Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens)

Northern leopard frogOther names: Grass frog; Meadow frog; Shad frog; Herring Hopper

Description: Northern Leopard frogs are typically brown or greenish-brown and feature rows of black, brown, or green spots down their backs. Some frogs of this type may exhibit bright green legs, but this is not a universal trait. They are long and slender, measuring anywhere from 2 to 5 inches in length.

Location: The Northern Leopard frog is one of the most prevalent frogs in North America, found in Canada, central and eastern United States, and from Mexico to Nicaragua.

Habitat: Like many other species of frog, the Northern Leopard frog prefers to live near a permanent water source, such as streams, lakes, marshes, and irrigation streams. They are a versatile species that can be found in the mountains and the plains—the only thing that limits their travel is their need to be near water. The Northern Leopard frog adapts its living conditions to the environment in which it lives: in wetter areas, they tend to reside within crevices and holes, and in drier areas, they create light depressions in the ground in which to rest. Wintertime drives these frogs into hibernation, which takes place underwater, in the mud, or underneath rocks and stones.

Diet: Leeches, spiders, snails, crickets, houseflies, bees, caddisflies, beetles, grasshoppers, and wasps, as well as small tadpoles, fish, frogs, snakes, and the occasional hummingbird.

Breeding: Mating season is between mid-March and June. Clutches can contain anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 eggs, creating a mass that can measure up to 5 inches in diameter. Females typically lay their eggs on water plants, though they do not always stay attached. The time it takes for the eggs to hatch depends on the temperature of the water, but it usually takes place within 2 to 3 weeks. It takes 8 to 11 weeks for tadpoles to develop into froglets and 1 to 4 years before they are able to begin breeding. (Warmer temperatures cause breeding to begin at an earlier age.)

Lifespan: Statistics about their lifespan in the wild are largely unknown, but they have been observed to live up to 9 years whilst in captivity.

Fun facts:

  • The Northern Leopard frog is the state amphibian of both Minnesota and Vermont.
  • The spots on the Northern Leopard frog help to hide it from predators; the presence of such large spots breaks up its outline and makes it harder to see.
  • Northern Leopard frogs can clear spans of 8 feet in a single leap—that’s 15 times their body length!



International Wildlife Encyclopedia – Vol. 11. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2002., Northern leopard frog. Available from: (Accessed 6 October 2014).