Description: The Pickerel Frog is a relatively
large frog [2 - 4 in (4.5 - 7.5 cm)] that is identified by the 2 rows of dark-squarish
spots running down its back between its dorsolateral folds and its
light colored, blotchy belly. These spots occur on top of a dark green-brown background
color. This frog is sometimes confused with the Leopard Frog, but can be differentiated
by the square spots, as mentioned, or by the bright yellow flash colors that
occur on the under side of its hind legs. These flash colors are used to confuse
predators while trying to escape. Females are usually larger than males. Male
Pickerel frogs are recognized by their paired vocal sacs, stout forearms and swollen
thumbs. These frogs produce toxic skin secretions that are irritating to humans
and can be fatal to other small animals, especially other amphibians. Many frog-eating
snakes avoid these frogs for this reason.
Range and Habitat: In
North America Rana [Lithobates] palustris is found from the Canadian Maritime
Provinces south to the Carolinas, and west to form a line from Minnesota to Texas.
In Georgia it is scattered throughout the piedmont and mountains. Rana [L.]
palustris prefers to reside in slow-moving streams, ponds, lakes and swampy
areas with low, dense vegetation and cooler temperatures than Leopard Frogs.
Pickerel Frogs breed between late March and early May laying spherical egg masses
attached to branches in temporary ponds. These eggs masses can contain 700-3000
eggs with each having a diameter of 1.6 mm. When these eggs hatch, the tadpoles
emerge into the water and begin metamorphosis. It takes about 87-95 days before
these tadpoles can emerge out of the water as frogs, then another 2 years for
them to reach sexual maturity. As tadpoles, Pickerel Frogs are herbivorous, but
then become carnivorous as adults. While carnivorous they eat mainly invertebrates.
Males attract the females by emitting a low snore-like call.
status: Rana [L.] palustris is currently a stable population and not
protected by the state of Georgia or by the Federal government.
Author: Anna Tarter, University of Georgia - edited by J.D. Willson