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Canadian Herpetological Society

Société d'herpétologie du Canada

Lithobates palustris,

formerly Rana palustris

Pickerel Frog / Grenouille des marais

Pickerel Frog

This is a moderate sized, true frog with smooth tan skin. It has prominent yellow dorsolateral ridges and bright yellow on the belly and undersides of the hind legs.It is distinguished from other frogs by the parallel rows of dark, squarish spots down the back. Adults can grow to almost 9 cm.

The call of the Pickerel Frog is a low snore somewhat like the lowing of a cow. It does not carry very far and is often missed in calling surveys. Pickerel Frogs sometimes call from under water. It is similar to that of the Northern Leopard Frog but lacks the short grunts of a full Northern Leopard Frog call.

Confusing Species
The Pickerel Frog is most similar to the Northern Leopard Frog, however the Northern Leopard Frog may be either green or brown and lacks the bright yellow underside. In addition, the spots on a Northern Leopard Frog are more round or oval.

The Pickerel Frog is distributed throughout much of eastern North America including southern Ontario, southern Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. It is more common than the Northern Leopard Frog in the Maritimes but less common in the western part of its range.

Pickerel Frogs prefer ponds and streams with stable water temperatures.They particularly like springs and cold seepages. In some parts of the United States they even occupy caves. They spend part of the summer foraging in fields and meadows.

Pickerel Frogs breed from mid to late spring, somewhat later than Northern Leopard Frogs in the same area. Egg masses of 2-3,000 eggs are laid in still waters and hatch in 11-21 days. Tadpoles transform after about 80 days.

Natural History
Pickerel Frogs take two to three years to reach maturity and they typically live to age four. Pickerel Frogs feed on snails, small crayfish and a variety of insects.

Conservation Concerns
Local declines of Pickerel Frogs have been reported from Ontario and Quebec. There is no evidence for declines in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia.