Recognized Subspecies in VA: None
Size: .75 - 1.5 inches
Range: Piedmont and western Coastal Plain
Status: Least Concern
This frog is a beacon of light to me as a herper. When winter has been cold, and herping has been very slow, I tend to get "down in the dumps". I just want to do some herping! Then one night in January or February, we get a night in the low 60's, and it has rained all day. This is when I just go out road cruising. There are always American Toads, and then Chorus Frogs begin appearing. Several get out of the road before I can get an identifying look at them, but when I do, most of them are Spring Peepers. Then at last, I get out of the car and get eyes on an Upland Chorus Frog, and it tells me herping is about to come to life again. The worst of my seasonal depression ends when I see my first Upland Chorus Frog.
These small frogs spend most of the year in the leaf litter, only emerging in numbers in January to February on warm, wet nights to find breeding grounds. They prefer vernal pools in fields, but often breed in puddles, ruts, and ditches. This is a species that has noted drastic decline in years past, though it seems to be overlooked. These declines are thought to be due to habitat alteration, though I am not as sure that that is the only factor. I often find this species in low areas of fields, often too wet for farmers to alter, or in ruts left by logging trucks in cutovers. To me, the only alterations that seem to affect these tiny frogs is building housing developments or damming rivers. This would not account for the decline in rural areas, so I feel a deeper dive into this species is necessary before it is too late. What can you do? You can help by using iNaturalist to record when and where these frogs are calling or being seen. This gives us a feel for the current distribution to compare to past and future records.
I often find this species by road cruising in appropriate conditions, or by seeking out calling males in (often roadside) puddles, ditches, and ruts where there are limited grasses. This species does love grassy waters, but finding them in a grassy labyrinth is very difficult. This species will hide under leaves, and I have even found them under acorn caps.
Similar Species: Cricket Frogs are often mistaken for all members of this genus, but these genera are quite different as you can read by clicking the button below. Other Chorus Frogs can also be similar, such as Brimley's Chorus Frog which has more clean, unified lines. The New Jersey Chorus Frog is almost identical, but New Jerseys are only found on the Eastern Shore, where Uplands are not found. Southern Chorus Frogs are only found in one small area of the state (Tidewater). Southerns have a rougher texture and "blobby" lines.
Call sounds like someone running their finger up a comb.
Color and Teperature
To highlight the the camouflage skills of this species, check out the photos above. The left photo (above on mobile) is from when this frog was first pulled out of the cold water. We then put the frog in a plastic container, set a light on top, and left it in the warm car for about 15 minutes. Then we staged the frog on the side of the pool for the photo on the right (bottom on mobile). These drastic color swings are typical of almost all Chorus Frogs, and one should take this into account when trying to ID these species.
Maps and External Sources
Herping Virginia encourages all naturalists to practice ethical, safe, and sustainable herping. The use of proper herping methods and techniques is beneficial to both wildlife and herpers. Visit the links below for more information.