While walking along the edges of the Big Muddy River in southern Illinois, I often come across this spotted amphibian. It tends to be more brown than the Northern and Southern Leopard Frogs I have encountered.
The Leopard Frog’s common name originates from the irregular, dark colored spotting on its back. It has long, powerful legs, and is capable of jumping surprising distances.
Despite the “plains” name, this frog is almost always found in or near permanent bodies of water, such as rivers, creeks and ponds. Its identification feature to differentiate it from other Leopard Frogs, is that the ridge of skin along each side of the back is broken toward the hind end.
The Plains Leopard Frog feeds on a variety of invertebrates. It mainly uses a “sit and wait strategy.” Once a food items has been sighted, it will stalk and attempt to grab it.
Its species name is blairi and it is sometimes referred to as Blair’s Leopard Frog, named after the noted zoologist and University of Texas professor, Dr. W. Frank Blair.