Northern Leopard Frog

Scientific Name: Lithobates pipiens

US Range: most of the northern, western, and southwestern states

Size: 2-4.5 inches (total length)

Conservation Status: state-listed as a species of concern in Washington, Arizona, California, Colorado, and New Mexico; not federally listed

Northern Leopard Frog Facts

Living up to the Greek origin of its group’s name, amphibian (“amphi” = “double” and “bios” = “life”), northern leopard frogs live double lives, both in the water and on land.

© Sam Stukel

They use shallow, still water for breeding, typically in the spring. Males arrive at breeding ponds first and emit a low, grunting, snore-like call to attract females.

If males are successful, they’ll externally fertilize eggs as females lay them, leaving grapefruit-sized egg masses just below the water surface, attached to vegetation. Tadpoles hatch out and metamorphose (change) into young frogs that leave the ponds when they’re large enough, usually in mid-summer.

This is when they take up life on land. During this life stage, northern leopard frogs are solitary, and they tend to spend their days foraging for their next meals, which includes just about anything that’ll fit in their mouths, like insects, snakes, birds, and even other frogs.

Since the 1970s, northern leopard frog populations have declined across their range, particularly in the western US. Plus, they’ve disappeared from much of their former habitat in the southwestern states. Their decline is mostly due to habitat loss and degradation, and they’re also highly impacted by invasive species, especially American bullfrogs.

ARC’s Work for Northern Leopard Frogs

We’re carrying out several conservation actions on the ground in PARCAs, or Priority Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Areas, throughout the range of the northern leopard frog. We’re restoring the wetlands they need for breeding, and these efforts range from restoring the topography with heavy machinery to removing invasive plant species. We’re also controlling invasive American bullfrogs to help give northern leopard frogs and other native amphibians a boost so they can thrive once more.

Can You Help?

Donate to ARC to invest in our work for often-overlooked species, like northern leopard frogs.