American Bullfrog

American Bullfrogs are large green frogs, often found in streams and ponds during the summer. They have a distinctive bellow-sounding croak that can be heard as far as a quarter mile from its location. American Bullfrogs are the largest native species in North America and can be found across the continent, though their habitat is threatened by human development.

Common NameAmerican Bullfrog
Other NameBullfrog
Scientific NameRana catesbeiana
LocationsNorth America (East)Pacific Northwest 
CharacteristicsLarge green body with a yellow belly for males and white belly for females
ColorGreen or Greenish-brown
OriginNorth America
Conservation StatusLeast Concern
FamilyRanidae
GenusLithobates
SpeciesR. Catesbeiana
PoisonousNo
Max Length9 inches
Max Weight12 oz
Lifespan8-10 years

Bullfrogs, like all aquatic frogs, are amphibians and they need to be near a water source to survive. They strive in freshwater habitats, such as streams, ponds, and lakes. In the summer, you may hear the distinctive deep bellow of the Bullfrog if you go near a fish-free pond. Like most aquatic frogs, Bullfrogs prefer ponds that do not have fish to protect their tadpoles from predators.

Interesting American Bullfrog Facts

  • Bullfrogs are not native to North America and are considered an invasive species in some places with detrimental consequences for native animals.
  • A bullfrog’s color can depend on its habitat. For example, coastal bullfrogs are generally darker green than Bullfrogs that live near mountains.
  • Bullfrogs do not stalk their prey. They are ambush predators so they wait for their food to come to them. They catch prey with their tongue and eat it whole and alive.
  • The male’s distinctive deep croak can be heard a quarter-mile away.
  • Bullfrogs hibernate underwater during winter.
  • American Bullfrogs reach sexual maturity after 3 to 5 years.
  • The American Bullfrog is the state amphibian in Oklahoma, Missouri, and Iowa.
  • A female Bullfrog can lay up to 25,000 eggs.
  • Bullfrogs can leap 1 to 2 meters (3 to 6 feet).
  • Bullfrogs absorb oxygen through their skin when they are underwater
  • American Bullfrogs can take up to 2 years to fully transform from the tadpole stage.

Check out the video below to see a Bullfrog tadpole

American Bullfrogs are Hunted For Their Legs

Unlike smaller, more timid frog species, it’s not hard to find the American Bullfrog. Late spring and early summer are the best times to go looking for bullfrogs and the easiest way to track them is to listen for their bellow. Frog’s skin is sensitive to vibrations in the ground so for the best chance at spotting one, you should use a boat to approach from the water.

Bullfrog legs are edible and popular activity in many states is to go bullfrog hunting. Since Bullfrogs are large, invasive in some places, and have meaty legs, they are a popular delicacy notably in the South of the USA. The only edible part of the bullfrog is the legs. Bullfrog legs are often enjoyed stir-fried, deep-fried, or on the BBQ. If you catch a large enough Bullfrog, this can be a satisfying meal but be sure to follow the Bullfrog hunting rules and regulations in your State.

More About American Bullfrogs

American bullfrogs are amazing creatures with unique sounds, colors, and mannerisms. Seeing an American bullfrog in the wild can be an incredible experience especially since they are so large! Learn more about American Bullfrogs in our dedicated resources below:

Questions Related to American Bullfrogs

 With an animal like the bullfrog, it’s no wonder you might have some more questions. Identifying bullfrogs correctly is essential if you’re trying to study them in their natural habitat.

How Often do American Bullfrogs Reproduce? The American Bullfrog breeds once a year. Male bullfrogs bellow to attract a female and reproduce by amplexus during late spring or early summer. Tadpoles may take up to 2 years to transform into frogs. Adults reach sexual maturity after 3 to 5 years.

What do American Bullfrogs Sound Like? The male bullfrog croak sounds like a bellow and is often described as “Jug-o-rum”. It is a very distinctive, deep-sounding croak and a listener is unlikely to mistake it for another frog.

What do American Bullfrogs Eat? American Bullfrogs are carnivores and eat a wide variety of large prey. They generally wait for their food to come to them and will eat anything that can fit in their mouths including small snakes, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.

What are American Bullfrogs Predators? Juvenile Bullfrogs have a large number of predators including herons, turtles, raccoons, and water snakes, and humans. Adult Bullfrogs tend to have fewer predators due to their large size making it easier for them to become invasive in some regions.

How Long do American Bullfrogs Make Noise? Male American Bullfrogs make noise in the spring and summer when they are actively and looking for a mate. Bullfrogs hibernate in the winter and don’t make noise. 

Why Are Bullfrogs so Loud? Male Bullfrogs are loud because they are trying to attract female Bullfrogs during mating season. They may also be warning other male frogs to stay away, or defending their territory.

Are American Bullfrogs Endangered? American Bullfrogs are not endangered. While some of their natural habitat in the Eastern United States has been developed, they still thrived across the country. Bullfrogs are so numerous on the West Coast they are considered invasive and a threat to other local frog populations.

Are American Bullfrogs Poisonous? American Bullfrogs are not poisonous to humans and their legs are often used in popular dishes across the South of the United States. Like all amphibians, Bullfrogs may carry viral and bacterial diseases such as salmonella so 20-second hand-washing with warm water and soap is key when handling them.

Sources

The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians (New York, N.Y.: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992). Dickerson, Mary C. The Frog Book (New York, N.Y.: Dover Publications, Inc. 1969). 

Martof, Bernard S., William M. Palmer, et. al. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1980).