Southern leopard frog

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Southern leopard frog
Southern Leopard Frog, Missouri Ozarks.JPG
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Ranidae
Genus: Rana (genus)
Species: R. sphenocephala
Binomial name
Rana sphenocephala
Cope, 1886
  • Lithobates utricularius, Lithobates sphenocephalus Frost, et al., 2006
  • Rana halecina
    Holbrook, 1842
  • Rana halecina sphenocephala
    Cope, 1886[2]
  • Rana utricularia sphenocephala
    Pace, 1974
  • Lithobates sphenocephalus
    Frost, et al., 2006

The southern leopard frog (Rana sphenocephala[3][4]) is a species of mostly aquatic true frog, found in the south-eastern third of the United States. There are two accepted subspecies.


The southern leopard frog is generally green or light brown in color, with dark brown or black blotching (that is the origin of their common name). They grow to 140 mm (5.5 in) and have a pointed snout. These frogs are usually smaller than their close relative the northern leopard frog but have fewer spots.[citation needed]

Ecology and behavior[edit]

A metamorph
Egg mass

This species prefers shallow, freshwater habitats, such as streams, ponds or lakes, with plenty of vegetation for camouflage. They are mostly nocturnal, and carnivorous, consuming almost any kind of insect they can catch and fit in their mouth, as well as earthworms, spiders and centipedes. They are excellent jumpers,[5] and typically escape predation by leaping into the water and swimming to the bottom. Breeding occurs year round, as long as the temperature permits. Eggs are laid in a clutch of several hundred at the bottom of shallow water. Tadpoles hatch and remain in the fully aquatic form for approximately 90 days, feeding on algae and rotting plant matter.[citation needed]


  • Rana sphenocephala utricularia (Harlan, 1825)
  • Rana sphenocephala sphenocephala


  1. ^ Geoffrey Hammerson & Blair Hedges (2004). "Lithobates sphenocephalus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved February 5, 2010. 
  2. ^ Stejneger, L.H. and T. Barbour. (1917). A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts.[page needed]
  3. ^ 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.2006.08.001. PMID 16997582. 
  4. ^ D. M. Hillis & T. P. Wilcox (2005). "Phylogeny of the New World True Frogs (Rana)" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 34 (2): 299–314. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2004.10.007. PMID 15619443. 
  5. ^ "Southern Leopard Frog". 


  • Frogs & Toads of Georgia: Southern Leopard Frog
  • Hammerson & Hedges (2004). Rana sphenocephala. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 12 May 2006. Database entry includes a range map and a brief justification of why this species is of least concern
  • Frost, D. R., Grant, T., Faivovich, J., Bain, R., Haas, A., Haddad, C. F. B., de Sa, R. O., Channing, A., Wilkinson, M., Donnellan, S. C., Raxworthy, C. J., Campbell, J. A., Blotto, B. L., Moler, P., Drewes, R. C., Nussbaum, R. A., Lynch, J. D., Green, D. M., & Wheeler, W. C. (2006). The amphibian tree of life. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 297:1-371.
  • Herps of Texas: Rana sphenocephala
  • Hillis, D.M., Frost, J.S.,& Wright, D.A. (1983). Phylogeny and biogeography of the Rana pipiens complex: A biochemical evaluation. Systematic Zoology 32:132-143.
  • Hillis, D.M. (1988). Systematics of the Rana pipiens complex: Puzzle and paradigm. Annual Review of Systematics and Ecology 19:39-63.
  • Study of Northern Virginia Ecology: Southern Leopard Frog

See also[edit]