When Do Frogs Mate?

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.

For example, Cuban tree frogs in most of Florida breed predominately in the spring and summer months – but in the southern part of the state, they can breed year-round following heavy rains.

Below is a table that shows approximately when 22 frog species mate: 

Frog Species
Scientific Name 
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: 

Frog Species
Scientific Name
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: 

Frog Species
Scientific Name
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.

Warm spring or summer rain creates puddles, floods ditches, and fills permanent and temporary pools where frogs can lay their eggs, and their tadpoles can develop.

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”.

Wood frogs migrate to their breeding sites, on the first few rainy nights in early spring

Wood frogs have a cryptic coloration
Wood frogs migrate to their breeding sites on the first few rainy nights in early spring.

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

1. Species

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.

Southern leopard frogs can lay their eggs in brackish water
Southern leopard frog.

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)


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