Southern Leopard Frog (Rana [Lithobates] sphenocephala)

Southern Leopard Frog (Rana [Lithobates] sphenocephala)

Photos by Amanda Hurst unless otherwise noted

Description: Southern Leopard Frogs (Rana [Lithobates] spenocephala) are mid-sized frogs — 2 – 3.5 in (5.1 – 8.9 cm), that are brownish to green in ground color with large dark green to brown spots on its back, sides, and legs (spots on the sides and legs may be smaller than those on the back). The upper jaw has a light, sometimes yellow stripe. The similar Pickerel Frog (Rana [L.] palustris) has square spots that are generally arranged in rows and bright orange coloration on the inside of the legs.

Range and Habitat: Leopard Frogs are found throughout the Southeast, including all of Georgia and South Carolina. They breed in virtually any shallow freshwater habitat, particularly wetlands that do not have fish and can also be found in slightly brackish water.

Habits: Although Leopard Frogs are often found close to water, they are more terrestrial than other ranid frogs and can often be found far from water. They are active both by day and night and can be seen in large numbers on rainy nights. Leopard frogs breed primarily in the winter and spring but sometimes breed again in the fall. Often a heavy winter rain will prompt explosive breeding in this species.

Call: The call of the Lepoard Frog is a chuckling croak.

Conservation Status: Leopard Frogs are common throughout our region and are not protected.

Account Author: Carmel Norman, University of Georgia – edited by J.D. Willson