Pickerel frog

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This article is about the pickerel frog. For the pickerel fish, see Esox.
Pickerel frog
Pickerel Frog.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Ranidae
Genus: Rana
Species: R. palustris
Binomial name
Rana palustris
LeConte, 1825
Pickerel frog range
Lithobates palustris

The pickerel frog (Rana palustris)[2][3][4] is a small North American frog, characterized by the appearance of seemingly "hand-drawn" squares on its dorsal surface.

Distinguishing features[edit]

The distinctive rectangular spots of the pickerel frog may blend together to form a long rectangle along the back. All leopard frogs have circular spots. In addition, pickerel frogs have prominent dorsolateral ridges that are unbroken. Another important distinguishing mark is the orange or yellow flash pattern found on the inner surface of the hind legs of pickerel frogs. The frog must be picked up to examine this, as the legs cover the coloration otherwise. The plains leopard frog (Lithobates blairi) exhibits this coloration as well, but the dorsolateral ridges are interrupted and inset medially in that species.


The pickerel frog ranges in the west from much of Wisconsin, southeast Minnesota, eastern Iowa, through Missouri and down to eastern Texas. To the east they extend through northern Louisiana, most of Mississippi, northern Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina to the coast. Their northern range extends into Canada in the southern reaches of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. The range is spotty through the midwestern states and a field guide should be obtained for the specifics on ranges in a particular area.


The skin secretions of a stressed pickerel frog are known to be toxic to other frogs, as many a novice frog catcher has found when he finds only the pickerel frog still alive in his bucket. These secretions can also be moderately irritating if they come in contact with the eyes, mucous membranes, or broken skin.


  1. ^ Geoffrey Hammerson (2004) Lithobates palustris. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2.
  2. ^ David 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.2006.08.001. PMID 16997582. 
  3. ^ David M. Hillis & Thomas P. Wilcox (2005). "Phylogeny of the New World true frogs (Rana)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 34 (2): 299–314. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2004.10.007. PMID 15619443. 
  4. ^ Pauly, Greg B., Hillis, David M. & Cannatella, David C. (2009). "Taxonomic freedom and the role of official lists of species names". Herpetologica 65 (2): 115–128. doi:10.1655/08-031R1.1. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Arnold, K. (2000) Rana palustris (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed September 25, 2007.
  • Redmer, M. and Mierzwa, K.S. (1994). "A review of the distribution and zoogeography of the pickerel frog, Rana palustris, in northern Illinois". Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society 29: 21–30. 

External links[edit]