiens||March – June|
|American bullfrog||Lithobates catesbeianus||May – July in the north, and February – October in the south|
|Green frog||Rana clamitans||April – August|
|Bronze frog||Lithobates clamitans clamitans||April – August|
|Mink frog||Lithobates septentrionalis||May – August|
|River frog||Rana heckscheri||April – August|
|Crawfish frog||Lithobates areolatus||February – April|
|Pig Frog||Rana grylio||April – August|
|Coastal tailed frog||Ascaphus truei||Mate September – October (fertilization), but females lay eggs June – July (oviposition)|
|Carpenter frog||Rana virgatipes||April – August|
|Gopher frog||Lithobates capito||January – April|
|Northern red-legged frog||Rana aurora||January – March|
|California red-legged frog||Rana draytonii||November – April|
|Foothill yellow-legged frog||Rana boylii||March – August|
|Cascades frog||Rana cascadae||March – August|
|Columbia spotted frog||Rana luteiventris||February – July|
|Oregon spotted frog||Rana pretiosa||February – April|
|European common frog||Rana temporaria||March – late June|
|Florida bog frog||Lithobates okaloosae||April – August|
|Northern sheep frog||Hypopachus variolosus||April – October|
Below is a table that shows approximately when 24 tree frog species mate:
When They Mate
|Gray tree frog||Hyla versicolor||Late April – early August|
|Cope’s gray tree frog||Hyla chrysoscelis||April – July|
|Spring peeper||Pseudacris crucifer||March – June in the north, and October -March in the south|
|American green tree frog||Hyla cinerea||March – September|
|Cuban tree frog||Osteopilus septentrionalis||May – October|
|Pacific tree frog||Pseudacris regilla||January – mid-May|
|Spotted chorus frog||Pseudacris clarkii||January – early June|
|Pine woods tree frog||Hyla femoralis||April – October|
|Barking tree frog||Hyla gratiosa||March – August|
|Squirrel tree frog||Hyla squirella||March – August|
|Australian green tree frog||Litoria caerulea||November – February|
|European tree frog||Hyla arborea||Late March – June|
|Blanchard’s cricket frog||Acris blanchardi||May – July|
|Southern cricket Frog||Acris gryllus||May – July|
|Northern cricket frog||Acris crepitans||May – August|
|Pine Barrens tree frog||Dryophytes andersonii||May – June|
|Canyon tree frog||Hyla arenicolor||April – July|
|Boreal chorus frog||Pseudacris maculata||May – early July|
|Bird-voiced tree frog||Hyla avivoca||April – August|
|Little grass frog||Pseudacris ocularis||January – September|
|New Jersey chorus frog||Pseudacris kalmi||March – May|
|Mediterranean tree frog||Hyla meridionalis||April – June|
|Italian tree frog||Hyla intermedia||March – June|
|Iberian tree frog||Hyla molleri||March – June|
Below is a table that shows approximately when 26 toad species mate:
When They Lay Their Eggs
|American toad||Anaxyrus americanus||March – July|
|Fowler’s toad||Anaxyrus fowleri||Late April – Late June|
|Western toad||Anaxyrus boreas||February – July|
|Cane toad||Rhinella marina||March – September|
|Great Plains toad||Anaxyrus cognatus||March – September|
|Canadian toad||Anaxyrus hemiophrys||May – July|
|European toad||Bufo bufo||April – July|
|Natterjack toad||Epidalea calamita||April – July|
|Arizona toad||Anaxyrus microscaphus||February – April|
|Southern toad||Anaxyrus terrestris||March – October|
|Colorado River toad||Incilius alvarius||May – July|
|Wyoming toad||Anaxyrus baxteri||May – July|
|Eastern spadefoot toad||Scaphiopus holbrookii||March – July|
|Western spadefoot toad||Spea hammondii||January – June|
|North American green toad||Anaxyrus debilis||March – August|
|Red-spotted toad||Anaxyrus punctatus||March – September|
|Houston toad||Anaxyrus houstonensis||January – June|
|Eastern narrow-mouthed toad||Gastrophryne carolinensis||April – October|
|Yosemite toad||Anaxyrus canorus||May – July|
|Woodhouse’s toad||Anaxyrus woodhousii||March – July|
|Oak toad||Anaxyrus quercicus||April – October|
|Arroyo toad||Anaxyrus californicus||March – July|
|Sonoran green toad||Anaxyrus retiformis||July – August|
|Great Plains narrow-mouthed toad||Gastrophryne olivacea||March – September|
|Coastal plains toad||Incilius nebulifer||March – September|
|Great Basin Spadefoot||Spea intermontana||May – August|
When Frog Mate Is Mainly Influenced By Environmental Conditions
Frogs mate during specific times of the year. For most frogs, reproduction is largely stimulated by rainfall and warmer temperatures.
