In the summertime, only around dusk, a chorus of frogs start to vocalize on Webster Lake. In our cove, a deep bass voice, similar to the roar of a bull, chimes in after the others are in full voice. This singer is the American bullfrog or simply bullfrog, because most of us call it. A familiar amphibious frog found in the United States and Canada is a member of the family Ranidae, or”true frogs”. Native to eastern North America its natural range extends from the Atlantic seacoast to as far west as Oklahoma and Kansas. Lately it had been introduced into Nantucket Island, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Animal Removal New York, Nevada, California, Washington, and Hawaii. It’s considered an invasive species in these states, as it may outcompete native amphibian species, upsetting the neighborhood ecological balance. In some foreign countries such as Mexico, China, South Korea, and Argentina the bullfrog was intentionally released, either as a food source or as biological control agents of types.
So how do you spot a bullfrog? Look for a vibrant frog with olive-green sides and back and brown markings. On the bullfrog’s belly, it will be white with spots of grey or yellow. Specifically, the top lip is quite often bright green with the lower lip considerably paler. Of note, the male’s throat is yellow and he’s smaller than the female total. Inside the frog’s mouth are tiny teeth used to grasp little things. You will discover the eardrums (tympani) just behind the eyes and dorsolateral skin folds end near them. The tympani of a male are bigger than his eyes, where a female is smaller than her eyes. Limbs on the bullfrog are blotched or have grey bands. The forelegs are sturdy and short, with the hind legs long and lean, able to jump distances 10 times their body length. Just the back toes are webbed except for the fourth toe. Most bullfrogs step around 3.6 to 6 inches end to end. Growth is rapid that the first eight weeks of life and weight increases from.18 oz to 6.17 ounces. A bigger, mature bullfrog can weigh in at 1.5 pounds and up to 8 inches.
Located in large, permanent bodies of water, such as ponds, swamps, lakes, and streams, a man bullfrog will defend his territory during the two to three-month breeding season. This season is anywhere from late May through July. Males will assert websites usually spaced some 9.8 to 10.7 feet apart. They call loudly using at least three different territorial calls serving not just as threats to other males, but to entice females and encounter calls that precede combat.
These choruses are lively, forming and stay together for a few days. After the brief period, they proceed on to form new choruses with different males. To establish dominance in a chorus the male illustrates many different aggressive behavior, especially visually. Territorial males have inflated postures to demonstrate their yellow colored throats, while non-territorial men remain in the water with just their heads in view. When two dominant males come in contact they wrestle! After all the male jousting, a female will finally select a mate. When done, she deposits her 20,000 or so eggs in his territory in shallow water.
As a young boy growing up on Table Rock Lake in Missouri, I remember many a night when my Dad, two brothers and I went”frogging”. American bullfrogs are often located on the dinner table, particularly in the Midwest and in Southern parts of america. Then, when approached gradually, carefully, and softly, the bullfrog is gigged with a multi-tined spear (if legal), grasping gigs or by hand capture. Normally the back legs are eaten, much like little drumsticks and cooked in the exact same manner. A little trivia – the American Bullfrog is the state amphibian of Missouri, Ohio, and Oklahoma.
The majority of us who grew up in america share another memory of the American bullfrog – dissection in Biology class. Not one I would care to repeat, thank you!