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Plains leopard frog

Scientific name: Rana blairi




CLASS: Amphibia
ORDER: Anura
FAMILY: Ranidae

FEEDING TYPE: Insectivore
STATISTICS: Length: 2 – 4 inches

DESCRIPTION:
The plains leopard frog has four very distinct characteristics. It has very moist skin, which is common for frogs. It has a round snout. It has a pattern of spots on its back and sides with no common pattern between each frog. The last distinctive feature is a raised ridge of skin on each side of the back going from behind the eyes down the thighs. The main extremities are usually gray or tan with dark gray, brown, or black spots. Sometimes the outsides of the spots are slightly colored black. The hind legs have dark rings, and the fold on its back is usually a light yellow, gray, or whitish color.

RANGE:
Great Plains and central Midwest

HABITAT:
Vegetation mats around streams, ponds, lakes, creeks, pools, marshes and even irrigation ditches.

ADAPTATIONS:
The plains leopard frog is a wanderer. It will travel great distances to and from water. After huge summer rainfalls, these frogs will leave their breeding grounds and travel in every direction for many miles. Because of this erratic traveling pattern, it is obvious that there is no home range or territory for the plains leopard frog.
The plains leopard frog can survive a variety of temperatures, even in winter. This is a huge adaptation. This frog lives all across Kansas and the temperatures in Kansas can vary drastically in a matter of a couple days. If the temperature becomes too much for the frog, it will dig into the mud and leaves in the bottom of its water source and remain there until conditions improve.

REPRODUCTION/GROWTH:
Breeding usually occurs from February to October. The plains leopard frog starts to move to “breeding areas” during the spring. The males usually do all their courtship from the ground. Males join together in chorus to attract females. The breeding call is a rapid “chuck-chuck-chuck.” Once they have courted a female frog, the pair proceeds to mate. Their clutch size varies greatly; some frogs have between 4,000 to 6,500 eggs and some have as few as 200. The eggs hatch in about five to 20 days.

PREY/PREDATOR:
Prey to some fish, American bullfrogs, snakes, Mississippi kites, burrowing owls, raccoons, opossums and skunks.
Predator to many insects like spiders, annelids, snails and other invertebrates.

STATUS:
The IUCN lists the plains leopard frog as least concern because it is widely distributed, it has a high degree of tolerance for changes in the environment, and it seems to have a stable population. Its numbers are decreasing but not at a fast enough rate to show concern.

SPECIAL NOTES:

  • The largest plains leopard frog was found in Barber County and measured four inches in length. Stomach contents of a Kansas plains leopard frog contained beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, worms, and aquatic snails. They even found traces of a bat in its stomach.
  • The plains leopard frog was described as its own species in 1975.

 BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 28 October 2008.
  2. Collins, J. T. (1982 ). Amphibians and reptiles in Kansas. Lawrence: University of Kansas Publications.
  3. Crawford, J. A., Brown, L. E., & Painter, C. W. (n.d.). Rana blairi. AmphibiaWeb: Retrieved November 11, 2008

 

Published: September 2009

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