Some frog species such as Wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) migrate to their breeding sites, on the first few rainy nights in early spring when the night temperature is above 40 degrees. This mass migration is often referred to as “the big night”.
During this mass migration, frogs can travel significant distances, sometimes up to half a mile, to reach their breeding sites.
That said, it’s important to note that frogs in some locations may lay eggs earlier than those in other locations due to differences in latitude/climate.
For example, Wood frogs in Alabama may begin mating as early as January–February, but those in Wisconsin do not begin their breeding season until April–May.
In Illinois northern cricket frogs (Acris crepitans) start breeding calls between late April and early May, and continue calling through July- and in Iowa, they are heard from mid-May through July.
However, in the Southern part of their range, (e.g., Texas, Louisiana), they may breed year round to due a more favorable climate.
American bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus) in Texas breed from March–October, but those in Québec breed from late May to mid-July.
Other Factors That Influence The Breeding Season Of Frogs
Some frog species generally reproduce earlier, or later in the year than others. For example, wood frogs and spring peepers are often some of the first frogs to begin the breeding season after winter hibernation.
They may begin breeding before the snow is completely gone, and when their breeding ponds are still partly frozen.
2. Availability Of Food
Following heavy rains, snails & slugs come out, and lots of earthworms come to the surface.
In addition, many insects such as flies, locusts, and grasshoppers are plentiful in the warm temperatures of spring or summer.
This increased availability of food means frogs can come out a breed, without the risk of starvation.
How Many Times Per Year Do Frogs Mate?
Most frogs only mate once per year. During a single mating season, some frogs can mate with multiple mates.
For example, in gray foam-nest tree frogs (Chiromantis xerampelina) of southern Africa, over 90% of females mate with ten or more males in the production of a single clutch.
Male common midwife toads (Alytes obstetricans) often mate with multiple females, and can carry up to three clutches of eggs at a time.
Do Frogs Mate In The Winter?
Frogs and toads are cold-blooded (ectothermic), animals, which means they cannot generate their own body heat, and their body temperatures take on the temperature of the environment around them.
When it’s warm, their bodies soak up the heat, and their body temperature rises. When it’s cooler, their body temperature falls.
Frogs generally do not mate in their winter because the cold winter temperatures and other environmental conditions are not conducive for them to breed.
During the winter, frogs migrate to overwintering sites that insulate and protect them from the cold.
Terrestrial frogs may overwinter:
- In leaf litter, compost heaps
- Inside hollow logs, cracks in logs, rotting wood
- In caves, rock crevices, and cracks in the foundations of old buildings
- Under rocks, logs, piles of rubble, paving slabs, and other objects
Many terrestrial frogs will also overwinter in underground burrows below the frost line– often in natural holes or abandoned small mammal burrows.
Frogs that spend most of their time in or near water (such as leopard frogs) will typically hibernate underwater.
However, not just any pond will do, the pond needs to be deep enough so it does not freeze all the to the bottom. It also needs to have lots of dissolved oxygen so the frog can efficiently breathe underwater all winter long.
Unlike many animals that hibernate underwater, frogs do not dig into the mud at the bottom of ponds or streams. Since they breathe entirely through their skin during underwater hibernation, they would suffocate if they were dug into the mud for an extended period.
Hibernating frogs must be near oxygen-rich water and spend a good portion of the winter just lying on top of the mud or only partially buried. They may even slowly swim around from time to time.
Featured image credit: : Connecticutbirder (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Phillip G. Byrne, Martin J. Whiting, Effects of simultaneous polyandry on offspring fitness in an African tree frog, Behavioral Ecology, Volume 22, Issue 2, March-April 2011, Pages 385–391, https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arq153
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