Animal of the Issue: True North American Frogs

The pickerel frog is a species that can be found locally. Photo Credit / Kathleen LaDuke
The pickerel frog is a species that can be found locally. Photo Credit / Kathleen LaDuke
The pickerel frog is a species that can be found locally.
Photo Credit / Kathleen LaDuke

By Briana Magistro
SC Staff Writer

Frogs come in all shapes and sizes. North America boasts a wide variety of frog species, especially on the eastern side of the continent.

Most North American frogs are in the “true frog” family, called Ranidae. The frogs in this family can live just about anywhere in the world, except drier, colder places like Antarctica.

Most Ranidae members are aquatic or semi-aquatic and lay eggs in water. From these eggs, tadpoles emerge and then develop into adulthood.

The American Bullfrog is one of the best-known true frogs. This frog gets its name from the male’s call, which sounds like a bull’s bellow.

Typically, they have greenish-brown backs and markings only on their sides and legs. They have green upper lips and white bellies. Males also show off a bright yellow throat.

They will live in any stable body of water, such as a lake or swamp. They are aquatic and spend very little time outside of their watery homes.

Male bullfrogs work together to attract a large number of mates. They form a chorus and will remain in a group together for up to a week before moving to another concert venue.

When more males join in, a larger number of females will be attracted to the location.

American Bullfrogs can consume anything from a tiny insect to a forest rodent. They will wait in the water, unseen, to ambush their lunch.

The species has been introduced to almost every continent, but its natural range is here on the east coast.

The leopard frog group contains over 10 species, which all have similar spots.

The spots are round or oval-shaped, and they are dark brown or black in color. Their spots typically resemble leopard print.

Their main body color can range anywhere from yellow to bright green to muddy brown.

These frogs are one of the most common frog groups in the Northern US and Eastern Canada. They are typically used for classroom dissection and for the consumption of frog’s legs.

However, their population sizes have been steadily decreasing. This may be the result of water pollution.

Leopard frogs are not picky eaters, as they will eat almost anything that they can swallow.

The pickerel frog is a cousin of the leopard frogs and American Bullfrogs. They have a similar color pattern and size to the leopard frog and are often mistaken for them.

There are two main differences between the two frogs.

The first is the shape of their spots. Pickerel frogs’ spots are more rectangular and can make a stripe if the spots are large enough.

The second difference is that the pickerel frog secretes mucus that is toxic to other animals. This mucus is an irritant to humans.

Frogs are common all over the world. Next time you are near a marshy area, try listening for the bullfrog. If you see a frog, try to look at its markings. However, always be careful to wash your hands afterward.

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