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Have you heard the Mountain Chorus Frog? Researchers are learning more about this Appalachian springtime animal

 A small greenish-grey frog looks into the camera. Its perched on a brown, dried leaf, poised as if ready to spring into action. Green grass grass pokes out from the edges of the leaf.
Wally Smith
Mountain Chorus Frog

Scientists are discovering that a species of frog in southern Appalachia, called the Mountain Chorus Frog, may be more widespread across southwest Virginia than previously thought.

If you’ve been in the mountains of southwest Virginia or West Virginia on a springtime evening, you may know the shrill chirping sound of spring peepers. A close cousin of these frogs is the mountain chorus frog.

“The mountain chorus frog kind of sounds like a spring peeper with a cold,” said Wally Smith, an associate professor at UVA Wise.

“A lot of people think that it sounds like a squeaky wagon wheel that needs a little bit of grease.”

Smith and Kevin Hamed at Virginia Tech have been working on a project the past four years, learning more about where Mountain Chorus Frogs live. They’re asking citizen scientists to report sightings of the frogs, and so far, they’ve heard from people from Blacksburg to Lee County. Before the study, Smith said scientists knew they existed in only about 14 locations in Virginia. Now they know of hundreds.
“We’ve been blown away,” Smith said. “It turns out that people have been hearing these frogs their whole lives, but didn’t know what species it was.”

Mountain Chorus Frogs are currently listed as a species of high conservation concern in Virginia, and other states across southern Appalachia.

Smith says more research is needed, but so far, he’s optimistic these little frogs could be more widespread than scientists previously thought.

Smith said Mountain Chorus Frogs are brown or grey, and the size of a ping pong ball. They can be heard from March until mid-June.

If you hear or see what you think might be a Mountain Chorus Frog, send Smith and his team a photo or an audio recording:

Wally Smith whs2q@uvawise.edu Kevin Hamed khamed@vt.edu

You can learn more about their study on their website.


Roxy Todd is Radio IQ's New River Valley Bureau Chief.