Why Frogs Croak

Frog croaking on a rock with an inflated vocal sac.
The throat of a frog usually expands when a frog croaks.

Getty Images/kristianbell

Most animals make a noise that is different from other species. Dogs bark, cats meow, guinea pigs wheek, and frogs croak. These sounds are made to communicate a variety of things, but it can be confusing to know exactly what these sounds mean if you aren't of the same species. Find out why pet frogs croak and what they are trying to say.

What Is Croaking in Frogs?

Croaking is one of the most common noises a frog makes. It is a natural sound that frogs produce, thanks to their anatomy. Frogs have vocal cords that are similar to what people have, but they also have a vocal sac that can amplify the vibrations from the vocal cords. As air moves back and forth between the lungs and the vocal sac, the vocal cords cause the air to vibrate and produce the croaking sound that we hear. When a frog croaks, the throat or sides of the mouth will expand, but its mouth won't open. It will sit still and appear to stare off while making the croaking noise. Depending on the type of frog, this croaking sound can be heard over a mile away, especially if there is a chorus of frogs instead of just one.

Why Do Frogs Croak?

The main reason why a frog croaks is to attract a mate. Male frogs croak to get the attention of a female frog, even if they don't see or hear one.

Croaking is an innate behavior and is especially common during a frog's mating season in the spring after it rains. This is because after a good springtime rain, the conditions are ideal for females to lay their eggs. Croaking can then be heard by wild frogs after this rain, and if your pet frog is exposed to similar conditions in captivity, the croaking is also more likely to occur in your home. An increase in misting in the enclosure or a more active dripper system alongside warmer cage temperatures and plentiful food can mimic a natural, outside springtime environment. This will cause your pet frog to croak just like a wild frog. A frog may may also croak to announce an impending danger or as a territorial display.

How to Stop a Frog From Croaking

It is impossible to stop a male frog from croaking entirely, but you can try and keep it to a minimum. If your frog is croaking, and you want it to stop, try to mist it with water at certain times of the day. If you'd prefer your frog to be quiet at night, save the misting for the morning. Additionally, allow the temperature in the enclosure to drop down to the lowest acceptable point for your specific frog species. Do this slowly over a couple of days so your frog does not get a temperature shock and can adjust to the change slowly. These environmental changes may convince your frog that the conditions are not ideal for a female frog to lay eggs, and they will stop trying to find a mate.

Sometimes adding in a female to a terrarium that previously only had one male will also keep the croaking to the minimum. If you want to avoid croaking altogether, opt to care for only female frogs. Female frogs do make some vocalizations, but croaking is typically only done by males.

What Not to Do if Your Frog Is Croaking

Some people may find the croaking noise a frog makes annoying, but it's very important that you not do anything that could harm your frog in an attempt to make it stop. A popular solution for making wild frogs stop croaking near a home is to spray salt water outside around the property, but this is very harmful and irritating to frogs and should never be done.

Additionally, making drastic environmental changes in an attempt to decrease the croaking can be very dangerous. Lowering the temperature in the enclosure too far may simply cause your frog to temporarily estivate, but decreasing the humidity level can dry a frog's skin out and be potentially fatal. Humidity is essential to a frog's health and survival since they absorb oxygen and hydration through their skin.

Finally, it should go without saying, but you should not try to silence your frog by holding it too tightly— because frogs croak with their mouths shut, closing its mouth won't help and should never be done.