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Discover Nature: American Bullfrog

Missouri Department of Conservation

Listen at the water’s edge this week, and you’ll likely hear Missouri’s largest frog, and official state amphibian.

Growing up to eight-inches long, the American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) ranges from green to olive to brown, with small, dark blotches on its back, a large, round external eardrum (or tympanum) behind the eye, and distinct brown bars on its hind legs.

Bullfrogs are ambush-style predators that will eat any live prey they can fit in their mouths, including insects, fish, mice, birds, and snakes. 

During breeding season, males are highly territorial and physically aggressive with each other as they defend calling stations.  Females can lay more than 20,000 eggs per clutch in shallow water, which hatch in 4-5 days.  Tadpoles turn to froglets in about a year, but won’t reach adult size for another 2-3 years. 

Find bullfrogs hiding in various types of vegetation at the water’s edge.  When disturbed, they escape with powerful jumps into the water.  Young bullfrogs often give a short, high-pitched yelp as they leap to safety. 

Learn more about the American bullfrog with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Online Field Guide.

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

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