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  • Hannah Wiley

Animal of the Week: American Bullfrog

Hannah Wiley, Assistant Features Editor 

What happened this week? LEAP DAY! Who’s the leapiest frog? The American bullfrog!  

Lithobates Catesbeianus, more commonly known as the American bullfrog, has the highest recorded jump of any frog at 21 feet and five inches?! Not only does this frog take the largest jump, it also takes the award for the largest species of frog in the United States, growing up to eight inches and weighing up to one pound. American bullfrogs lay around 12-20,000 eggs at a time and stay tadpoles for two winters before becoming frogs. These exciting critters also have a lifespan of about eight years!

The name bullfrog actually comes from the sound they make during mating season, sounding very similar to that of a bull bellowing. The American bullfrog is an amphibian, as are all other types of bullfrogs. Amphibians are cold-blooded animals that have soft and moist skin, lay eggs without shells and have a two-stage life cycle — in this case, tadpole to frog. 

Typically, American bullfrogs prefer warmer climates and hibernate during the winter: they are mostly found on the east coast, all the way from Nova Scotia to Florida and going as far west as Wisconsin! Over time the species has been introduced to places like California and Mexico, and even accidentally to South Europe, South American and Asia. 

Bullfrogs are predators, and they eat pretty much anything, including snakes, aquatic eggs of various fish and salamanders, worms and insects. However, in a very dark twist, bullfrogs have also been known to eat tadpoles and other frogs, meaning they will not hesitate to eat their own kind! As for what hunts the bullfrog, humans hunt them for frog legs, and they are also eaten by a large variety of other animals such as herons, turtles, water snakes, racoons and belted kingfishers.

A strength of bullfrogs is that they are mostly unaffected by climate change caused by humans. They have a higher rate of surviving the tadpole stage than other frog species and are likely to survive in higher temperatures of water. In places where the American bullfrog isn't native, like California and Colorado, they have caused other native frog species to plummet towards extinction. This is mostly due to the introduction of new species of fish known for eating frogs, however, the bullfrog has adapted and found ways to avoid being eaten by these fish. 

American bullfrogs live in water so they are mostly found in places like ponds, lakes and rivers. They prefer to stay in warm shallow water and have been found to inhabit manmade lakes and other water spaces as it provides a good space for growth and reproduction, as well as the added protection from predators.

So, not only have you experienced the once-every-four-years event that is Leap Day, but you’ve also learned about Leap Day's mascot, the American bullfrog!

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