Lee Richardson Zoo
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Plains Leopard Frog

Order Anura—frogs and toads
Family Ranidae—true frogs

Scientific Name:  Rana blairi

 

Plains Leopard FrogDescription:  Characterized by a round snout, narrow waist, long legs, and a distinct pattern of scattered spots on the back and sides.  They have a prominent light colored stripe along the jaw and a light colored raised pattern or ridge of skin on either side of the body running from behind each eye down to the thighs.  The head, body, and limbs are generally brown with dark brown or black spots.  The belly is white though it may be yellowish around the groin.  The hind legs are heavily banded.  While the toes are webbed, the fingers are not.  Females grow larger than males.  Length is generally 2-4”.

RangeHome Range:  Eastern Nebraska south to Northwestern Texas, and from Eastern New Mexico northeast through Northern Missouri and parts of Indiana.

 

Habitat Type:  Nearly any permanent or temporary body of water.  During wet periods, these frogs will wander far from their breeding grounds to other bodies of water.

 

Reproductive HabitsBreeding begins in February and may continue into the summer.  Males will emit a sound called a chorus which attracts females.  The chorus sounds similar to a rapid chuck-chuck-chuckle.  The call of each frog species is distinctive so that individuals can recognize their own species.   The breeding site is usually a marshy area around the edges of ponds or streams.  Males will mount females from behind by clasping them around the hind legs.  The female will lay as many as 6,500 eggs in sacs that are attached to plants or rocks just under the surface of the water.  The eggs hatch in about three weeks and tadpoles will metamorphose during summer, over winter, or the following spring. 

 

Diet in Wild:  Terrestrial insects, including grasshoppers, worms, and crickets.  Also will eat spiders, aquatic snails, and nearly anything they can catch.

 

Diet in Zoo3 crickets on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

 

General InfoApparently, these frogs have no home range and will settle far away from their breeding site.  Leopard frogs are active from February through October, and sometimes through the winter.  During the winter, they will dig into mud and leaves of stream bottoms and remain inactive until temperatures rise.  Frogs' legs are long which makes them excellent jumpers as opposed to toads whose shorter legs are more suitable for hopping.  Though these frogs are nocturnal, they will also forage for food on cloudy days.

 

Predators:  raccoons, opossums, and skunks.

 

Bibliography

Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. Third Edition. Joseph T. Collins. University of Kansas Press, Lawrence, KS. 1993. pp. 85-87.

 

Peterson Field Guides: Reptiles and Amphibians.  Roger Conant et al. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 1991. pp. 173, 344.