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