northern leopard frog

(Rana pipiens)

Conservation Status
northern leopard frog
Photo by Gerry Garcia
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

S4 - Apparently Secure

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Northern leopard frog is a slim, medium-sized, widely recognized, spotted frog. It is the most common frog in Minnesota.

An outbreak of deformities in this species was discovered by school children in LeSueur, Minnesota, in 1995. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency researched the problem from 1997 through 2000, when funding for the research was discontinued. The cause of the malformations remains unknown. According to the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII), research suggests that there is no single cause. The four major environmental factors contributing to the malformations are contaminants, nutritional deficiencies, parasites, and injuries from predators.

Adults are 2 to 3½ long at maturity. Males are smaller than females.

The back (dorsal surface) is smooth to moderately rough. Background color and spotting is variable. Most adults have 2 to 4 rows of black spots on a green background. Some have a greenish-brown or brown background, some have no dorsal spots, and some are brown with flecks of white, brown, or black between the spots. Juveniles may have few or no dorsal spots. The spots on all adults have a whitish or yellowish bordered. Prominent folds on each side of the back (dorsolateral) extend from the head to near the vent. The folds are light on top and dark at the base. They do not angle inward near the vent (anal opening). Males have a pair of inflatable vocal sacs on their shoulders. During breeding season these appear as areas of loose skin.

The belly is white or cream-colored.

There is a white stripe in the upper jaw. The ear covering (tympanum) is smaller than the eye.

The hind legs have dark horizontal bands. The inside of the thighs of the hind legs are pale with a greenish tint. The feet are webbed. Males have thick, dark thumb pads.

There are no recognized subspecies of northern leopard frog but there are four color morphs. Most adults have 2 to 4 rows of black spots on a green background (green morph). Some adults have a greenish-brown or brown background (brown morph). The Burnsi morph is brown or green with no dorsal spots. The less common Kandiyohi morph is brown with flecks of white, brown, or black between the spots.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

2 to 3½

 
     
 

Voice

 
 

A low pitched snore, lasting 2 to 4 seconds, and occasional clucks or croaks.

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
  Pickerel frog (Rana palustris) has a light tan background. The spots are squarish. The inside of the thighs of the hind legs are bright yellow. They are found only in trout streams in southeastern Minnesota.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Damp woodlands and grasslands, always near lakes, ponds, rivers, slow streams, marshes, or wetlands.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Behavior

 
 

 

 
     
 

Lifespan

 
 

5 to 7 years

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

Adults breed in April and May. With the male still attached, the female lays a single round mass of between 300 and 6,500 black eggs, attached to vegetation just below the water surface. The eggs hatch in 1 to 2 months and tadpoles metamorphose into adults in about 50 days, depending on the weather. After metamorphosis they leave the pond to feed on dry land and to migrate. Mass migrations often occur after heavy rains.

Adults reach sexual maturity in 2 or 3 years. They hibernate usually in deep water that does not freeze completely. They live 5 to 7 years.

 
     
 

Tadpole Food

 
 

Algae, plant tissue, organic debris, and probably some small invertebrates

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Insects, spiders, snails, earthworms, and other small terrestrial invertebrates.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

7, 11, 12, 13, 24, 29, 73.

 
  7/16/2015      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

 

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Class Amphibia (amphibians)  
  Superorder Batrachia (amphibians)  
  Order Anura (frogs and toads)  
  Suborder Neobatrachia  
  Superfamily Ranoidea  
 

Family

Ranidae (true frogs)  
 

Subfamily

Raninae  
 

Genus

Rana  
  Subgenus Pantherana  
       
 

In 2006 most North American true frogs were transferred from the genus Rana to the genus Lithobates by Frost et al. The change was controversial and was not accepted by all authorities. In 2008 and 2009 the change was rejected by Stuart, Pauly et al., and other systematic reviews, and in 2009 North American true frogs were returned to their previous classification. Lithobates is once again a subgenus of Rana. ITIS and Amphibian Species of the World continue to use the 2006-08 classification. NCBI and UniProt use the new classification. AmphibiaWeb suggests using the original name followed by the subgenus name in parentheses, in this case Rana (Pantherana) pipiens.

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Lithobates pipiens

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

northern leopard frog

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Dorsal

Referring to the upper surface or back.

 

Dorsolateral folds

Two parallel lines, one on each side of the back, of raised glandular skin between the back and the sides of most North American frogs of the family Ranidae.

 

Tympanum

The circular, disk-like membrane that covers the ear opening of some reptiles and amphibians.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

Share your photo of this amphibian.

