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Green Frog

Scientific name: Lithobates clamitans or Rana clamitans

This is a frog native to New York. It is midsize, from 2-4 inches long (excluding the hind legs). They usually have green heads while the body may be brown, gray or dark green.  The belly of the frog is white, with black spots.

You can distinguish the green frog from a bullfrog, as only the green frog has ridges that run down the sides of the back. These can be seen in the photo. Do you wonder what the large circle is next to the eye? This is their ear, which is called a tympanum.  The tympanum is much larger than the eye in males and is the same size as the eye in females.

Green frogs use different calls for a wide variety of purposes. Their mating call has been compared to the pluck of a loose banjo string. If another male enters his territory, the male will give a series of growls followed by the mating call. Green Frogs produce as many as six different calls. Listen to some of theses sounds in the video below.

photo: by Contrabaroness – own work, CC0

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Green frogs are primarily carnivores and eat a wide variety of insects and other invertebrates from both land and water, such as slugs, snails, crayfish, spiders, flies, caterpillars, butterflies, and moths. They will also eat other vertebrates, such as small snakes and frogs.

Life Cycle

Mating mainly occurs between May and June. Male breeding call is an explosive, twangy sound. Their call may be expressed as a single note or repeated three or four times with the notes becoming progressively softer . Research has shown that this frog uses its sense of smell to locate breeding sites. These sites are shallow freshwater ponds, and ditches. This species is typically 1-2 years old at first reproduction. Females lay approximately 3,000 eggs in a large filmy clump on the water’s surface and may sometimes lay 2 clutches in a season.

After hatching, the Green Frog tadpoles are usually green with small black dots and often have yellow bellies. It can take them anywhere from 3 to 22 months to begin metamorphosis into full grown frogs. Some undergo this transition before the winter, but many tadpoles go into hibernation and wait until the spring to transform.

Ecosystem Connections

The eggs and larvae are valuable spring food sources for other animals in this ecosystem. Green Frogs are preyed upon by a variety of animals. Tadpoles and eggs are eaten by leeches, dragonfly larvae, other aquatic insects, fish, turtles, and herons. Adult frogs are eaten by larger frogs, turtles, snakes, herons, other wading birds, raccoons, otters, mink, and humans.

Fun Facts

They can live as long as six years in the wild.

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