Pickerel Frogs

By the time you read this, it will be spring, meteorological spring. Spring to me actually begins in February. The days continue to get longer, red maple and elm flowers pop, and frogs, peepers, chorus and pickerel frogs, are all calling. I know there may indeed be some cold days between now and April, but it won’t last long, a few days at most. Winter’s done.

If you’ve been down into our wetlands in the last week and a half you may have noticed a low, snoring sound coming from the water’s edge. You may have, or may not have, been able to identify the source of the noise. If you’ve not, I’ll inform you of that now.

The snoring is coming from a frog, or frogs, pickerel frogs. They’re medium sized frogs which, in theses parts, start the breeding cycle in February and may go into April.

A potential mating of pickerel frogs.

Pickerel frogs are sometimes mistaken for southern leopard frogs. They’re similar except that they lack a light-colored spot on their tympanic membrane or ear drum (leopard frogs do have a whitish spot there) and the undersides of their legs are bright yellow or orange, unlike leopard frogs. Locally, the background color of a pickerel frog’s skin is usually brown or tan in color whereas leopard frog’s background color is often bright green.

Note light spot on tympanum and green back.

Pickerel frogs measure from 2” – 3” in length. Males are typically a bit smaller than females.

The pickerel frogs are in the water to breed. Eggs are deposited in globular masses, usually attached to a twig or plant stem. They hatch in about two weeks. The tadpoles will morph into frogs in about 10 – 12 weeks.

Mass of eggs attached to twig or stem.

Sometime in late May to the middle of June you may come across a summer camper or two with miniature versions of the adults (newly morphed from tadpoles) in their eager hands.

Newly morphed pickerel frog in hands of happy camper.

See you then, if not sooner.

Parting shot of pickerel frog.

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