New York Natural Heritage Program
Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog
Lithobates kauffeldi Feinberg, Newman, Watkins-Colwell, Schlesinger, Zarate, Curry, S
Amphibians

General Description [-]
Leopard frogs are green or brown, usually with irregularly spaced rounded dark spots on the back and a few dark spots on the sides of the body. A continuous usually yellowish ridge extends along each side of the back. The head is pointed, and sometimes there is a light spot in the center of the eardrum. The hind toes are extensively webbed. Maximum size is around 5.1 inches (13 cm) snout-vent length. Breeding males have vocal sacs at the angles of the jaw; the sacs are spherical when inflated. The forelimbs of mature males are more massive than those of females, and the base of the thumb is larger in males than in females. The breeding call is a repeated single chuck combined with an occasional drawn-out snore. Larvae have faint to dark mottling on the body and tail, and the eyes are positioned on top of head, not at the margin of the head, when viewed from above. Maximum size of larvae is about 3 inches (7.6 cm) in total length. Egg masses are baseball sized when the jelly is fully expanded and contain roughly 1,000-1,500 eggs.

Identifying Characteristics [-]
A brown to green frog with rounded spots, distinct dorsolateral lines, and an occasional white spot on the tympanum. The reticulum (upper thighs) is typically dark with light spots. The call is a single-pulsed "chuck" with an occasional rolling "snore."

Characters Most Useful for Identification [-]
The call is the only diagnostic feature of this species that has been identified to date.

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification [-]
As the tadpole and egg mass have yet to be described, the adult stage is the only stage in which this frog can be distinguished from species. The call of the adult is diagnostic, but no 100% reliable visual field characters have been identified.

Behavior [-]
Leopard frogs are primarily nocturnal. Males typically call between midnight and daybreak. They are very skittish and can make quick leaps into vegetation or water when they feel threatened. Egg masses of 3,000 to 5,000 eggs are often laid communally. Tadpoles hatch in 7-12 days and transform into adults in 2-3 months. Late-hatching eggs may overwinter as tadpoles. The frogs migrate between breeding pools and upland foraging areas. They hibernate in mucky bottoms of wetlands. (Gibbs et al. 2007)

Diet [-]
Tapoles feed on algae, plant material, and organic debris while adult frogs feed on small invertebrates such as beetles, caterpillars, and spiders (Gibbs et al. 2007, Natureserve 2007).
Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog Images
click to enlarge
The Best Time to See
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Present Active Reproducing
The time of year you would expect to find Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog present (blue shading), active (green shading) and reproducing (orange shading) in New York.
Similar Species
  • Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica)
    These two are unmistakable visually, but the wood frog's call sounds much like the Atlantic Coast leopard's. However, the "chuck" sounds of the wood frog are multi-parted (three sounds quickly in succession) and there are no "snores."
  • Southern Leopard Frog (Rana sphenocephala)
    Southern leopards have a more pointed snout and a more defined white spot on the tympanum, and usually have a light reticulum with dark spotting. These two species may not yet be reliably distinguishable in the field, except by call. Southern leopards have a rolling series of "chucks," as opposed to individual "chucks" by the Atlantic Coast leopard.
  • Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens)
    Northern leopard frogs never have a white spot on the tympanum, but rarely have a darker splotch. Their reticulums (upper thighs) are rarely dark with light spots.
  • Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris)
    The pickerel frog has a yellow/tan wash on the underside of the legs and squarish as opposed to rounded spots. It may be cream or tan colored, which leopard frogs rarely are. Juvenile pickerels may be hardest to distinguish from leopards as their spots may look round and the leg color is less prominent.