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Northern Leopard Frog

Common Name: Northern Leopard Frog.

Scientific Name: Lithobates Pipiens.

What to look for?  Medium-sized frog with “leopard” spots! Northern Leopard Frogs are typically brown or greenish-brown in color. They have rounded dark brown spots with very narrow pale borders on their backs – hence, the inclusion of “leopard” in their name. The tympanum (rounded ear spot) has a white spot in the middle. There is often a dark spot on the snout. Two light colored folds of skin called dorsolateral folds run from the back of its eyes down along the sides of its back. Also, there is a distinct white line along the upper jaw. And the belly is white to greenish-white.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? Look near the shallow edges of Carillon Stonegate Pond. You may find Northern Leopard Frogs sitting on the edge or around the pond reeds.

How big are they? The Northern Leopard Frog averages approximately two to four inches in length. They weigh in at around three-fourths of one ounce.

What are their skills? While not in the class of the American Bullfrog, Northern Leopard Frogs are very good swimmers and excel at jumping.

How else do they behave? Northern Leopard Frogs are primarily nocturnal. During the day, they are often found along the shoreline vegetation. When startled, they will jump into the water and remain submerged for several minutes. During winter months, Northern Leopard Frogs bury into mud at the bottoms of deep aquatic habitats to avoid freezing.

What’s for dinner? The Northern Leopard Frog will eat just about anything they can fit into their mouths. They eat arthropods (spiders, insects, mites and others) and mollusks (snails, slugs and others). Larvae eat algae, plant tissue, and organic debris.

Where do they take up residence? Northern Leopard Frogs reside throughout the northern tier U.S. states, several western states and the southern Canadian provinces. Northern Leopard Frogs live near ponds and marshes and prefer habitats such as uncultivated former prairies, marshlands and along creeks and in open bottom-lands.

When and where do they breed and nest? Breeding season runs from March to June. Northern Leopard Frogs gather at breeding ponds and call out loudly to attract females. After mating, females lay masses of up to 6,000 eggs in a film attached to submerged stems or branches in shallow water. The eggs will hatch in approximately nine days. Tadpoles become froglets in midsummer. They typically undergo metamorphosis into adults in late summer.

Where do they migrate? Northern Leopard Frogs do not migrate. Rather, they hibernate in deep water, burying into the mud bottoms to avoid freezing.

Do they make any interesting sounds? The call of a Northern Leopard Frog is described as a low grunting snore-like sound. It may scream when grabbed by a predator. Here is a link to the sounds of the Northern Leopard Frog.

Interesting Facts About Northern Leopard Frogs:

  • The Northern Leopard Frog is also known as the Meadow Frog or Grass Frog.

  • As predators, Northern Leopard Frogs and other frogs help decrease populations of many insects that are pests to humans.

  • The Northern Leopard Frog's main predators are fish (bass and pike), herons, green frogs, bullfrogs, garter snakes, water snakes, hawks, gulls, raccoons, foxes, mink, and otters.

  • The Northern Leopard Frog is considered a species of concern in Arizona, California, Colorado, and New Mexico.

  • A group of frogs is called an “army”.

  • Their lifespan in the wild is estimated at less than four years.

For more information on the Northern Leopard Frog and sources of information used in this blog (these are the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit National Geographic, National Park Service, University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web, Nature Mapping Foundation and University of Illinois Prairie Research Institute.

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.


Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!

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