Have you ever heard a frog chuckle? The Southern Leopard Frog, scientific name Lithobates sphenocephalus, does! During the breeding season, the male is said to have a chuckle-like call.
Though affected by urbanization, loss of water, and water pollution, these frogs are fairly good adapters and can be found in all types of shall freshwater wetlands. Additionally, they are one of the few amphibians that can be found in brackish marshes. This species of frog can be found in central to eastern Virginia, inhabiting lakes, ponds, ditches, swamps. They often wander far from the water to find food, primarily insects, and mates during the warmer months. Speaking of mating, did you know that the females in this species of frog can lay a ‘baseball-sized’ egg mass containing several hundred eggs at one time? Eggs may hatch earlier than normal if predators are nearby. Once hatched, the tadpoles remain fully aquatic for about 90 days before they make their way onto land, feeding on algae and rotting plant matter.
As its name suggests, the Southern Leopard Frog has spots all over its body. They are typically brown or green and vary in length from 2 to 5 inches. They have two ridges on their back, which help distinguish them from other similar-looking frog species if a size comparison is not possible. These frogs are in the ‘true’ frogs family, meaning they have large tympanic membranes (their eardrum, the circle behind their eyes) and webbed hind feet.
If you ever feel like you’re being laughed at next time you’re on the river, you can thank these frogs!