Green Frog Lithobates clamitans

Description: Adult Morphology: A large, green to olive-colored frog with an obvious green face. There may be some darker dorsal mottling, but some individuals have none. In males, the tympanum is much larger than in the females. This frog's underbelly is mostly white with some darker mottling present in most individuals. banding is usually present on the legs. Dorsolateral folds are present.

Size: This species grows to around 3-4in snout-vent length.

Larvae: A large olive-brown tadpole that usually grows to around 4in length. The tailfin is heavily mottled.

Eggs: Females lay up to 5,000 eggs in a film on top of the water.

Similar Species: The American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) is most likely to be confused with this species. Green frogs have a dorsolateral fold that bullfrogs lack and green frogs also have more distinct banding on the hind legs than bullfrogs. In general, bullfrogs grow much larger than green frogs as well.

Distribution: The green frog is found throughout much of the eastern United States and Canada from Texas and Minnesota to the east coast.

The Green Frog is common and widespread throughout Indiana.

Activity: Green frogs are somewhat active year round in the southern part of the state. Here, they often spend time around springs and caves during the winter. They are most active from March to October.

Breeding Season: Green frogs typically start calling sometime during May and will continue breeding sporadically throughout the summer. The frogs rarely continue calling into August. After being deposited, the eggs take a few days to hatch and the tadpoles transform sometime during that fall or the following spring depending on how late in the year the eggs were laid.

Taxonomy: The northern green frog (Lithobates clamitans melanota) is the only subspecies that occurs in Indiana. The green frog belongs to the genus Lithobates and is in the family Ranidae which is represented in Indiana by 8 different species.

Ecology: Habitat: This species can be found in virtually any aquatic habitat. They seem to prefer cool, clear, flowing streams and rivers, but they are also found in woodland pools, lakes, or even stagnant muddy marshes. Green frogs are often turned up under rocks, logs, and leaf litter near the water's edge. They may also be seen sitting around the edge of small pools and ponds. When disturbed, this species will promptly leap into the water, giving off a high pitched yelp, and burying themselves into the leaf litter or mud. Green frogs may be seen crossing roads or hopping around out in the open near permanent water on rainy nights.

Diet: Green frogs feed on a variety of invertebrates. They mainly feed on insects with spiders and mollusks being taken occasionally too. Green frogs will ocasionally prey on small fish and frogs as well.

Reproduction and Life History: In Indiana, this frog tends to breed in cool, permanent bodies of water such as woodland ponds and creeks. Amplexus occurs in shallow water and the eggs are fertilized externally by the males.

Call: Green frogs have a distinct low-pitched single note call that is often likened to the plucking of a loose banjo string. The call occurs at irregular intervals.

Conservation: Green frogs are wide spread and adapt well to habitat disturbances. While bullfrogs may outcompete this species in some ponds, it not likely a major threat to the stability of green frog populations as this species breeds in a broader variety of habitats than does the bullfrog.


Brodman, R. 2003. Amphibians and Reptiles from Twenty-three Counties of Indiana. Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science 112.1:43-54.

Conant, R. and J. T . Collins. 1998. Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Third Edition, Expanded. Houghton Mifflin, New York, New York

Finkler, M. S. 2011. Lithobates clamitans. Green Frog. Geographic distribution. Herpetological Review 43.4:563.

Hoffman, A. and S. Shepard 2014. Lithobates clamitans. Green Frog. Geographic distribution (Putnam County). Herpetological Review 45:87.

Maves, A., R. Haken, and L. Landowski. 2011. Lithobates clamitans. Green Frog. Geographic distribution. Herpetological Review 43.2:237.

Minton, S. A. Jr. 2001. Amphibians and Reptiles of Indiana. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis, IN

Pierson, T. P. 2012. Lithobates clamitans. Green Frog. Geographic distribution. Herpetological Review 43.2:300.

Distribution Map
Distribution map of Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans)