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American Bullfrog

Overview

The bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeiana) is the largest frog in North America. It has a deep, resonant jug-o’-rum call that can be heard reverberating from Ohio ponds, marshes, and large, slow moving streams from late April through late summer (they can be heard up to a mile away).

Scientifically speaking, only members of the Ranidae family are true frogs. In Ohio, this includes the bullfrog, green frog, northern and southern leopard frogs, pickerel frog, and wood frog. The others belong to the Hylidae family which includes the tree frogs, chorus frogs, and the cricket frog. In general, frogs tend to have moist, relatively smooth skin and leap.

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Description

Its tongue is fastened in the front of the mouth, enabling prey capture. As with its cousin the green frog, male and female bullfrogs are distinguished from each other by the size of the ear drum. Females have ear drums about the size of their eyes; they are much larger in the males. Bullfrogs range in length from 3.5 to 6 inches, and the belong to the Ranidae family.

Reproduction

In the spring, female bullfrogs deposit thousands of eggs in a foamy film in protected waters. Tadpoles emerge about four days after fertilization of the eggs by a male. Bullfrog tadpoles can be up to six inches long and grow rapidly. They live in the winter to become frogs the following summer, although it sometimes takes several years to transform into adult bullfrogs. Peak breeding season is May-July.

Habitat & Behavior

Except during breeding season, when they go through an aggressive, loud, splashing courtship, bullfrogs are solitary and territorial. Warm, still, shallow waters are preferred as habitat. Typical foods include crayfish, insects, mice, and other frogs.