• Leopard Frog Care - Rana pipiens (Schreber, 1782) and R. sphenocephala (1886)

    Leopard Frog Care - Rana pipiens (Schreber, 1782) and R. sphenocephala (1886)
    Paul Rust - NorthWest Amphibian Rescue

    This article covers the several species of Leopard Frog as they have very similar care requirements.

    Brian Robin (UncleChester)

    Family: Ranidae (True Frogs)

    North America

    IUCN (Red List) Status:
    Least Concern (LC)
    CITES Status: No listing
    Adult Snout-to-Vent Length:
    5-13 cm (2-5 inches); females are larger than males

    9 years or more

    Captive Difficulty:

    Activity: Naturally nocturnal as an adult, but may be active at any time of the day
    8-24 °C (50-75 °F); lower temperatures will lead to hibernation and lack of appetite

    The usual insect fare: crickets, cultured cockroaches, earthworms, waxworms, mealworms, etc


    Leopard frogs are medium to moderately large species of frog, reaching about 10 cm (4 inches) from snout to vent. Females are larger than males. Only the males of this species call. Color can be green, tan, or brown, or a combination, with distinct oval spots that have pale colored edges. The venter (underside) is white. There are light colored dorso-lateral ridges that run the length of the back on either side starting from just behind the eye and extending all the way back to the vent. These ridges are lightly colored. The upper jaw has a white stripe and occasionally they will have a white dot on the tympanum (eardrum). Young leopard frogs have very few or no spots. Tadpoles are brown or gray, with metallic gold spots on a brown background, and they can reach a length of about 8.5 cm (3.5 inches) before metamorphosis. The tadpoles are very similar in appearance to American Bullfrog tadpoles, but differ by being smaller and lacking the black spots often found on bullfrog tadpoles. Leopard frogs can live as long as 9 years in captivity.

    Brian Robin (UncleChester)


    Leopard frogs are semi-aquatic and require a large water area as well as a large land area. A 50/50 setup is ideal. Try to imitate their natural environment, which is normally any permanent body of heavily vegetated water. This includes areas such as ponds, lakes, potholes, and ditches. I would recommend at least 40 liters (10 US gallons) per frog because they are large and skittish. A sample setup would be a land area comprised of 5 cm (2 inches) of gravel or LECA (light expanded clay aggregate) for drainage, topped with 7.5-10 cm (3-4 inches) of coconut fiber because these frogs need to burrow on occasion. Cover this with sphagnum moss for a nice thick and soft land area. These frogs like dense vegetation, so plant the enclosure fairly heavily. Use logs and branches to help create cover in order to give them a sense of security. Leopard frogs cannot climb very well, so a long tank is preferred over a tall one. Separate the land from the water however you wish, but make sure the transition is gentle so the frogs can exit the water easily. Cover the bottom of the pond with gravel and ensure that the water is deep enough to allow the frog to fully submerge. Provide a floating log or shelf to allow the frogs to sit close to the water for security. Humidity and temperature are not a concern as these frogs are very tolerant of a wide range of conditions. Provide a 12 hour photoperiod with lighting above a screen top to prevent escape.

    Brian Robin (UncleChester)


    Leopard frogs are considered good beginner frogs because they are sturdy and tolerant. They are both nocturnal and diurnal. They like to be in heavy cover for protection and will wander around in hay fields or grassy forests in wet weather. This frog is very cold tolerant. Leopard frogs are hard-wired to hibernate and you can allow this to happen by reducing the temperature in the enclosure to around 2-6 °C (35-40 °F) for a few months in the winter. They will naturally reduce their activity and may even stop eating as winter approaches. They avoid predators by sitting still at the water's edge and hiding in the vegetation. They have a useful talent: when startled, they dive into the water, make an immediate 90 degree turn, and pop up elsewhere under cover, leaving the predator searching in the area of the original splash. Leopard frogs are wary and jumpy, so try not to approach the enclosure too quickly as they can easily tear up your hard work and possibly injure themselves by jumping around frantically.

