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Wildlife Northern Leopard Frog Page


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This copyrighted photograph is the sole proprietorship of the photographer.  Unauthorized use is a violation of federal copyright laws.
Photo by: Dr. Geoffery Hammerson
 Northern Leopard Frog
 Rana pipiens

Habitat: Typical habitats include wet meadows and the banks and shallows of marshes, ponds, glacial kettle ponds, beaver ponds, lakes, reservoirs, streams, and irrigation ditches.

Food and Predators: Little information is available on northern leopard frog food habits in Colorado, but invertebrates undoubtedly dominate the diet of adults. Gehlbach (1965) reported tenebrionid beetles in the diet of individuals from northwestern New Mexico.

Known predators on larvae in Colorado include the pied-billed grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) (R. Ryder, pers. comm.) and tiger salamander (Corn 1981). Reported predators on metamorphosed frogs in Colorado include the great blue heron (Ardea herodias) (D. and J. Ward, pers. comm.), burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) (Hamilton 1941), northern water snake, and western terrestrial garter snake (Cockerell 1910; Livo, pers. comm.).

Recognition: Dorsum green or brown, with large rounded or oval spots; skin smooth; eardrum usually lacks distinct light spot; dorsolateral folds not inset toward midline on rump; hind toes with extensive webbing; rear of thigh with dark spotting; vestigial oviducts usually present in male (dissection required) (Pace 1974). Mature male: base of innermost digit on forefeet swollen during breeding season; expanded vocal sacs, one on each side, extend above forelimbs; typical breeding call a prolonged snore lasting 23 seconds followed by 23 series of stuttering croaks or chuckles (sometimes the chuckles are given without the introductory snore and vice versa). Larvae: dorsum dark brown or olive to gray; snout pointed in dorsal view, oral disc terminal (Korky 1978); eyes dorsal, iris gold, surrounded by dark spots (Scott and Jennings 1985).

Distribution: Southern Canada and northern United States south to Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, northern Illinois, extreme northwestern Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Arizona, and eastern California (Stebbins 1985; Conant and Collins 1991). Occurs throughout Colorado, excluding most of the southeastern and east-central portions of the state. Elevational range extends from below 3,500 feet (1,065 m) in northeastern Colorado to above 11,000 feet (3,355 m) in southern Colorado.


Status: State Special Concern


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Northern Leopard Frog Specific Links
  GAP Habitat Map


General Wildlife Links
  Colorado Audubon
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