Skip to Main Content

Frog Friday: Carpenter Frog

An image of a carpenter frog

Carpenter frog © John Bunnell

The Carpenter Frog is a medium sized frog found in the Coastal Plain of Virginia.  The frog gets its name from the “pu-tunk, pu-tunk, pu-tunk” call that it makes resembling that of a carpenter pounding nails with a hammer.  With modern, pneumatic nail-guns and prefabricated walls, the traditional sound of multiple hammers and nails on a construction site may not be as familiar as it once was.  The scientific/Latin name Lithobates virgatipes meaning “stone that walks” and “striped foot,” respectively, may be more descriptive and appropriate.

The Carpenter frog is a medium sized frog ranging in size from 1.5 to 2.5 inches in length with a narrow head and four yellowish or golden brown longitudinal stripes on the back and the thigh has alternating light and dark stripes.  The belly is yellow with dark brown or black spots.  These markings and coloration give this frog excellent camouflage and make it very difficult to detect in its native habitat.

An inhabitant of the Coastal Plain, it can be found in habitats with very still water and an abundance of aquatic vegetation.  These wetlands are typically fairly acidic and often “coffee” colored.  Often these wetlands are surrounded by sandy pine forests and contain sphagunum moss.  In fact, the frog is sometimes referred to as the Sphagnum Frog.  A few examples of these nutrient-poor wetlands include: cypress ponds, interdunal swales, and tupelo-gum swamps.

Breeding starts in April and occurs through August.  Females can deposit up to 600 eggs in a jelly-like mass.  The tadpoles take a full year to metamorphose into the adult.

  • July 17, 2015