Leopard Frog: Rana pipiens

Common name: Leopard Frog
Scientific name: (Lithobates pipiens)
Classification name: True Frog

Description: A green or brown frog with large, light-edged spots. Leopard Frogs also have prominent light-coloured dorsolateral ridges and a white belly. They can grow to over 10 cm body length but this is quite rare. Adults are usually 5-8 cm.

Call: The male’s call is a low snore followed by several low grunts and does not carry very far. Sometimes it sounds like a finger rubbed on a wet balloon. It is similar to the call of the Pickerel Frog but more complex.

Confusing Species: In eastern Canada the Leopard Frog is most similar to the Pickerel Frog. The Pickerel Frog has more squarish spots, a yellow belly and is always brown. In western Canada there are no other large frogs with large spots.

Distributions: The Leopard Frog is found in every province and territory with the exception of the Yukon. It is found in only southeastern British Columbia and the southern portions of the Northwest Territories. Leopard Frogs occur across most of central and eastern Canada. They are native to Labrador, and are introduced on the island of Newfoundland. They are also found through much of the northern United States.

Habitat: Leopard Frogs occupy a wide range of habitats from prairie to woodland to tundra. They are often found a considerable distance from open water.

Reproduction: Breeding occurs in mid-late spring in relatively permanent ponds without fish. Egg masses are attached to submerged vegetation. A female can lay up to 7000 eggs although half this number is more typical. The eggs are approximately 1.5 mm in diameter and hatch in one to three weeks depending upon the temperature. Tadpoles transform in mid to late summer.

Natural History: The Northern Leopard Frog is part of a large complex of closely related species that range across all of North America. Only the Northern Leopard Frog is found in Canada. Leopard Frogs eat a wide variety of prey, but mainly insects, spiders and other small invertebrates. They are eaten by snakes, turtles, herons and raccoons, to name but a few predators. Winters are spent on the bottom of waterbodies that do not freeze solid. In many areas Leopard Frogs hibernate in different ponds from where they breed. It takes a Leopard Frog approximately two years to reach maturity. In captivity, they have lived for up to nine years although individuals in the wild would likely only live to age three or four.

Conservation Concerns: In western Canada Leopard Frogs have dramatically declined over the last few decades. They virtually disappeared from Manitoba in the late 1970s and large declines have also been reported from Alberta. There is some evidence that they have also declined in northern Ontario. Populations appear to have stabilized and in some instances increased. Although the cause of the decline has not been confirmed possible causes are long-term drought and habitat loss.