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New Jersey Endangered and Threatened Species Field Guide

Image of Carpenter frog.Zoom+ Carpenter frog. Image courtesy of Flickr user Mike VanValen.

Carpenter frog

Lithobates virgatipes

Species Group: Amphibian

Conservation Status

State: Special Concern



Carpenter frogs get their name from the call they make which sounds like a carpenter hammering. This frog is a medium sized frog ranging from 4.1 to 6.7cm. The color of the species is entirely brown with four yellowish stripes that run down the back and sides of the frog. The tail is grayish with large spots. The underbelly of the frog is usually a white to yellow color.

This species’ most unique feature is that the webbing on its feet does not reach the tip of the longest toe. The carpenter frog is often confused with other similar species; however the webbing is the best way to tell them apart. Carpenter frogs are equipped with paired throat pouches that are spherical when inflated. This species is a nocturnal animal, which is often heard but not seen.

Image of Range of the carpenter frog in New Jersey.Zoom+ Range of the carpenter frog in New Jersey.


This species is found in the Atlantic Coastal Plain ranging from the New Jersey Pine Barrens to southern Georgia. Within New Jersey, they are found in most of the southern half of the state except parts of Salem, Camden, Gloucester, and Cape May Counties. They are exceptionally aquatic frogs, barely wandering on land. They like tea colored, still water with an abundance of aquatic vegetation. These habitats include pine savanna ponds, cypress ponds, swales, sphagnum bogs, and acid swamps because they have adapted to high acidic levels in water.


Adult carpenter frogs eat crayfish, spiders, and other invertebrates, while their tadpoles eat algae, plant tissue, organic matter, and possibly very small invertebrates.


The carpenter frog’s breeding period is from April to August. The female lays about 200-600 eggs at a time. The egg masses are usually attached to underwater vegetation. The larvae develop in pools. The tadpoles take about a year to develop and grow to about 3.5 inches. More developed tadpoles have a distinct line in their dorsal tail fin.


Although the carpenter frog can be found throughout southern New Jersey, their population has been declining and needs to be monitored. The greatest threat to this species is loss or destruction of habitat. Due to population declines and habitat loss, the carpenter frog was listed as a species of special concern in New Jersey.


The New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program would like for individuals to report their sightings of carpenter frogs. Record the date, time, location, and condition of the animal and submit the information by submitting a Sighting Report Form. The information will be entered into the state’s natural heritage program, commonly referred to as Biotics. Biologists map the sighting and the resulting maps allow state, county, municipal, and private agencies to identify important wildlife habitats and protect them in a variety of ways. This information is used to regulate land-use within the state and assists in preserving endangered and threatened species habitat remaining in New Jersey.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
       Class: Amphibia
          Order: Anura
             Family: Ranidae
                Genus: Lithobates
                   Species: L. virgatipes

Find Related Info: Special concern, Amphibians

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Download the complete list of New Jersey's Endangered, Threatened, & Special Concern species.