Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Mimic Frog Calls


Carolyn Nixon



There are 21 species of frogs and toads in Illinois, and each has its own unique song or call.  You can listen to recordings of these calls on a CD or the Internet.  Many people learn to identify frogs in the field by their calls.  Some frog and toad calls can be mimicked by humans, either by voice or by some mechanical device.  Here are some you can try.  First listen to a recording of the frog or toad and see how closely you can copy it.


Western chorus frog and upland chorus frog—run a finger over the teeth of a comb.  The harder plastic combs make a more chorus froglike sounds than a softer nylon, although either type will work.



Cricket frog—click two marbles together quickly.  Holding them in one hand and quickly clicking them by moving your fingers in and out works very well. 

Make the marbles both click and scrape against each other.


Northern leopard frog—rub a wet hand over an inflated balloon to make it squeak.


Wood frog—quickly move wet finger tips over the surface of a wet balloon, much like a person picking a banjo or guitar.


peeper.jpgSpring peeper—scrape a finger nail or a piece of chalk on a blackboard until it squeaks to mimic a single frog, or shake a string of sleigh bells to sound like a group of spring peepers.




Green frog—stretch a rubber band across a hole cut in the top of a cardboard box.  First attach the rubber band to one end of the box by hooking it over a pushpin. Pluck the rubber band like a banjo string.  You can vary the sound by stretching or relaxing the rubber band or by using different thicknesses of rubber bands.



American toad—make a trilling sound with your voice and your tongue.


Listen to the recordings as you are trying to mimic them, and make adjustments to try to match them more closely.  Also, listen to other frog and toad calls and try to find ways to copy their songs as well.



“The Naturalist’s Apprentice” presents educational activities for middle school students. Teachers are invited to
photocopy this page for classroom use.

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