Northern Leopard Frog

Lithobates pipiens

Species at Risk: At Risk


Like the Columbian Spotted Frog, Northern Leopard Frogs are considered “True Frogs”. Like all “True Frogs” they have dorsal lateral folds running from the back of the eye extending down the back. They range in size from 2-5” (5-13 cm). They are a very beautiful frog, with green to brown coloration over the back, white to green under the belly, and dark, circular spots with a lighter ring border over the back, sides and limbs. They are quite aquatic, and therefore have well-developed webbing on the feet. Adult Northern Leopard Frogs feed on insects, small mammals, small fish, worms, and other frogs and tadpoles. Cannibalism has been reported in Northern Leopard Frogs. They are nocturnal. Breeding sometimes will start even before the ice has left their breeding site, sometimes starting in April, but mostly in May. Females produce 4000-7000 eggs, which are attached to vegetation or the pond bottom. It takes 1-3 weeks for eggs to hatch. It takes 9-12 weeks for tadpoles to grow metamorphose into froglets, and they are not sexually mature for 2-3 years.


In Alberta, Northern Spotted Frogs are found in the south eastern part of the province. They occur in permanent water bodies, such as streams, marshes, bogs, ponds, lakes, rivers and canals, in grasslands, brushland, and woodlands. Like the Columbian Spotted Frog, they prefer water bodies with aquatic vegetation they can hide in and around. They over-winter at the bottom of ponds.


Northern Leopard Frogs are classified as At Risk. Threats include habitat loss and fragmentation (increasing distance between appropriate bodies of water), toxins, the introduction of fish to their habitats, drought, disease, etc. Many populations are too small to remain viable.


Peterson Field Guides: Western Reptiles and Amphibians (3rd ed) by Robert C Stebbins.
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Photo by Kris Kendall