Pig Frogs

Pig Frogs are a large frog species, up to 5.5 inches in size, found in the Southern USA. Pig Frogs get their name from the calls they make which sound like a pig’s snort. They are mainly aquatic amphibians that typically have green or grey-green skin and are often confused with American Bullfrogs

Common NamePig Frog
Other NameLagoon Frog, Southern Bullfrog
Scientific NameLithobates grylio
LocationsSouthern USA
CharacteristicsGreen or grey-green skin, a pointed nose, large tympanum
ColorGreen, Grey-Green
OriginSouthern United States
Conservation StatusLeast Concern
Family Ranidae
GenusLithobates
SpeciesL. grylio
PoisonousNo
Max Length5.5 inches
Max Weight30 grams
Lifespan5 – 20 years

Pig Frogs are on the larger side of the scale compared to other frogs found in North America. Since they are large, Pig Frogs are hunted for their leg meat and served as a delicacy, notably in parts of the Southern States.

Differences: Pig Frogs vs American Bullfrogs

There are many similarities between Pig Frogs and American Bullfrogs. Like most aquatic frogs, Bullfrogs included, Pig Frogs have feet webbed, and powerful, muscular legs that are strong to help propel them through thick vegetation in water. Yet there are a few key differences between these two similar species.

Pig Frogs have either green or grey-green skin, and a cream-white belly to help them camouflage among the vegetation where they wade in water. Bullfrogs are also green but males have a distinct yellow belly.

One very noticeable difference between American Bullfrogs and Pig Frogs is their smaller tympanum. In addition, the brown-colored eardrums are quite large and stand out from their skin color. Pig Frogs also tend to have a sharp, pointed nose, whereas Bullfrog’s noses are rounder.

Their skin is sometimes covered with black or dark spots that cover their backs and hind limbs. If you find pig frogs interesting and would like to know more about them, then would you mind keeping reading?

Tips on How to Spot Pig Frogs

Although they can live on land for short periods of time, Pig Frogs are mostly aquatic animals. Therefore, they generally spend a considerable amount of time in water. Pig Frogs are native to the Southeastern United States and enjoy the lakes, marshes and swampy regions the Southern States have to offer.

One favorite habitat of Pig Frogs is cypress swamps. These frogs are also very fond of the vegetation-filled marshes found between South Carolina to Texas. The best time to go looking for Pig Frogs is at night when they are most active. Right after sunset is when they head out for food or look for mates if it is mating season.

Here are my top tips to spotting Pig Frogs:

  • Pig Frogs usually bask in the water in the daytime and move about on land at night.
  • Since it’s easier to spot them when on land, head out to look for them right after sunset
  • Bring a flashlight with you and be sure to carefully inspect the ground before taking a step
  • I also like to bring a camera with me and try to film them jumping!
  • During the mating season, male Pig Frogs snort like pigs to attract females. So if you follow the sound of the snorts, you’ll most likely see some Pig Frogs.
  • It’s a bit harder to find them when it’s off-mating season as the frogs will be quiet. Nevertheless, they can still be found eating at night.

Keep in mind that you may even see a few American Bullfrogs where you are located since they share similar habitats and nocturnal habits. Be sure to read the section above to correctly differentiate between the two species.

Interesting Facts About Pig Frogs

Here are some cool facts about Pig Frogs

  • Pig Frogs did not get their names because they look like pigs, rather the pig-like sounds they make.
  • Another reason they may be called Pig Frogs is because they eat anything that passes them by and can fit in their mouth including larger prey like small mice and small birds for larger-sized frogs.
  • Because of their resemblance to American Bullfrogs living within the same region, Pig Frogs are often called Southern Bullfrogs.
  • Pig Frogs can legally be hunted for their leg meat (with the correct licences and following certain rules) in a number of Southern States.
  • Female Pig Frogs are generally larger than males.
  • A single pig frog can lay up to 10,000 eggs during mating season.

More About Pig Frogs

Pig Frogs are well known for their characteristic mating calls. Therefore, they are an interesting species to study and have earned the attention of researchers worldwide. Learn more about these fascinating frogs in the following articles on our blog:

Questions Related to Pig Frogs

Are Pig Frogs poisonous? Pig Frogs are not poisonous. This species of amphibians do not have the special glands responsible for producing toxic substances like toads. Many people think the large tympana on the pig frogs’ bodies can produce toxins, mistaking them for parotid glands.

What do Pig Frogs eat? Pig Frogs, like most frogs, are carnivores. They typically eat a variety insects and small fish. Since they are large frogs, they may also eat larger prey like small mice or birds. They usually prefer to eat grasshoppers, flies, crickets, worms, slugs, fish eggs, and bug larve.

What are Pig Frogs predators? Many animals like to eat Pig Frogs, and the smaller the frog the more predators they have including snakes, owls, crows, rodents, ducks, racoons, herons, and humans. They are often preyed on since Pig Frogs do not have poisonous glands to deter predators.

What do Pig Frogs sound like? Pig Frogs typically make a sound similar to a grunting pig. This grunt is their mating call, and during the mating season, you can hear their calls from up to 1 mile away. This pig-like call is the main reason they are called “Pig Frogs.”

How long do Pig Frogs live? Pig Frogs typically live between 5 to 12 years in the wild, but can live up to 20 years in captivity. Pig Frogs generally have a much shorter lifespan in the wild due to predators, parasites, and environmental factors.

Do Pig Frogs hibernate? Pig Frogs generally hibernate un burrows close to water during the Winter. Just before their hibernation period, Pig Frogs eat enough food to last them through their period of inactivity.

How many eggs do Pig Frogs lay? Female Pig Frogs can lay up to 10,000 eggs per clutch. However, there is a high possibility that most of those pig frog eggs won’t make it into adulthood. This low chance of survival in Pig Frog eggs is usually due to predators feeding on them.

Are Pig Frogs endangered? Pig Frogs are listed as the least concern on the IUCN red list of endangered animals. While they have a substantial population that will keep them from becoming extinct anytime soon. However, habitat loss is gradually affecting their numbers.

Sources

Stejneger, L. 1901. A new species of bullfrog from Florida and the Gulf Coast. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 24: 211–215.

Hammerson, G.A., Hedges, B. & Joglar, R. 2008. Lithobates grylio. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T58611A11810060. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T58611A11810060.en