Leopard Frog. Rana pipiens and Rana utricularia

Leopard Frog. Rana pipiens and Rana utricularia

Scientific Name:

  • Northern: Rana pipiens
  • Southern: Rana utricularia

Total Length: Up to 5 inches, usually 2-3.5 inches


  • Northern: Southeast Canada and northern half of the U.S.
  • Southern: Long Island and extreme southern New York, west to central Texas, and down to Florida.

Habitat: They may be found in many places from freshwater lakes with thick vegetation to brakish marshlands. They can also be found in wetlands, flooded fields, and along the shores of ponds, lakes, and streams. They will travel away from water in the summer and use weeds and other vegetation for shelter and shade.

Sex Determination:

  • Northern: When males are calling, their vocal sacs can be seen.
  • Southern: The males’ vocal sacs lie loose at the angle of the jaw when at rest, but have a circular shape when calling.


  • Northern: Breeding takes place from March to May in the warmer parts of its range. The males’ mating call is low, long and rattling with clucking grunts.
  • Southern: Breeding takes place in early Spring in the northern part of its range and any month in the south. The males’ mating call is low, short and rattling with clucking grunts.

The first thing the male does is call for a female. When a female approaches, the male holds on to her body with an amplexus clasp in the water. The female then lays the eggs. She could lay up to 4,000 black-and-white eggs and cover a surface area of one square foot!

Metamorphosis: The larval stage lasts about three months. Tadpoles measure 1.75-2.25 inches. As the tadpole changes to a frog, it’s lungs develop, it’s legs begin to appear, and it’s tail begins to absorb into the body. The end of metamorphosis is usually by the end of the summer.

Care In Captivity:

  • Tank Size: A maximum of two frogs in a 10 gallon tank would be alright.
  • Substrate: We suggest that you use a half land and half water set up (an aqua-terrarium). We did this by separating the land from the water with a piece of plexi-glass. On the land side Zoo Med’s Repti-Bark can be used. This is our favorite substrate because it is easy to clean, creates more humidity, and is natural looking. Other substrates you can use on the land side are gravel, stones, cedar shavings, and soil. On the water side you can have gravel or no substrate like us. Having no substrate makes the water side much easier to clean.
  • Decorations: You can have a log, bark, sticks, rocks, sphagnum moss, and fake plants in the tank. You can use live plants if you like, but you will have to replace them when they die. The water should include something for them to climb out like cork bark or a big fake plant.
  • Water: The water should definately have a filter. Depending on the size of the tank will decide on which filter you should use. A bottom filter would probably be best to use but if you have yours in a large tank, a power filter may be better. You should also have a water thermometer.

  • Tank Lid:
    You can have a flip top lid, a screen, or any other type of lid on the tank. There should be good ventilation.
  • Heating: You can use a heat rock, a heating pad, or an electric blanket to heat the tank.

  • Lighting:
    No additional lighting is needed but you may use a bulb with ultraviolet radiation if you want.
  • Temperature/Humidity: The temperature should be 65-80 degrees F in the day and 55-65 degrees F at night. In the winter, three months at 37-39 degrees F will stimulate hibernation. Doing this makes them healthier and encourages them to breed. You should have an air thermometer in the tank. It should have low humidity. You may use a humidity gauge which will show you how much humidity is in the tank.
  • Feeding: The diet should have variety. Feed them crickets, feeder goldfish, earthworms, flies, moths, spiders, and other small invertebrates. They should all be sprinkled with vitamin and calcium supplements.
  • Maintenance: Keep the tank clean and change the filter fiber and ammo-carb in the filter when needed (about every 1.5 months).

Other Information: These frogs can act nervous at first, but will soon calm down in captivity.

Leopard Frogs have long been used as laboratory animals.

Here are some ways to tell the difference between Northern and Southern Leopard Frogs. Southerns have a longer, pointed head, only a few darks spots on the sides of their bodies, and often a white spot on the center of their ears.
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