Frogs have many spectacular abilities: hopping, crawling, swimming, and burrowing. Some frogs are also very skilled climbers!
From boulders and trees to logs and even the sides of canyons, frogs can climb almost anything!
Some frogs can even climb walls – even if those walls are made of glass. Others require a rougher surface to gain purchase and make their ascent.
Not all are vertically gifted, but there are quite a few frogs that can climb walls!
There are many kinds of frogs that can climb walls. Various tree frogs, including spring peepers, grey tree frogs, American tree frogs, reed frogs, whistling frogs, mossy frogs, and many others can climb walls. The Malabar tree toad can also climb walls, as can poison dart frogs and fire-bellied toads.
Most frogs rely on sticky toes or skin to climb, but some are able to climb rough surfaces using their grip strength alone!
Before we talk about all the different kinds of frogs that can climb walls, let’s learn more about how frogs are able to climb in the first place, and why they might feel the need to scale a wall.
How Do Frogs Climb Walls?
Frogs that can climb walls are apparent masters of gravity – but how do they do it?
A big reason that some frogs can climb walls is the structure of their toes! Some frogs – like tree frogs – have expanded fingertips that essentially act like little suction cups that enable the frogs to climb nearly any surface.
Scientists scanned the toes of White’s tree frogs using an atomic force microscope. They found that the frogs’ toes are covered with tiny pillar-like structures that aren’t visible to the naked eye. Each pillar has a small indentation in the end, which creates friction with the surfaces that the frogs walk or climb on.
Between the pillars are grooves filled with mucus. The mucus acts as an adhesive, enabling the frog’s toe pads to stick to the surface that they are climbing.
The mucus is most effective on smooth surfaces. On dry, rough surfaces, the frog needs more mucus to create a layer of adhesive. Frogs cannot produce that much mucus, so they struggle to climb these surfaces. If a rough surface is moistened, the frog can climb more easily.
Sticky toes aren’t the only adaptations that make frogs adept at climbing. Some frogs that can climb walls rely on claw-like fingers or full-body stickiness!
Why Do Frogs Climb Walls?
Frogs that climb walls of buildings may do so for several reasons. For one, they could be looking for warmth. As ectotherms, frogs are cold-blooded creatures. They cannot regulate their own body temperature and must rely on their environment to warm up or cool down.
For example, in Florida, frogs climb the walls of houses to reach the warm shingles on the roof. Unfortunately, many frogs get lost on their journeys to roofs and end up inside homes!
Another reason that frogs climb walls is that they are searching for tasty bugs to eat. When the weather is warm, bugs are inevitably attracted to the lights emitted from porchlights or windows.
Frogs that climb walls may also be in search of humidity, attracted to the water dripping from pipes or gutters. As amphibians, frogs require humidity to keep their skin moist. Frogs have highly permeable skin that they can breathe and drink through. If their skin dries out, these processes are impaired and the frogs risk drying out entirely.
Lastly, some frogs that climb walls may also be seeking high ground to perform mating calls. Rain gutters act as amplifiers; frogs may climb walls to sing from the gutters. Calls made from gutters or storm drains are substantially louder than those that are not!
Frogs That Can Climb Walls
Now that we’ve talked a little bit about how and why frogs scale vertical surfaces, let’s learn about some frogs that can climb walls!
1. White’s Tree Frog
Also known as the dumpy tree frog or Australian green tree frog, the White’s tree frog is native to Australia and New Guinea. These popular pet frogs are typically a shade of green or light blue, and their massive sticky toe pads enable them to stick to almost any surface.
White tree frogs prefer to live in moist environments. If they get too dry, they will secrete a substance called caerviein, effectively cocooning themselves to prevent desiccation. During the hottest months of the year, these frogs are frequently found inside homes looking for moisture.
2. Spring Peeper
Spring peepers are only about 1 inch (2.5 cm) long and are common in the United States and Canada. While they are skilled climbers thanks to their large toe pads, these little frogs usually hang out on the ground during the day, buried under leaf litter.
3. Grey Tree Frog
Native to the eastern United States, grey tree frogs can be grey, green, brown, or somewhere in between.
Like other tree frogs, this species possesses enlarged, sticky fingertips that allow them to climb walls and trees. When huddling motionless on a tree, their bumpy texture and mottled pattern cause them to look almost exactly like lichen!
4. Wright’s Mountain Tree Frog
As you may have guessed, the Wright’s mountain tree frog lives at high elevations. Also known as the Arizona tree frog, this frog is found near mountain streams in Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico.
