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Southern Leopard Frog (Rana sphenocephala)

Southern Leopard Frog   
Rana sphenocephala      
(Order Anura; Family Ranidae)        

Adult Rana sphenocephala (Photo by Mary Liz Jameson) (Kansas: Sedgwick County. WSU Ninnescah Reserve, Latitude: 37.5368o N, Longitude: -97.6781o W, July 13, 2013.)   

Adult Diagnosis:  Southern Leopard Frogs are usually light green or brown in color.  They often have large green to brown spots on their back, legs, and sides.  They are most easily identified by a pale stripe that runs along its back.  They are usually smaller than the closely related Northern Leopard Frog, and have fewer spots.  

Tadpole:                                                                        Adult Male:   


      Photo courtest of                Photo courtesy of

Adult Natural History: Southern Leopard Frogs are mostly nocturnal, and can be found in numerous habitats.  They do need both cover and moisture.   

Southern Leopard frogs will escape from predators by jumping into and swimming underwater.  These predators include raccoons, skunks, and aquatic snakes.  

The Southern Leopard Frog reaches sexual maturity in the first spring after it hatches.  In warmer climates, breeding takes place often year round.  The females will lay hundreds of eggs in single cluster just under the water's surface.  After hatching, the tadpoles grow to 65-70 mm before metamorphosing into frogs.  This usually takes between two and three months.  The frogs have a mean lifespan of 3 years.

Distribution: The Southern Leopard Frog can be found throughout the eastern United States and can be found as far west as eastern Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.    

Distribution of the Southern Leopard Frog. Map courtesy of:  

Habitat: Southern Leopard frogs shallow, freshwater areas.  If there is enough vegetative cover the frogs will venture some ways off shore.  Besides freshwater, the frogs are sometimes found in brackish water.     

Diet:  The Southern Leopard Frog consumers virtually any insect it can catch, including spiders, centipedes, and earthworms.   

Adult Southern Leopard Frog eating prey.  Photo courtesy of:    

Conservation Status:  Least Concern           


Southern Leopard Frog (Rana sphenocephala) calling:


Southern Leopard frog predators, other info   

Diagnostic features     

Photo Gallery     

D. M. Hillis (2007). "Constraints in naming parts of the Tree of Life". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 42 (2): 331–338.doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.08.001PMID 16997582.           

Geoffrey Hammerson & Blair Hedges (2004). "Lithobates sphenocephalus"IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved February 5, 2010.

Stejneger, L.H. and T. Barbour. 1917. A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts            

Submitted by:  Michael O'Connell, August 2013.

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