Recognized Subspecies in VA: None
Size: 3- 6 inches
Status: Least Concern
Frog legs anyone? Well, this is the species they come from. The American Bullfrog is the largest frog in Virginia. Their tadpoles can grow to the size of a golf ball. These tadpoles are often very green, with small black dots all over, but these dots do not extend to the lower caudal. Bullfrogs are common sounds of summer near ponds and swamps. They produce a loud, deep, reverberating “JUG-o-RUM”. This species is a quite aggressive eater as well. Normally, this species feeds on large insects, but fish, other frogs, baby turtles, mice, small snakes, and even small birds have been consumed by Bullfrogs. I have caught this monster frog sometimes on fishing lures thrown too close to the bank. Bullfrogs pose no threat to native wildlife populations here in Virginia, but there are great concerns out west in states like California, where they have been introduced. Here in Virginia they are valuable to keep small animal populations down, as well as being a good food source to large fish, snakes, Common Snapping Turtles, herons, and Raccoons.
Oftentimes, adult Bullfrogs can be identified purely based on their monstrous size, but they are not born as adults. The Bullfrog is often brown to green, and sometimes has black marbling over its body. Bullfrogs are the only common Virginia Lithobates species to lack coastal folds. That said, Bullfrogs develop a pair of coastal folds late in the tadpole stage. These sink into the skin as the tail shortens, but these can sometimes last a couple weeks after the frog has transitioned. They have very wide heads, and sometimes plain, but often marbled bellies.
Similar Species: The Green Frog is commonly confused for this species, but Green Frogs usually have clear coastal folds, more V-shaped heads, and less webbing on the hind feet. The Carpenter Frog lacks these folds as well, but Carpenters are very rare, and typically have an orange dorsal-lateral stripe and dark sides.
Call is a deep, rolling "Jug-o-Rummm". Will produce a squeaky scream when threatened.
Maps and External Sources
Herping Virginia encourages all naturalists to practice ethical, safe, and sustainable herping. The use of proper herping methods and techniques is beneficial to both wildlife and herpers. Visit the links below for more information.