Pickerel Frog

Pickerel Frogs are the only native toxic frog species found in different regions of the United States. These medium sized frogs are often confused with another species called the Leopard Frogs. The Pickerel Frogs secrete a toxic substance from their skin which is poisonous enough to kill much larger animals.

Scientific Classification

Rana palustris

Table Of Content

Scientific Classification

Rana palustris


These creatures are often confused with another frog species called the Northern Leopard Frogs. There are many similarities in the way the members of these two species look. However, there are some fine distinctions between their skin colors and textures. Here is a general description of the Pickerel Frogs.

Color: Their color may vary from dark green to greenish grey and olive. They have two cream colored ridges along the sides of their body. Dark rectangular marks arranged in two parallel rows cover the dorsal sides of their body. The female frogs are of a darker color than the males. These frogs have a bright orange coloration in their groin and underbelly area differentiating them from the Northern leopard Frogs.

Size: The pickerel Frogs are a medium sized frog species growing anywhere between 2 to 3 inches in length. Female frogs are larger in size.

Body: They usually have a skinny appearance with long legs and smooth skin. The dorsal sides of their body have a pale white coloration.

Head: Dark rectangular marks cover the back of their head. They have a white outline along their upper jaw. These frogs also have large bulging eyes.

Pickerel Frog Picture
Picture 1 – Pickerel Frog


These frogs are natives to the United States. The western range of habitat of this species extends to places like Wisconsin, Eastern Iowa, Southeast regions of Minnesota and Eastern Texas. The southern habitation range includes Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and Carolina. The northern range extends to the southern parts of Canada including Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick


These frogs are semi aquatic in nature preferring cool environments and clear water. They inhabit in grasslands or woodlands with enough vegetation for them to be able to take cover and an easy access to water. They can be found in places like streams, reservoirs and rocky ravines.


The adult frogs of this species usually feed on land. They eat a wide range of invertebrates and insects including caterpillars, spiders, snails and beetles. The tadpoles of this species are herbivorous feeding on algae and other water plants.


The behavior patterns of these frogs are quite similar to many other frog species.

  • This species is basically nocturnal being most active during night.
  • These frogs are usually found near their wetland habitats during winter. However, they wander in grasslands and woodlands in summer.
  • Sometimes they wander far from their habitation area in order to forage for food.


Other frogs like the Bull Frogs and some snakes like Garter Snakes are immune to the toxic secretion of the Pickerel Frogs being capable to prey on them.


The green-brown color of these frogs helps them to hide in vegetations and grasslands to avoid predation. They secrete a toxic substance from their skin that can kill medium sized animals if they try to eat them.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

This species become reproductively mature once they reach 2 years of age. Their reproductive season starts in April and continues through May. Reproduction takes place in water (aquatic). The male frogs call in a deep snoring voice to attract the females.

Images of Pickerel Frog
Picture 2 – Pickerel Frog Image

The female frogs lay eggs and attach them to underwater vegetations. The number of eggs in a single cluster may be anywhere between 2,000 and 3,000. The eggs are externally fertilized.

The Pickerel Frog eggs usually take somewhere between 11 and 21 days to hatch into tadpoles. The tadpoles start to metamorphose after three month of hatching. Their yellowish brown color turns into green or green-grey as they grow up. The juvenile frogs take 2 to 3 years to become matured.

Life Span

These creatures have an average lifespan of 5-8 years.


The call of these frogs sounds like a low pitched snorting. Their voice is quite similar to that of the Northern Leopard frogs but is lower in volume.


The frogs of this species can secrete a kind of toxin from their skin. It helps them to avoid predation as most predators keep away from them because of this secretion. Even snakes avoid hunting this species. This poison can cause an irritation on human skin if comes to direct contact.

Hibernation Facts

These frogs hibernate (remain inactive with lower metabolic rate and body temperature) during the coldest months of winter. The hibernation takes place at the bottom semi frozen lakes or in caves. Sometimes they dig burrows and bury themselves in it. The hibernation period comes to an end during early spring.

As Pet

There are some important things to keep in mind to keep a Pickerel Frog as pet.

Housing: Usually, a ten gallon tank is suitable for one frog. As the members of this species are semi aquatic, the tank should contain both land and water. It would be ideal for 50% of the tank to contain water and the rest to be land. You can also put a piece of wood in the tank to provide a basking spot. Pickerel Frogs should never be kept with other frogs in the same tank as their toxic skin secretion kills any other species in a very short time.

Water Treatment: One should use de-chlorinated water for the tank. It is important to regularly change the water by 50%.

Temperature: The tank should be kept at room temperature during daytime. But a lower temperature should be maintained during night.

Feeding: One can feed them with different insects including crickets, worms and snails. Maintaining a variety in their food is very important. They will also eat fruits and vegetables in small amounts. They should be provided with a protein supplement once every week.

Are Pickerel Frogs Endangered?

This species is included in the “Least Concern” category by the IUCN. It means there are no immediate threats to the existence of these frogs.

Interesting Facts

Here are some interesting facts about this species:

  • They do not have webbed toes despite being found in aquatic habitats. Due to this reason, they are more comfortable on terrestrial lands.
  • They are one of the most poisonous frog species found in the US.
  • Unlike other frogs, the Pickerel Frogs do not have long tongues to catch their prey from a distance.
  • The mouth of these frogs can fit other animals almost of their own size. They hunt by grabbing a close by prey and gulping it down.


Here are some Pickerel Frog photos for you to find out about their appearance.

Pictures of Pickerel Frog
Picture 3 – Pickerel Frog Picture

Photos of Pickerel Frog
Picture 4 – Pickerel Frog Photo

The Pickerel Frogs are an amazing species with an attractive appearance and interesting behavior patterns. They are quite popular as pets despite their toxic skin secretion.

One thought on “Pickerel Frog

  1. Jim Barnes says:

    A truly superlative site! Clear, concise, attractive and exceptionally informative presentation. Our yard is, undeniably, inherited wetlands and as such is a fertile source of fantastic arrays of wildlife from bears to butterflies (even a giant swallowtails here in central New England). And, certainly toads, frogs, salamanders, etc., as the supply of spiders, grasshoppers,snakes, mosquitoes (of course) and nameless noseeums apparently provide a rich menu for all. But we never saw a Pickerel Frog here before. Was in full jump and shiny copper-bronze (Hollywood tan?)projectile. After reading about its capabilities and protective processes I am glad I did not grab it to show others!

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