Discover Maryland's Herps

Field Guide to Maryland's Frogs and Toads (Order Anura)

True Frogs (Family Ranidae)

Southern Leopard Frog
Lithobates sphenocephalus utricularius

Southern Leopard Frog, photo courtesy of Paul Kazyak
Southern Leopard Frog, photo courtesy of Paul Kazyak

Size

  • 2 - 3 inches 
  • Record - 5 inches
  • Appearance

  • The “leopard” in its name is due to large dark spots on its back, sides and front legs, but the amount of these is highly variable.
  • Its body color is green or brown or combination of the two.
  • Diagnostic feature, which is found in most but not all specimens, is a white spot in the center of the tympanum (ear).
  • It also has a light line above the upper lip and another along the dorsolateral ridge, which extends from behind the eye to the groin.
  • Close-up of Southern  Leopard Frog, photo courtesy of Scott A. Smith
    Close-up of Southern Leopard Frog,
    photo courtesy of Scott A. Smith

    Photo of  Little Mill Creek, habitat for Southern Leopard Frog
    Photo of Little Mill Creek, habitat for Southern Leopard Frog

    Habitat

  • Can be found in all types of shallow freshwater wetlands, and is one of our few amphibians that can also be found in brackish marshes.
  • On warm rainy nights, and during summer can be found great distances from wetlands, anywhere there is green herbaceous cover.
  • How to Find

  • One of our few fall-breeding species, listen for its distinctive low, short chuckle-like guttural trill in October and November, then again from February through April.
  • Calls day and night.
  • Typically only one or few individuals calling at any one site.
  • Usually found in same wetland with peepers and Fowler’s toads.
  • This is the most common true frog on the Coastal Plain.
  • Maryland Distribution Map
    Maryland Distribution Map for Southern Leopard Frog

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    Maryland Amphibian
    and Reptile Atlas Project

    "A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"

    For monthly newsletters of the Maryland Amphibian & Reptile Atlas Project click on Recent Newsletters and scroll down to the MARA Newsletters.

    The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.