Pickerel Frog
Lithobates palustris

Common Name:

Pickerel Frog

Scientific Name:

Lithobates palustris



Lithobates is Greek, Litho means "A stone", bates means "One that walks or haunts"


palustris is Latin meaning "of the marsh"

Average Length:

1.8 - 3 in. (5.7 - 10 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

Record length:

4.5 in. (11.4 cm)

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: This is a medium-sized to moderately large frog, typically reaching lengths of 44-87 mm (1.75-3.5 in). It has two parallel rows of squarish spots on its back. There are dorso-lateral folds extending towards the groin area. Concealed surfaces of hind legs and groin are bright yellow to orange. There is a light line along the upper jaw. The ventrum is white and may be mottled. Young individuals will have a metallic luster but no bright colors on leg surfaces and the lower lip will be shaded with dark pigment. Glandular secretions from the skin make this species unlikely prey of snakes *11407* *1014*.

REPRODUCTION: Breeding occurs from March to May. The male breeding call is a steady low-pitched snore often given while completely submerged. Breeding is frequently associated with the onslaught of heavy rains. The female lays clusters of about 2500 eggs on structures in ponds, pools, or other standing water. The tadpole or larval stage lasts between 70 and 80 days. A newly transformed frog will be 19-27 mm long *11407* *1014* *11284*.

BEHAVIOR: This species is found in many types of aquatic habitats but may venture into grassy fields or weed covered areas during the summer. Individuals can also be found in the twilight areas of cave entrances. Males often call while completely submerged. This species'diet consists primarily of small arthropods *11284* *1014* *11407*.

ORIGIN: Native

LIMITING FACTORS: This species requires a moist environment with standing water in late winter for breeding *11284*.


AQUATIC/TERRESTRIAL ASSOCIATIONS: This species is found in a variety of aquatic habitats near wooded areas. This includes bogs, rocky ravines, meadow streams, and floodplain swamps. During summer, they frequently move into grassy fields or herbaceous-covered areas. They are also often seen in the twilight zone of cave entrances *1014* *11407* *11284*.

References for Life History

  • 1014 - Martof, B.S., Palmer, W.M., Bailey, J.R., Harrison, III J.R., 1980, Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia, 264 pgs., UNC Press, Chapel Hill, NC
  • 11284 - Wilson, L.A., 1995, Land manager's guide to the amphibians and reptiles of the South, 360 pp. pgs., The Nature Conservancy, Southeastern Region, Chapel Hill, NC
  • 11407 - Conant, Roger and, Collins, John T., 1998, Peterson Field Guide: Reptiles and Amphibians, Eastern/Central North America, 616 pgs., Houghton Mifflin Company;, Boston


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s. leopard frog vs. pickerel frog

Pittsylvania Co. Pittsylvania Co. Pittsylvania Co.

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