Frog of the Week

Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris)

Pickerel Frog
photo by  Brian Gratwicke

Common Name: Pickerel Frog
Scientific Name: Rana palustris
Family: Ranidae – True Frog family
Location: United States and Canada
US Locations: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia
Size: 1.75 – 3.5 inches (4.5 – 8.9 cm)

The Pickerel Frog is found throughout the eastern United States and part of southeastern Canada. They resemble the leopard frogs but the Pickerel Frogs have rectangular spots on their back. The frog is a semi-aquatic species of frog and is found near the edges of streams, lakes, and ponds. In the northern part of their range where it snows, they survive by laying in the bottom of ponds, streams, and pools. The Pickerel Frog is poisonous, so don’t eat them and avoid handling.


Breeding for the Pickerel Frog is pretty standard for a frog. Due to the large range of the frog, the breeding season changes based on latitude. In the southern part of the range, they breed from December to May. In the middle of the range, they breed from March to May and in the north, they breed from May to June. The male frogs will start to call from water bodies to attract female. Eventually, the females will show up to mate. Then, the males will grasp the female from behind in the amplexus position. Next, the female will start to lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The female lays between 700 – 3,000 eggs. Neither parent provides any parental care. The tadpoles take between 2 to 3 months to complete their metamorphosis.

photo by John P Clare


While the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Pickerel Frog as Least Concern for Extinction, they have been struggling in some parts of their range. In Wisconsin, they are listed as a Special Species of Concern, while declining in other states. Better protections and restoring wetlands will help keep these frogs around.

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