The Leopard Frogs
©2000 Terry Gampper
Leopard frogs can be found in almost any habitat where land and permanent water meet. They are medium-sized, reaching about 4 inches in length. Even though these frogs look very similar, they have distinguishing features that make it easy to identify the various species. Also, it is a fascinating fact that there is very little overlap in their geographic range. These frogs are generally nocturnal (active at night).
Description and Range
Plains Leopard Frog (Rana blairi): Green to brown; large dark spots between yellow dorsolateral ridges - ridges broken near hind legs; prominent jaw stripe; light spot on eardrum (tympanum). Eastern Colorado to western Indiana; Kansas south to central Texas. The call is two or three distinct guttural notes.
Relict Leopard Frog (Rana onca): Brown; large gray-edged dark spots between light-color dorsolateral ridges - ridges broken near hind legs; upper jaw stripe. Virgin River area (where Nevada, Arizona and Utah meet).
Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens): Brown or green; large, light-edged dark spots between light-color dorsolateral ridges - ridges continuous to groin; upper jaw stripe; no spot on ear drum. Throughout northern United States and Great Basin (except west coast). The call is often described as a long snore followed by a series of short grunts.
Southern Leopard Frog (Rana utricularia): Green to brown; large dark spots between light-color dorsolateral ridges - ridges continuous to groin; upper jaw stripe; a light spot in center of ear drum. Southern New York to Florida Keys, west to east Texas, north to Iowa east to Kentucky. The call resembles a chuckle-like guttural trill.
A Conservation Moment
The greatest enemy of reptiles and amphibians today is pollution and the ruination of their habitat. Each time we build a new shopping center, an industrial area or a new housing development, we must also consider creation of "green spaces" - places where animals and humans can co-exist. The establishment of a network of garden ponds within a neighborhood will help bring back the amphibians and other animals. It seems that us humans have lost our wild side, preferring to live in nice, neat, orderly and mundane spaces.
Great Britain leads the way in pond conservation. Communities in Britain are working to restore ponds for environmental reasons as many now realize how essential they are for the ecosystem. Through the Ponds Conservation Trust, nearly 15,000 ponds have been created or restored throughout the country. Many places in England have a wildlife trust, dedicated to preserving the native wildlife within that city our county. The people of the area are being educated on how they can play a part in protecting animal and plant species. Currently, I am collecting information about these grassroots programs and will report soon on my findings. Amphibians - frogs, toads, salamanders and newts are excellent indicators of environmental quality.
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