The photo gallery at the bottom of the page provides information about common species of frogs and toads in Illinois. Additionally, the Prairie Research Institute’s Illinois Natural History Survey has an Illinois Species page to help people figure out what species of frog or toad they have found. If you don’t know what the species is, click on the text to work through the key. If you see a photo that looks like the species you saw, then you can click on the photo to get information about that particular species.
The IDNR’s Illinois Frogs and Toads Part 1 and Part 2 videos provide information about each species and their habitats and ecology.
Frogs and toads can encounter a number of hazardous situations in Illinois’ human-dominated landscapes. They may be mauled by domestic pets, mishandled by curious children and adults, fall into window wells, or become trapped in or around buildings. The moist skin of a trapped frog or toad will dry out and the animal will die if it cannot get to an environment with high humidity. Additionally, many frogs and toads are crushed by vehicles when they cross roads, especially when moving to and from breeding ponds.
Some frogs, especially bullfrogs and green frogs, will find and take up temporary residence around ornamental backyard ponds. While they generally do no harm, bullfrogs occasionally become a nuisance when they catch and eat small koi, goldfish, or other fish stocked by the pond owner. Erecting a small fence or landscaping wall at least 1½ feet tall will reduce the likelihood of bullfrogs entering these ponds.
Toads can be found in shallow burrows around building foundations and in flower pots and planters. Treefrogs often find shelter in wood piles and feed on insects while clinging to windows and siding. In most cases, frogs or toads do not need to be removed and will move on by themselves.
Rescuing Frogs or Toads
If a rescue is needed, frogs and toads can be covered gently with a moist cloth, grasped gently with your hand, and placed in a container. Frogs and toads can be rescued from deep window wells by hand or by placing a board into the window well so that the frog or toad can climb out. Alternatively, place some moist leaves in a small pail and tie the pail to a long string. The pail can be lowered into the window well and positioned to lie on its side. Once the animal crawls into the pail and settles under the leaves, the pail can be raised up by pulling the string. Window well covers should be installed to prevent children or animals from accidentally falling into window wells.
Frogs or toads should not be moved from one area to another. If you are creating amphibian habitat on your property, allow what is there naturally to inhabit your new amphibian habitat. Bullfrogs are especially carnivorous and when moved to an area, they will outcompete all the other frogs and toads until the bullfrogs are the only species remaining.
None of Illinois’ frogs and toads bite when handled, but the skin secretions of toads and treefrogs may irritate human eyes, nose, or mouth if contact is made. Pets may experience nausea if they mouth or ingest a toad or frog. Always wash hands with hot water and soap for 20 seconds if a frog or toad is handled.
If you have questions about reptiles or amphibians in Illinois, you can contact Scott Ballard, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Southern Region Endangered and Threatened Recovery Species Specialist/Herpetologist, at: Scott.Ballard@illinois.gov or 618-694-3398.