These frogs don’t get much larger than 2 inches (5 cm) long. Although they may be tiny, they are mighty! Their wide finger-and-toe tips make them very skilled climbers. They have been found as high as 75 feet (23 meters) up in trees!
5. American Green Tree Frog
The American green tree frog’s bright green, smooth skin allows it to blend in amongst the leaves of the trees it inhabits. It has a distinct white stripe along its lower lip. Thanks to its large toe pads, It spends most of its time in trees but is also often found scaling the walls of buildings throughout its range in the central and eastern United States.
6. White-Lipped Tree Frog
The white-lipped tree frog is also known as the Australian giant tree frog, and for good reason! This species is the largest tree frog in the world, reaching a whopping 5.5 inches (14 cm) long.
Like the American green tree frog, the white-lipped tree frog is also green with a white stripe on its lower lip. In addition to the finger/toe pads that enable this large frog to defy gravity, it also has fully webbed toes!
7. Squirrel Tree Frog
Next on our list of frogs that can climb walls is the squirrel tree frog. These frogs closely resemble the American green tree frog, but the squirrel tree frog typically has a darker eardrum and more varied coloration.
Squirrel tree frogs are native to the southeastern United States and are commonly sighted in the evenings on lamp posts or on the walls of buildings near windows, catching bugs that are attracted to the light, as the frog does in the video above!
8. Cuban Tree Frog
The largest tree frog in the United States, the invasive Cuban tree frog is native to Cuba, the Cayman Islands, and the Bahamas. After being introduced to Florida, the 3-inch (7.6-cm) frogs spread throughout the southeastern US.
These frogs have bumpy skin and are often brown, but they can also be various shades of grey or green. Their toe pads are exceptionally wide, making them great climbers, and they are commonly found on the sides of buildings.
9. Barking Tree Frog
The barking tree frog is common in North Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. It can be vibrant green or brown, but it is easily distinguished by the circular markings on its back and its large, webbed feet. Its wide toes and toe pads make this frog well-suited to life in the trees!
While they only reach a length of about 2.6 inches (6.7 cm), these frogs are on the heavier side, which makes their gravity-defying feats even more wonderous.
Juvenile barking tree frogs hang out near the ground, while adults stick to the trees. During the breeding season, males jump into the water from overhanging branches!
10. Pacific Tree Frog
Another example of frogs that can climb walls is the Pacific tree frog. Found on the west coast of the United States and the southwest corner of Canada, these frogs are identified by the bold, dark line running from the tip of their nose to their shoulder, contrasting beautifully against their green, brown, or red bodies.
These frogs also possess large toe pads that enable them to climb trees and walls with ease! However, they usually stay near the ground.
11. Reed Frog
Frogs that can climb walls are found all over the world! The common reed frog is found in southern Africa, as well as Madagascar. These adorable little frogs get just over 1 inch (2.5 cm) long, with females being larger than males.
While they are only semi-arboreal, they are excellent climbers due to their padded toes. Their toes are also webbed, making them great swimmers as well!
12. Pine Woods Tree Frog
Pine woods tree frogs get their name from the pine forests they often inhabit in the southeastern United States. They are typically reddish brown or grey, with dark splotches on their back.
These frogs have quite the reputation – they are known to climb to the tops of the tallest trees! They also announce the arrival of hurricane weather, falling silent before the storms hit.
13. Canyon Tree Frog
Canyon tree frogs are found in rocky areas of the southern United States and Mexico. Their large, sticky toe pads make them excellent climbers! They use those sticky feet to climb boulders and canyon walls, and they are often found perched on large rocks.
Only getting to be about 2 inches (5 cm) long, these little frogs can be various shades of brown or green depending on their environment, but they can appear a beautiful bright gold in the sun.
14. Bird-Voiced Tree Frog
The bird-voiced tree frog earns its name from the rapid, high-pitched call that resembles a bird’s song, which you can hear in the video above, and it is next on our list of frogs that can climb walls. These frogs are found in the wetlands of the southeastern United States.
These frogs are typically grey with a mottled pattern, but they can also be brown or green. While bird-voiced tree frogs are considered arboreal, female frogs tend to stick close to the ground. Males climb higher up into the trees to sing their song, preferring perches above the water.
15. Waxy Monkey Frog
The waxy monkey frog is a chunky amphibian with ridges above its eyes, similar to the dumpy tree frog. In addition to sticky toe pads, this frog has long opposable fingers that it uses to grip tree branches. Waxy monkey frogs can also climb walls, and captive specimens are often seen climbing the glass walls of their enclosure.
These calm, laid-back frogs love to bask in the sun! To protect themselves from the powerful solar rays, they produce a waxy secretion that acts as a natural sunscreen. Waxy monkey frogs then use their long, flexible back legs to slather their sunscreen all over their bodies.