 
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Dallas Barber

 
    northern leopard frog   northern leopard frog  
           
    northern leopard frog      
 

Margot Avey

 
    northern leopard frog   northern leopard frog  
           
    northern leopard frog   northern leopard frog  
 

Lynn Rubey

 
  The Northern Leopard Frog jumped in the other tire track of a service road in The Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge. It is a species of the True Frog family, native to North America and the state amphibian of Minnesota.   northern leopard frog  
           
        northern leopard frog  
 

Gerry Garcia

 
    northern leopard frog      
 

Alfredo Colon

 
    northern leopard frog      
 

Kirk Nelson

 
    northern leopard frog      
 

Bill Reynolds

 
    northern leopard frog   northern leopard frog  
           
    northern leopard frog      
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

Green Morph

 
    northern leopard frog   northern leopard frog  
           
    northern leopard frog      
           
 

Brown Morph

 
    northern leopard frog      
           

 

Camera

     
 
Slideshows
 

Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens)
Andree Reno Sanborn

  Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens)  
 
About

The State Amphibian of Vermon

http://www.netstate.com/states/symb/amphibians/vt_northern_leopard_frog.htm

http://community.middlebury.edu/~herpatlas/spp_pages/sppR-pipiens.php

 

Rana pipiens (Northern Leopard Frog)
Allen Chartier

  Rana pipiens (Northern Leopard Frog)  

Rana pipiens
Mike Pingleton

  Rana pipiens  

Northern Leoprd Frog
krloucks

  Northern Leoprd Frog  
     

 

slideshow

       
 
Visitor Videos
 
       
 

Share your video of this amphibian.

 
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Attach a video, a YouTube link, or a cloud storage link.
 
 

 

 
     
     
       
       
 
Other Videos
 
  Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens)
WisCBMnetwork
 
   
 
About

Published on Apr 30, 2012

No description available.

 
  The Northern Leopard Frog (Ranidae: Lithobates/Rana pipiens)
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Dec 21, 2009

A brief contemplative look at the northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens), a common but possibly declining species in the upper midwest of the United States. Specimens shown here were filmed in northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota in the summer, 2009.

 
  Northern leopard frogs calling
HerpNet
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Mar 20, 2009

Northern leopard frogs calling

 
  Northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens) mating call
Bart B. Van Bockstaele
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Apr 21, 2009

This is a northern leopard frog calling for a mate. Others can be heard in the background.

See also the article on http://thamno.com/blog/?p=1260

 
  Leopard frog (Rana pipiens) calling
Ryan M. Bolton
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on May 2, 2007

Leopard frog calling.

© Ryan M. Bolton

www.artofconservation.ca/RMBolton

 
  Northern Leopard Frog (Ranidae: Lithobates/Rana pipiens) Anterior View
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on May 14, 2010

Photographed at Kellys Slough NWR, North Dakota (14 May 2010). This is the largest and thinnest leopard frog I've ever seen. I believe that this is a female en route to a wetlands area, 50 m distant, where males are calling this late afternoon.

 
  Uploaded on Mar 29, 2007
lvulgaris
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Mar 29, 2007

Vocalizing Northern Leopard Frogs from New Jersey. Poor video, but mainly for documentation purposes

 
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

Report a sighting of this amphibian.

 
  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.
 
  Margot Avey
8/29/2019

Location: Lake Harriet Gardens, Minneapolis MN

northern leopard frog  
  Dallas Barber
8/16/2019

Location: Cottage Grove

northern leopard frog  
  Lynn Rubey
8/9/2019

Location: Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge

The Northern Leopard Frog jumped in the other tire track of a service road in The Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge. It is a species of the True Frog family, native to North America and the state amphibian of Minnesota.

northern leopard frog  
  Gerry Garcia
8/4/2019

Location: Lyndale Park, Minneapolis, MN

northern leopard frog  
  Alfredo Colon
6/19/2018

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

northern leopard frog  
  Kirk Nelson
9/10/2017

Location: Lebanon Hills Regional Park

northern leopard frog  
  Margot Avey
8/31/2017

Location: Lake Harriet Gardens, Minneapolis MN

northern leopard frog  
  Sandralee Branzovsky
8/4/2016

Location: Long lake, Grandy, MN

always surprised to see this frog.  Not very many around anymore.

 
  Bill Reynolds
9/5/2014

Location: Pennington Co Mn

northern leopard frog  
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
 

Baker Park Reserve

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Zimmerman Prairie

 

 

 

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