Poisonous Frogs in Texas: How to ID and Avoid Them

Are frogs poisonous to dogs or cats- Pickerel frog
Matt Jeppson/Shutterstock.com

Written by Taiwo Victor

Published: August 31, 2022

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When we think about poisonous frogs, the first ones to surely come up are the varied species of the colorful poison dart frog. These highly poisonous and fatal frogs are one of the most dangerous threats in rainforests. Luckily for Texans, while the Lone Star State hosts a wide variety of frogs, none of them is the deadly poison dart frog. But are there actually poisonous frogs in Texas? 

About 44 different species of frogs inhabit Texas’ various ecosystems. While some native species can be found in nearby states and Mexico, most are in Texas. Due to its unique ecosystem, it is the perfect place for various amphibians that live on land and in water. Texas is also home to 12 varieties of tree frogs. These frogs generally have brilliant colors, which sets them apart from their rather bland terrestrial counterparts as excellent zoo exhibits. Fortunately, while the Lone Star State hosts over 40 frog species, only one of them is poisonous. Below, we will talk about the only poisonous frog in Texas, how to identify and avoid them, and more.

Are There Poisonous Frogs in Texas?

Pickerel Frog

The pickerel frog is the only poisonous frog in Texas.

In Texas, there are two frog-like amphibians you should be aware of: the cane toad and the pickerel frog. However, cane toads differ from frogs; they cannot be classed as true frogs, leaving us with only one poisonous frog species. The only poisonous frog native to Texas is the pickerel frog, and they are the only natural toxic frog in the entire United States. When assaulted, they release poisonous skin irritants that can kill other animals and, if handled, can irritate human skin. Unlike the notoriously poisonous dart frog equipped with many vibrant colors, pickerel frogs may look like ordinary frogs, making them more dangerous.

What Are Pickerel Frogs?

The pickerel frog is a diminutive North American frog with squares on its dorsal surface that look “hand-drawn.” The fish for which it is frequently used as bait inspired the name of the pickerel frog.

Appearance: ID Guide

A pickerel frog is a medium-sized gray or tan frog with seven to twenty-one asymmetrical rectangular dark brown spots arranged in two columns down its back. It has smooth, brown skin frequently colored brightly yellow or orange in the groin region. When attempting to flee from predators, these flashing colors are used. Adult pickerel frog can reach lengths of approximately 3.5 inches. Typically, females are larger than males. Male pickerel frogs can be identified by their paired vocal sacs, strong forearms, and enlarged thumbs.

This species makes soft nasal snoring that sounds much like a cow mooing. In surveys of frog calls, the call is frequently overlooked since it does not travel very far. This frog occasionally cries from underwater, which adds to the difficulty.


The pickerel frog inhabits a large portion of Wisconsin, eastern Iowa, southeast MinnesotaMissouri, and eastern Texas in the west. Most of Mississippi, northern Louisiana, northern Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina are all included in their easternmost reach, which ends at the coast.

Although pickerel frogs can thrive in various environments, the northern species prefers to be close to frigid, clear water. They can be found near thickly wooded lakes and rivers but prefer rocky ravines, bogs, and meadow streams. In particular, springs, cold seepages, ponds and streams with consistent water temperatures are where they can be found. These frogs can even be found living in caverns in various areas of the country. This species uses caves as a thermal refugium during the coldest months when it is practical. They overwinter in the bottom of ponds or other water bodies and spend the summer feeding away from water in fields and meadows.


Pickerel frogs include insects and snails in their diet.

The pickerel frog consumes a range of insects and small crayfish, snails, and other aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates. Its typical diet consists of bugs, beetles, ants, spiders, and sawfly larvae. Pickerel frogs frequently hunt grassy regions adjacent to bodies of water for their prey.


Despite being the only poisonous frog in Texas and other parts of the United States, pickerel frogs are not exactly deadly to humans. They can only be harmful to pets and other predators. They have a fantastic defense system in case of attack: they release skin secretions that are irritating to people and harmful to some predators.

Because of its venom, most mammals, birds, snakes, and other frogs will avoid the pickerel frog. The pickerel frog’s normal predators, including bullfrogs, green frogs, eastern ribbon snakes, northern water snakes, and common garter snakes, are not immune to its toxic secretions. Pickerel frogs will dive to the bottom of the pond when attacked to avoid being eaten by birds and snakes.

Are Pickerel Frogs Dangerous to Humans and Pets?

Are frogs poisonous to dogs or cats- Pickerel frog

Despite being the only poisonous frog in Texas and other parts of the United States, pickerel frogs are not exactly deadly to humans.

In addition to being toxic to other frogs, the skin secretions of stressed pickerel frogs can be somewhat unpleasant if they come into contact with the eyes, mucous membranes, or broken skin. These secretions are unpleasant or lethal to many species, including cats and dogs, even though they frequently only cause minor skin irritation in humans. If eaten, your dog or cat will typically vomit it back up because it is too slimy. Though it’s more likely that your pet will carry on with their daily activities as usual, they may have diarrhea or some other symptoms. Nevertheless, most symptoms do not result in death.

How to Avoid Pickerel Frogs?

Although pickerel frogs contain and secrete toxins when threatened, they don’t usually cause further or more serious harm to humans. If you want to avoid their toxic secretions, you might want to stay away and refrain from touching or handling them. 

Pickerel frogs can even be pets, but ensure that you can take good care of them first. A 10-gallon tank is typically adequate for one frog. Due to the semi-aquatic nature of this species, both land and water should be present in the tank. Pickerel frogs shouldn’t ever be housed in the same tank as other frogs since their toxic skin secretion quickly eliminates any other species.

Up Next:

26 Extinct Types of Frogs!

8 Poisonous Toads in Texas

Are Frogs Poisonous To Dogs or Cats?

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About the Author

For six years, I have worked as a professional writer and editor for books, blogs, and websites, with a particular focus on animals, tech, and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with friends.

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