Northern Leopard Frog

October 23, 2015
Heidi Rockney and Karen Wu
Northern Leopard Frog

Northern Leopard Frog
Photo: Dennis Paulson

Name: Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens)
Order: Frogs (Anura)
Family: True Frogs (Ranidae)

What they look like

  • 5-11cm
  • Green to brown with dark spots that are surrounded by a halo of white
  • Underside is white as well as the stripe on their upper jaw
  • Have ridges that start behind eye and run down backs that can be lighter in color

Where they live

  • View a map of where they live
  • In Washington state current population and range is not known, it is thought that they used to be more widespread than last consensus.
  • Prefer slow, cold water with lots of plants.
  • Will use temporary or permanent water sources in meadows, woodland and marshes.
  • Do not stay in breeding areas when not breeding, can be found in undergrowth away from water.


  • Breeding season is March to June, depending on temperature and elevation.
  • Eggs are laid in tight masses and many frogs will lay their eggs together in calm shallow water.
  • Eggs can hatch in just a few days.

Cool Biology Facts

  • Hibernate in winter at bottom of ponds or streams either buried in sediment or under rocks or logs
  • In Canada leopard frogs were used in most biology classes at schools as dissection specimens
  • When picked up, can utter a very loud ‘scream’
  • If frightened they will often jump in a zigzag pattern to the closest water source and dive in.


  • Northern leopard frog populations were once widespread throughout the northern United States and Canada, but current populations are decreasing.
  • Main threats include introduced nonnative species and habitat loss.
  • View their status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Distribution Map

Map of Northern Leopard Frog distribution in Washington state. Learn more on the NatureMapping Foundation website.

Explore more of the Amphibians & Reptiles of Washington or check out All About Amphibians.

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