16. Baja California Tree Frog
Native to California and Nevada, the Baja California tree frog is an adaptable little frog that can be found in just about any kind of habitat!
Like other tree frogs, the Baja California tree frog has round pads on its toes that enable it to climb trees or walls. Its smooth skin can be green, grey, brown, or even red! These frogs have a wide, dark brown stripe that extends from their nostrils to their shoulders, and they often have distinct Y-shape markings between their eyes.
17. Alpine Tree Frog
While the Alpine tree frog – also known as the whistling tree frog – has smaller finger pads than many of the other frogs on this list, they are frogs that can climb walls. This species is native to southeast Australia, where they breed all year round!
These frogs come in various shades of green or brown, with longitudinal strips running along their sides. Their most distinctive feature is the bright orange on their inner thighs!
18. Whistling Frog
The whistling frog is a fun-sized amphibian from the Caribbean islands, reaching a maximum of 1 inch (2.5 cm) long! These itty-bitty frogs have pads at the end of their slender fingers and toes allowing them to climb a variety of surfaces, including glass.
One fun fact about whistling frog is that it does not have a tadpole stage. When the little white eggs hatch, fully formed froglets crawl out!
19. Dainty Green Tree Frog
An Australian native, the dainty green tree frog is another frog that can climb walls thanks to its large toe pads. This frog is a brilliant green with a yellow underbelly, but the backs of its thighs are purple! It has bright orange eyes that resemble those of the red-eyed tree frog, which you can see in the video above.
20. Vietnamese Mossy Frog
Mossy frogs’ bumpy skin along with their mottled green-and-brown coloration make them look exactly like clumps of moss!
This species is great at climbing. They cling to the walls of caves to perfect their mossy disguise. When a mossy frog feels threatened, it lets go of the wall, curling into a ball and dropping into the water to escape.
21. Malabar Tree Toad
While toads don’t usually dwell in trees, the Malabar tree toad – also known as the Asian tree toad – is an exception! Like most toads, this species is brown in color with warty skin.
Like tree frogs, the Malabar tree toad has enlarged pads on its fingers and toes that enable it to live an arboreal lifestyle. This isn’t the only trait that these toads share with frogs: they lay their eggs in clumps rather than in strings like other toads.
22. Green And Golden Bell Frog
The green and golden bell frog is distinguished by its unique green and brownish-gold pattern on its back – although it may be solid brown or green. Reaching a length of up to 3.4 inches (8.5 cm), this medium-sized species is native to eastern Australia.
Like the other frogs that can climb walls, the green and golden bell frog has disks at the end of its fingers and toes that enable it to climb. While it made our list of frogs that can climb walls, this species prefers to stay grounded.
23. Poison Dart Frogs
While they aren’t tree frogs, some species of poison dart frogs are semi-arboreal and love to climb. They don’t have large toe pads like many of the other frogs that can climb walls, but they do have sticky toes!
24. Fire-Bellied Toad
The last species on our list of frogs that can climb walls is the fire-bellied toad. Despite their name, they are not considered true toads! Another surprising fact is that they don’t have sticky feet. So how do they climb walls?
Fire-bellied toads have skin that can be pretty sticky, especially when the frog is partially dry. This enables them to get enough purchase on vertical surfaces to climb. These frogs are popular pets, and their owners often notice them scaling the glass walls of their enclosures. A tight-fitting lid is key!
Can Other Toads Climb Walls?
Unfortunately, most toads do not possess the adaptations necessary to scale smooth vertical surfaces. However, some toads can gain enough purchase on rough surfaces, like a tree or brick wall, to climb!
They don’t have sticky feet like tree frogs or sticky skin like the fire-bellied toad. So how do they do it?
American and European toads have been spotted using their claw-like fingers to grip small cracks or protrusions in vertical surfaces, enabling them to defy gravity and reach places where we wouldn’t expect to find them – like a bird nest!
Frogs have many natural talents and abilities that enable them to survive and thrive in their environment. As you have learned, there are quite a few frogs that can climb walls – and this list is just scratching the surface!
If you see a frog climbing the wall of a building, it is best to leave it be. It is likely on a very important mission.
However, if you find a frog clinging to the wall inside your home, you should gently relocate it to a tree outside. Avoid touching the frog with your bare hands. While some frogs produce toxins that can irritate human skin, the natural oils on our hands can harm them, too.
Now that you know more about frogs that climb walls – and how they do it – you hopefully have a new appreciation and understanding of these tiny masters of gravity!