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Last Update 08/29/12
Florida Garden Critters

 Rana sphenocephala utricularius - Southern Leopard Frog

The Southern Leopard Frog grows to about 3-1/2" long. Click image to enlarge.

The Southern Leopard Frog grows to about 3-1/2" long. Click image to enlarge.

A Native Southern Frog

The Southern Leopard Frog is generally green or light brown in color with dark brown or black blotches that give this mostly aquatic frog its common name. The Southern Leopard Frog grows to 2-1/2 to 3-1/2" in length, has a distinct light spot in the center of its eardrum, a long-pointed head and snout, and a white line running along its upper jaw.



The Southern Leopard Frog inhabits freshwater ditches, canals, ponds, lakes, marshes, mixed hardwood swamps, and cypress swamps throughout Florida. During the summer it prefers weedy areas away from the water where it can hide and hunt for insects in moist vegetation. This little guy was found at night several yards from a fresh-water canal hunting for dinner in a driveway in front of a garage door.

Southern Leopard Frog. Click image to enlarge.

Southern Leopard Frog. Click image to enlarge. Click here to hear its call.


Food Habits

Southern Leopard Frogs are mostly nocturnal and carnivorous, eating almost any kind of insect they can catch and fit in their mouth, including earthworms, spiders and centipedes.


Southern Leopard Frogs breed year round in the southern part of Florida and from March to June in the cooler northern areas of the state. They lay eggs in a clutch of several hundred in shallow water. Tadpoles hatch and remain in the fully aquatic form for approximately 90 days while feeding on algae and rotting plant matter.



Raccoons, bass and other fish, snakes, otters and water-birds find this frog to be a delicacy. When these frogs are near water, they escape predators on land by diving into the water, making a sharp turn while still submerged, and surface amid vegetation at the water's edge while the predator continues searching for the frog where it originally dove into the water. This frog is hunted by humans for bass bait.

Rana sphenocephala utricularius. Click image to enlarge.

Rana sphenocephala utricularius. Click image to enlarge.


SOURCE: Southern Leopard Frog Wildlife Profile

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