Pickerel Frogs in the Water

Top Photo: Male pickerel frog on his way to pond to seek a mate.

Besides spring peepers and chorus frogs, pickerel frogs are one of the earliest breeding frogs here in central North Carolina. Starting in February you can hear their rolling, snore-like call coming from low wet areas including ephemeral and permanent bodies of water. They’re calling right now here at the museum. I’ve already spotted eggs.

Adult pickerel frogs are about 2 – 3.5 inches. Females average larger than males (measured from tip of snout to vent, or area between hind legs).

Males seeking mates.

Competition may be steep as all the the area’s pickerel frogs converge on nearby wetlands to select partners and deposit large masses of eggs, usually attached to a fallen submerged twig or stem of submergent vegetation.

Male and female in amplexus.
pickerel frog egg mass.

The eggs are fertilized by the male as they emerge from the female and will hatch in a couple of weeks. The tadpoles that survive will morph into frogs in about 2.5 to 3 months.

A recently morphed pickerel frog held by summer camper (mid June).

After they mate, the frogs typically head back to wooded upland areas or meadows surrounding the pond. Besides an occasional call during a period of unusually warm weather in winter, we may not hear or see a pickerel frog until the following year when they hike down to the wetlands to do it all again.

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