Green Frog
Lithobates clamitans

Common Name:

Green Frog

Scientific Name:

Lithobates clamitans



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


clamitans is Latin meaning "loud calling"

Average Length:

2.3 - 3.5 in. (5.7 - 9 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

Record length:

4.3 in. (10.8 cm)

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Adults of this species generally range from 54 to 90 mm (2 to 3.5 in) in length *11407* *1014*. Dorsal coloration is highly variable but is typically green or brown with obscure brown spots or blotches. The ventrum is white and occasionally marked with dark spots particularly in the young *1014*. Blue-colored specimens have been found; these specimens lack yellow pigment *11407*. Throats of males may be bright yellow *11407* *1014* *11406*. Males also possess a larger tympanum and stouter forelegs and thumbs than females *1014*. In both sexes the dorsal lateral fold only extends to the middle of the back; it does not reach the groin *1014* *11407*. Young specimens typically have small dark dorsal spots and mottled ventrum *11407*. Tadpoles are 74 to 100 mm in length with a body to tail ratio of 1:1.8 *11407*. Tail fin is darkly mottled. Body may have a few dark spots. The intestinal coil is not visible. The oral disc is strongly emarginated with large, flattened, heavily pigmented papillae. The upper jaw is slightly cuspate with labial tooth rows 2/3.

REPRODUCTION: Mating mainly occurs between May and June *1014*. Males defend territories and are more likely to successfully mate with a higher quality territory *11406*. Male breeding call is an explosive, twangy "c'tung" resembling a loose banjo string *1014* *11407*. Call may be expressed as a single note or repeated three or four times with the notes becoming progressively softer *11407*. Research has shown that this species uses the olfactory senses to locate breeding sites *11406*. These sites are shallow freshwater ponds, ditches, and sluggish rivers *11407*. This species is typically 1-2 years old at first reproduction *11406* *1014*. In one study, it was found that 54.3% of males mated successfully, and successful males had 1.48 matings on average *11406*. Females lay approximately 3000 eggs in a large filmy clump on the water's surface *1014* *11406*. Females sometimes lay 2 clutches in a season *11406*. Females may lay clutches together *11284*. Larvae transform in a few months if in a temporary waterbody, and may overwinter if the waterbody is more permanent *11284*. The mean length at metamorphosis is 32 mm.

BEHAVIOR: This species typically has a home range between 20 and 200 square meters (mean=60 sq. m.) *11406*. Males defend territories using site attachment, encounter calls, visual or postural displays, chasing intruders, jump attacks, and wrestling *11406*. Territory call varies from advertisement call. Territories are typically at the margins of ponds. Size and age appear to be the primary factors determining successful defense of a territory. Smaller males without territories may exhibit satellite behavior. This is usually performed when a territory has been abandoned and involves the interception of a female moving towards a calling male. This species also emits a high-pitched distress or alarm call before leaping to safety after being disturbed *11406* *1014*. This species is an opportunistic feeder, primarily choosing arthropods, snails and worms *11284*.

ORIGIN: This species is native to Virginia.

LIMITING FACTORS: This species is typically found wherever there is shallow, semi-permanent freshwater particularly along the edges of lakes and ponds *11407*.

POPULATION PARAMETERS: This is an abundant species found wherever there is shallow fresh water *11407*. Year class mortality can occur with severe freezing; ponds with overwintering tadpoles may freeze *11406*.

AQUATIC/TERRESTRIAL ASSOCIATIONS: This species is found in freshwater springs, streams, ditches, and along the edges of lakes and ponds *11407*. They will use temporary and permanent bodies of water for mating *11406*. It may be found in the grassy margins of standing water or in swamps and marshes *11284*. Its habitat preferences closely overlap those of the bullfrog.

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
  • 11406 - Duellman, William E. and, Trueb, Linda, 1986, Biology of Amphibians, 671 pgs., The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore
  • 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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