The green frog, belonging to genus Lithobates, is a relatively abundant amphibian species, found all across North America. This frog is often confused with Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeiana).
Species: L. clamitans
The scientific name for the Green frog is Lithobates clamitans.
Lithobates clamitans has two recognized subspecies –
These two subspecies slightly differ in coloration and geographical range. As the names suggest, Northern green frog is primarily green, while Bronze frogs are generally bronze in color. Northern green frogs also tend to be a little larger.
Adult green frog ranges from 5 cms to 10 cms in length. They can weigh between 28 to 85 grams. The color can typically be brown, bronze, green, or brownish green. The color of the underpart is white with dark spots. In some individuals, there may be some irregular spots on the back. The dorsolateral ridges in this species end halfway as it goes towards the groin. This species is sexually dimorphic.
Females are a little larger than males. The size of the tympanum, in males, are twice the diameter of their eyes; while in females, tympanum size is almost as same as the size of the eyes. Males carry bright yellow throats. During breeding season, males develop enlarged pads on thumbs; and they also have a pair of vocal sacs.
The green frogs can be seen in a variety of habitats. They are known to be highly aquatic. If not in water, the are mostly seen in vegetation that are very close to a waterbody.
They are commonly found in ponds, swamps, lakes, wooded swamps, marshes, oxbow lakes, bogs, roadside ditches, springs, puddles, sloughs etc. They are also found in impoundments and near slow-moving river banks. During the rainy season, juvenile frogs go to meadows or wooded areas.
They are native to the United States and Canada. In the United States, they are found throughout the east coast; and in the west, their range goes to Oklahoma and eastern Texas. In Canada, they inhabit the Maritime provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island) in the east; and in the Great Lakes region, expending to Ontario in the west.
Green frogs are diurnal creature, meaning that they stay active during both day and night. During cold weather, they stay dormant. They have greatly sensitive hearing. Their bulging eyes offer them a wide vision. They are primarily solitary; but males become territorial during breeding season; and they tend to defend their ground against other males using posturing, calls, and physical combat.
Lithobates clamitans prefer to breed in freshwater ponds, swamps, marshes, slow moving stream and bogs. Breeding primarily takes place from April to August.
However, region and difference in temperature can affect breeding time. Females lay 1000 to 5000 eggs in a cluster. At times, a female lay a second cluster that tends to be smaller than the first one. Eggs either float on the water surface or stay submerged in vegetation. Eggs hatch within five days. Tadpoles are primarily olive green in color. Metamorphosis takes place in 3 to 22 months (as some population overwinter and metamorphose in the following year). Males reach sexual maturity in the first year, while females take two or three years to attain sexual maturity.
Green frogs are generally carnivorous. They are opportunistic feeder; and mostly ambush predator.
Their diet includes a great variety of invertebrates and insects both from water and land. Adults feed on fish, crayfish, shrimp, snails, molluscs, worms, tadpoles, spiders, flies, caterpillars, moths, butterflies, small snakes, other frogs etc. Tadpoles feed on water plants, algae, zooplankton and diatoms.
Green frogs are known to produce six different recognized vocalizations. Their most distinctive call sounds like ‘gunk’ or ‘bonk’, which has often been compared to the sound of a plucked wobbly banjo string.
The predators of adult green frogs include raccoons, otters, mink, turtles, snakes, various wading birds, as well as larger frogs. Tadpoles and eggs get preyed upon by herons, turtles, fish, and various aquatic insects.
This species can live for 5 to 10 years depending on a lot factors, such as habitat, food availability, predators etc.
Lithobates clamitans is one of the most abundant amphibian in its native range. In some US states, they are protected by law. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species named this species in the “Least Concern” category.
Green frogs are used for educational purposes in schools and colleges. They are used for research studies by the scientific community.
The genus name Lithobates comes from Greek. ‘Litho’ means ‘stone’ and, ‘bates’ mean ‘one that hunts or walks.’ The species name ‘clamitans’ comes from Latin. It means ‘loud calling.’
In some areas of its native range, this species is believed to be threatened by degradation and habitat loss. Rising levels of pollutants and toxins can be a threat in the future.
In many US states, including Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Lithobates clamitans is classified as a game species.
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