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Southern Leopard Frog

(Lithobates sphenocephalus)



The Southern Leopard Frog is the most common and widely distributed of Kentucky’s 3 leopard frogs. This frog ranges from the Mississippi River lowlands eastward across the state to the Louisville area and the Knobs region. In southern Kentucky it can be found as far east as Laurel and Whitley counties, then north in the eastern Knobs to the Minor Clark Fish Hatchery near Morehead. Southern Leopard Frogs are mostly absent from the Bluegrass Region and northeastern Kentucky (where they are replaced by the very similar Northern Leopard Frog). 

Leopard Frogs are very strong leapers can be extremely difficult to catch by hand. They vary from brown or tan to bright green in color, marked with numerous small round or oblong dark spots on the back and sides. The tympanum (eardrum) usually has a distinct clear white dot in the center, and the snout in front of the eyes normally lacks a dark spot. Adults are moderate in size, generally about 2 to 5 inches long. These frogs can be found in nearly all habitats from croplands, pastures, and grassy fields to mature forests as long as ponds, ditches, and wetlands are available nearby for breeding. Calling usually begins in March, and the major part of the breeding season spans March and April. Unlike most frogs, however, Southern Leopard Frogs can and will breed in just about any time of year, and we have heard strong choruses and found fresh egg masses in every month except December. 

The call of this species is a complex mixture of grunts, low growls, and prolonged chuckling sounds. A good chorus can make it sound as though every creature in the swamp is laughing at you.