Green Frog

Image of a green frog
Scientific Name
Lithobates clamitans (formerly Rana clamitans)
Ranidae (true frogs) in the order Anura (frogs)

The green frog looks similar to a bullfrog but is smaller and has a ridge of skin along the sides of the back, from behind the eye to midbody, that is not found on bullfrogs. A medium-sized frog, the general color varies from green to greenish tan to brown, with the upper lip and head usually green. There may be faint dark spots on the back, and the legs usually have indistinct dark spots or bars. Adult males have a bright yellow throat. The call is an explosive “bong” that sounds like a loose banjo string.

There are two subspecies of green frogs in Missouri. Northern green frog (L. clamitans melanota), described above, and bronze frog (L. clamitans clamatans), a smaller, brownish or bronze frog with yellow lip and head, which is restricted to the southeastern part of the state.

Similar species: The American bullfrog is larger and lacks the prominent skin fold from behind the eye to midbody.


Length (snout to vent): 2¼ to 3½ inches.

Where To Find
Green Frog Distribution Map

Nearly statewide. The northern green frog subspecies intergrades with and is replaced by the bronze frog subspecies in southeastern Missouri.

In the Ozarks, green frogs live along rocky creeks and in sloughs and woodland ponds. In northern Missouri, the species occurs in farm ponds and marshes. When disturbed, a green frog will quickly jump into the water, often emitting a high-pitched squawk as it jumps. Green frogs are active between April and mid-October, sometimes into early December if the weather is mild.

This species presumably eats a variety of small animals, including beetles, spiders, millipedes, snails, true bugs, flies, and small crayfish.

The green frog is a game animal in Missouri and is protected by a season and bag limit. Consult the Wildlife Code of Missouri for regulations.

Life Cycle

Breeding is from late April until mid-August, peaking in June. Any permanent water can be a breeding site: ponds, swamps, and sloughs. Males compete for choice calling areas with abundant emergent plants. Females lay eggs in a wide, floating mass on the water surface. Each can lay more than one clutch of over 4,000 eggs each season. Tadpoles hatch within several days but do not metamorphose into froglets until the following summer (those of the bronze subspecies may do it the same year).

Frogging is like a cross between hunting and fishing. Consult the Wildlife Code of Missouri for regulations. Frog legs have a mild flavor similar to that of fish. They can be battered and fried or sautéed in butter. They make a good base for Cajun dishes that call for fish or shellfish.

Frogs are predators that help keep populations of insects and other small animals in balance. They, and especially their eggs, tadpoles, and young froglets, become food for both aquatic and terrestrial predators ranging from water bugs to fish to grackles to raccoons.

Media Gallery
Similar Species

Where to See Species

Bittern Bottoms Conservation Area is located in Cass County in the Grand River bottoms abouteight miles southeast of Harrisonville.
About Reptiles and Amphibians in Missouri
Missouri’s herptiles comprise 43 amphibians and 75 reptiles. Amphibians, including salamanders, toads, and frogs, are vertebrate animals that spend at least part of their life cycle in water. They usually have moist skin, lack scales or claws, and are ectothermal (cold-blooded), so they do not produce their own body heat the way birds and mammals do. Reptiles, including turtles, lizards, and snakes, are also vertebrates, and most are ectothermal, but unlike amphibians, reptiles have dry skin with scales, the ones with legs have claws, and they do not have to live part of their lives in water.