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Green Frog

Rana clamitans melanota (Rafinesque)

Green Frogs look something like small Bullfrogs, but their colour varies from yellow to green or bronze, sometimes with brown spots on the back. Some males, particularly individuals in shaded woodland ponds, are black on the back. A few metallic blue individuals have been found. Look for a ridge above the eye that extends part way down the back: this will distinguish Green Frogs from Bullfrogs - in Bullfrogs the ridge curves down right behind the eardrum.

Green Frogs are common in lakes, ponds and streams. Practically any body of fresh water is potential habitat, whether it is small or large, temporary or permanent, with or without plant life.

Breeding is in June and July. Males spread out among the shallows. The larger dominant males challenge other males that attempt to enter the best vegetated spawning sites. The male's call has been compared to the sound of a loose banjo string. You will hear it day and night, but especially during the first hours of daylight. After spawning, the female extrudes from 1,500 to about 5,000 eggs in a film-like mass among the surface vegetation. The tadpoles overwinter under the silt and dead plants on the bottom and transform the following summer, about one year after hatching. The adults stay in the pond and hibernate in early autumn.

Green Frogs eat a great variety of small land and water creatures. Beetles, bugs, spiders, ants, moth larvae and snails are the big items.

Additional Facts and Details

The family Ranidae of typical frogs consists of 45 genera and 586 species and is distributed nearly worldwide.

The genus Rana is represented in the Maritimes by 6 species in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, while 3 occur on Prince Edward Island.

The toes on the front legs are unwebbed.

Breeding males can be told from females by the swollen base of the thumbs on the forelegs. This is related to the tight holding they do during amplexus.

Rarely, a Green Frog is found which is partly blue instead of green. The green frog colour is a combination of structural blue and a yellow pigment; if the yellow is absent, the blue shows brightly. Dark metallic blue animals have been seen in Sherbrooke Lake (Lunenburg County), Garden of Eden (Pictou County), and Minard Brook (Queens County).

Size: body length of 37 newly transformed young ranged from 2.8 to 3.9 cm. Adult males, 91 measured, from 7.0 to 9.8 cm. Adult females, 68 measured, 6.7 to 10.8 cm.

The dorsolateral ridges are distinct and extend almost the entire length of the trunk. Often the ridges are interrupted in one or more places before they end.

Distribution in Canada: Maritimes west to the Ontario-Manitoba border. Has been successfully introduced to scattered localities in Newfoundland and southwestern British Columbia. In the United States, south to North Carolina and west to Minnesota and Oklahoma, but absent from most of Illinois. Has also been introduced into Washington and Utah.

In Nova Scotia, Green Frogs are widespread throughout the mainland and Cape Breton Island.

Earliest spring record for overwintering tadpoles is April 16, in 1975, at Colpton, Lunenburg County. Earliest record for adults is May 1, 1980, at Apple River, Cumberland County.

Spring Peepers have been found in the stomachs of Green Frogs. They also may eat their own tadpoles.

Latest fall record is November 5, in 1982, when 11 frogs were seen on a wet highway at Forties Settlement area in Lunenburg County. Ten were young matured that summer, one was an older adult.

Frog Species

Eastern American Toad

Northern Spring Peeper

Green Frog

Wood Frog

Northern Leopard Frog

Pickerel Frog

Mink Frog


Frog Information

Watching Frogs

Are Frogs Disappearing?