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American Bullfrog

(Rana catesbeiana)

Overview

Bullfrogs are brown to green in color, often with dark brown spots. Their bellies range from white to yellow and are sometimes marked with black spots or patterns. Their hind feet are fully webbed.

Male bullfrogs emit a deep bellow that sounds like “jug-a-rum.” Extremely territorial, they will aggressively defend their land, even wrestling with rivals.

Females lay thousands of eggs (as many as 20,000) during the summer breeding season. In the southern part of a bullfrog’s range, metamorphosis can take as few as 79 day; in the colder, northern part of their range, it can take two to three years.

A Note From the Caretaker

During the cold winter season, bullfrogs hibernate in mud and litter at the bottom of ponds, lakes or the slow-moving portions of streams and rivers.

Quick Facts

Learn more about the American bullfrog! Did you know that a bullfrog's call can be heard from half a mile away?

This highly aquatic frog prefers still, shallow waters, like those found at the edges of lakes and ponds or sluggish portions of streams and rivers. The bullfrog’s natural range extends from Nova Scotia to central Florida, from the Atlantic coast to Wisconsin, and across the Great Plains to the Rockies.

Bullfrogs are ambush predators and will eat almost any animal they can capture and swallow, including worms, insects, crayfish, fishes, other frogs, snakes, small turtles, small mammals and even birds.

They are the largest North American frog, weighing up to 1 pound and measuring up to 8 inches.

Bullfrogs are abundant in their native habitat, playing a role in insect control and energy transfer in the ecosystem. In places like California and Arizona, where bullfrogs aren’t naturally occurring but have been introduced by humans, bullfrog populations are skyrocketing. Native populations of western frog species are in decline due to competition for resources and predation. As a result, some of those native frog species are being driven toward extinction.

A wide variety of predators feed on bullfrog eggs, tadpoles and adults. These include aquatic insects, crayfish, fishes, other bullfrogs, aquatic turtles, snakes, birds and mammals, including humans.

Meet the Expert Jack Cover

As the National Aquarium's general curator, Jack Cover ensures that all animals in our care thrive in healthy, beautiful habitats.

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