Leopard Frogs

swimming leopard frog, shown under GNU Free Documentation License

Leopard frogs, generally, are a collection of frogs with spots. In short, true to the name given to them, leopard frogs are spotted frogs. All the frogs known as Leopard frogs fall under the Rana pipiens complex. In layman's terms, all these frogs could be classified as “true frogs”. Belonging to the family Ranidae of the order Anura, Leopard frogs are very widespread and were once abundant in number in North America. Just like every widespread family of species, their habitats differ and one type is never exactly the same as the other despite having similar general characteristics.

Basically, a leopard frog is distinguished by its moist spotted skin. They have a characteristic line running down their dorsal front known as the dorsolateral ridge. This ridge runs prominently down the back of Leopard frogs from their eyes down to their groins and could serve as part of their distinguishing characteristics. Leopard frogs also have tympanic membranes, and some species display light coloring.

The different species of leopard frog differ subtly. With this, despite their similarities, differentiation could still be achieved. One difference, for example, would be the configuration and arrangement of the dorsal spots. The more subtle differences, however, might only be noticeable by biologists who have been working in close proximity with leopard frogs.

The usual size of the adult leopard frog ranges from 2 to 5 inches in length. As usual, the female of the species is larger in size than the male. Due to reasons related to mating, males have a couple of vocal sacs on the two sides of their bodies. Other than such reasons pertaining to mating, these vocal sacs are also extensively utilized when males establish their territories and would like the competition to know about it.

In the wild, leopard frogs are considered as environmental indicators. This is due to the fact that leopard frogs are highly sensitive to pollution and die out when it is rampant. Therefore, a location wherein leopard frogs should have been abundant but are currently not carrying many of the species is tagged as a polluted venue.

With regards to mating season, other than the mating croaks called out by the male of the species, the female also does her share of things. She lays eggs by the bulk -- around 3000 to 6000 in number. These eggs are laid as a flat white mass a couple of inches below the water's surface.

Each tiny egg measures 1.7mm in diameter. The eggs attach to the substrate in the water. If they are successfully fertilized, these eggs will then hatch into tiny tadpoles.

Tadpoles are usually between 65 to 83 mm in length. These tadpoles will grow and mature into leopard frogs of the new generation. It takes around two to three years before a leopard frog reaches sexual maturity wherein egg-laying is possible. During this time, it can be said that leopard frogs have reached adulthood. Leopard frogs can live between six to nine long years.

Care and Feeding

Leopard frogs (both in captivity and in the wild) eat insects such as lice and crickets as well as nightcrawlers that are also known as worms. When raising leopard frogs, two scenarios are possible -- raising them in glass tanks or in a terrarium. When you are only raising a single leopard frog, you can use the former. However, if you wish to breed leopard frogs, a terrarium can make mating in captivity possible.

When using a tank, half of it should contain water while the other half should be composed of soil. The water should be at least half a foot deep, and the earthen contents of the setup should be plentiful enough so a leopard frog could bury itself to hide. Make sure the soil in the setup is chemical free due to the sensitive nature of the frog.

Leopard frogs prefer cool and moist places. Their habitats should be kept at around 25 degrees Celsius during the day and 15 degrees Celsius at night. If you decide to build a terrarium, make it as realistic as possible. Put low-growing ferns around the enclosed pond of water as well as logs around the place. Don't forget to place the rocks and substrate where the frogs could hide themselves. Leopard frogs are a gentle frog species that are easily raised and bred. Just ensure that they are well taken care of and well-fed.