Northern Leopard Frog

Scientific name: Rana pipiens
Common name(s): Northern Leopard Frog

leopard frogThe northern Leopard Frog is native to Minnesota and is found all over the state. Frogs are amphibians, meaning they can live in water and on land.

Leopard Frog in waterLeopard Frogs need moisture, so they like to live in or near streams, ponds, wetlands, lakes and wet meadows. As you walk along the bank of a stream, pond or lake, you'll frequently see or hear them jump into the water as you walk by. They are hard to catch because they can jump fast and far. They will sometimes let out a "scream" when they are grabbed by a predator (or curious human).

In Minnesota, you can hear Leopard frogs calling for mates in early Spring -- usually late April. Want to hear what they sound like? Select the .wav file below to hear their call.

Northern Leopard Frog Call (leopard.wav - 107 kb)
Note: This recording is courtesy of Andy Clay)

Northern Leopard Frogs are important to our environment. They eat lots of bugs, including mosquitoes! But, the frogs are also food for many different fish and birds.

The frogs breed in the spring and the females lay eggs that are encased in a soft jelly sac. Animated TadpoleThese eggs are usually laid in still, shallow water. In a few weeks, the eggs hatch into tadpoles that have tails instead of legs. In another few weeks, the tails slowly disappear and the tadpoles grow legs. At that point they are frogs and can both swim in water and jump around on land.

Northern Leopard Frog missing a right legThe Northern Leopard Frogs in Minnesota have been the focus of much attention in recent years because of the deformities showing up all over Minnesota. These deformities were first discovered by kids at the New Country School in Henderson, Minnesota. They were looking for frogs in the river and found lots with deformed and missing legs. They showed their teacher the deformed frogs and she called the MPCA to help them find out what was causing the deformities. We can thank the kids at this school for helping alert us to an environmental problem in Minnesota.

You can learn more about the deformed frogs problem at our deformed frogs page.

And, be sure to visit our Frogs! page, with lots of froggy stuff just for kids.

And, there's even more information about Northern Leopard Frogs at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Web site.

Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Salientia
Family: Ranidae
Genus: Rana
Species: pipiens

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Leopard Frog
Northern Leopard Frog
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Want to know more about Minnesota's water? Check out our Water page and find out more about the quality of Minnesota's water.