    Brian Robin (UncleChester)


    The staple diet should be size-appropriate crickets. Be sure to gut-load crickets before feeding. Three or four crickets per frog every 2 days is a good starting point. It is also a good idea to vary the diet somewhat with invertebrates such as earthworms, waxworms, grubs, etc. These frogs will eat anything that will fit into their mouths. In the wild their diet includes other frogs, fish, and even small birds. There is no need to hand feed these frogs - just drop the food items into the enclosure and let the frogs hunt them down. Food should be dusted with a high quality vitamin supplement on a weekly basis.

    Males become sexually mature in 1-2 years and females in 2-3 years. Breeding takes place in the water but only after hibernation. The males sit at the water's edge and call for females. Northern Leopard Frogs call with a guttural low-pitched growl, while Southern Leopard Frogs have a complicated call that sounds a lot like a duck laughing! Fertilization of the eggs is external. Females lay eggs in clusters attached to plants under the water. Many females may lay eggs together in a community egg mass. The clusters can contain from 600 to over 7000 eggs. Eggs hatch from 2 to 17 days later, and the warmer the water the faster they will hatch . Tadpoles are brown or gray and eat plant material, detritus, and algae. Tadpoles metamorphose in 3 to 6 months. Newly metamorphosed froglets are about 2.5 cm (1 inch) long.

    Jo-Anna Brown (Jace)

    Jo-Anna Brown (Jace)

    First published on Wednesday August 4th 2010. Last updated Wednesday August 4th 2010.

    Article is ©2010 Paul W. Rust. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced or published in part or in whole without written permission from Paul W. Rust.

    Comments, suggestions and criticism welcomed!

    This article was originally published in forum thread: Leopard Frog Care - Rana pipiens (Schreber, 1782) and R. sphenocephala (1886) started by Paul Rust View original post
    Comments 8 Comments
    1. Bombina Bob's Avatar
      Bombina Bob -
      Awesome care guide! been looking for one of these forever!
    1. Bombina Bob's Avatar
      Bombina Bob -
      Awesome care sheet! I was wondering if this applies to the southern leopard frogs because Rana pipens is a threatened speciese in Britsh columbia
    1. Rebekah's Avatar
      Rebekah -
      I have a leopard frog that still has a very small portion of his tail left, but we have moved him into his new home (land/water). He seems happy, sometimes he is in on land, other times he is in the water.

      My question is, when will he start eating crickets/mealworms and what size should i start him off on? I asked petco and they said judge by the distance between eyes so i bought mini meal worms, but i am afraid he wont go after them as they dont move very fast. I dont want the little guy to starve, and am getting worried.

      I am a new frog mommy---help!!!
    1. Bombina Bob's Avatar
      Bombina Bob -
      You should be good for now Rebekah, Ranidae frogs will be fairly shy at first when eating, I would try crickets over mealies because they move faster. Time will tell!
    1. zane's Avatar
      zane -
      Is it possible to keep this with fire bellied toads and newts?
    1. Heatheranne's Avatar
      Heatheranne -
      Unfortunately no, the frogs will eventually poison the newts.
    1. Cliygh and Mia 2's Avatar
      Cliygh and Mia 2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Heatheranne View Post
      Unfortunately no, the frogs will eventually poison the newts.
      Actually vice-versa typically, both the Leopard frogs and Fire-bellied toads are large enough to eat the newts, and Leopard frogs are large enough at adult size to take a Fire-bellied toad as well. The newts would surely take a frog down with it due to its extreme toxins it has in its skin. The newt will also need large amounts of cool water, (55-68 Fahrenheit) whearas the frogs will need more land and warmer temperatures. (70-80 Fahrenheit) All in all, that type of tank is probably one of the worst mixed species tanks that anyone's done. Here's a few more articles to/for the original poster: http://www.caudata.org/cc/articles/M...isasters.shtml http://www.frogforum.net/content.php...-and-relatives http://www.caudata.org/cc/species/Cy...ientalis.shtml

      EDIT: Oops, didn't realize how old that this was, sorry!
    1. Bombina Bob's Avatar
      Bombina Bob -
      hey, i remember this thread (Ive done that before Xavier )
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