Lithobates catesbeianus
(Shaw 1802)

lĭth-ō-bā'-tēz — kă-tĕs-bē-ā'-nŭs

An adult from an oxbow south of Schermerhorn Park in Cherokee County. Image © Travis W. Taggart.
A tadpole from Ellis County, Kansas. Image © Travis W. Taggart.
A transforming juvenile from Ellis County, Kansas. Image © Travis W. Taggart.
Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
Common Gartersnake eating an American Bullfrog in Barton County, Kansas. © Ariel Snyder.
A tadpole of Rana catesbieanna. Image © Altig et al. (2006).
A tadpole of Rana catesbieanna. Image © Altig et al. (2006).

Length in Kansas up to 6.5 inches. This frog is the largest in Kansas. They have a light to dark green ground color with little to heavy dark brown mottling on the head, back, and limbs. They do not have a raised ridge of skin along the sides from the eyes to the legs. The eardrums (tympanum) of males are much larger than the size of the eye.
Largest frog in state; adults normally 90-152 mm (3½-6 inches) in SVL; largest Kansas specimen: female (KU 181593) from Chase County with SVL of 185 mm (7¼ inches) collected by B. Haller on 26 May 1979; maximum length throughout range: 8 inches (Conant and Collins, 1998); heaviest Kansas specimen weighed slightly over 580 grams (about 1 pound, 4 ounces).

Found throughout Kansas but appreciably less common and confined to riparian areas (and nearby impoundments) in the western third of the state.

Locality Dot Map:
The brown shaded areas () show the boundaries of properties in public or institutional ownership that contain ecological resources that merit some level of protection (KBS file).
(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record). Export Google Earth (.kml)
Open icons indicate questionable records; Click on a marker to view details.
  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 1,345 Total Records 
  • 839 Museum Vouchers 
  • 506 Other Observations 
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences): Some occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map.
Allen (14); Anderson (10); Atchison (3); Barber (3); Barton (14); Bourbon (22); Brown (36); Butler (47); Chase (15); Chautauqua (9); Cherokee (75); Cheyenne (6); Clark (9); Clay (2); Cloud (9); Coffey (39); Comanche (8); Cowley (59); Crawford (30); Dickinson (2); Doniphan (17); Douglas (103); Edwards (1); Elk (8); Ellis (15); Ellsworth (14); Finney (7); Ford (2); Franklin (12); Geary (9); Gove (9); Graham (5); Grant (1); Gray (1); Greenwood (44); Hamilton (1); Harper (14); Harvey (34); Hodgeman (3); Jackson (22); Jefferson (10); Jewell (7); Johnson (22); Kingman (4); Kiowa (4); Labette (30); Lane (1); Leavenworth (24); Lincoln (1); Linn (28); Logan (5); Lyon (10); Marion (33); Marshall (5); McPherson (25); Meade (12); Miami (10); Mitchell (1); Montgomery (47); Morris (1); Morton (13); Nemaha (6); Neosho (9); Ness (2); Norton (3); Osage (7); Osborne (1); Ottawa (1); Pawnee (5); Phillips (1); Pottawatomie (25); Pratt (20); Rawlins (3); Reno (6); Republic (4); Rice (6); Riley (14); Rooks (2); Rush (2); Russell (4); Saline (11); Scott (12); Sedgwick (10); Seward (7); Shawnee (12); Sheridan (3); Sherman (5); Smith (1); Stafford (7); Stanton (4); Stevens (1); Sumner (8); Thomas (1); Trego (14); Unknown (16); Wabaunsee (9); Wallace (10); Washington (16); Wichita (1); Wilson (7); Woodson (37); Wyandotte (3);

Natural History:
Frequently seen sitting on vegetation mats at the edge of shallow streams and ponds, or with their eyes just breaking the surface.
They breed on the surface of shallow, permanent water covered with vegetation. Males make distinctive, resonant, low-pitched ‘jug-o-rum’ call both day and night during late spring and through the summer. Females may lay up to 20,000 eggs in one year. The eggs hatch in less than a week and the developing tadpole will remain aquatic for one to three years until transforming into a young terrestrial frog. Bullfrogs are opportunistic predators, and prey on any animal they can fit into their mouths (including smaller American Bullfrogs). Hartman (1906) removed an adult sparrow from an adult American Bullfrog, and water-beetles and ground-beetles from young specimens.

Occurrence Activity:

Audio recording by Keith Coleman.

Chorusing Phenology: The black dots illustrate the actual Julian date (day of the year; 1 January = 1 to 31 December = 365) observations were made. The thin red line depicts the range of dates between the beginning of the first, and end of the fourth quartile (excluding outliers; Tukey method). The thick light blue bar represents the second and third quartile (interquartile range; the middle 50% of all observations). Only one observation per Julian date is included in the graphs; so a date with multiple observations carries the same weight as a date with only one observation. The vertical bars correspond to the 12 months of the year; January through December.
# Unique Obervations: 394; Range: 11 Mar to 14 Aug; Interquartile range: 18 May to 26 Jun;

First reported in Kansas by Cragin (1880). The earliest existing specimen is from 1905 (KU 8619).
The legs of the American Bullfrog are a delicacy, prized by Kansas sportsmen. They are one of the few herpetological species in Kansas that are regulated as game animals. American Bullfrog season extends from July 1 through October 31 of each year. Daily creel limit is eight. Possession limit is 24 American Bullfrogs after the third day of the season. A valid fishing license is required for any person to take, catch, or kill American Bullfrogs, except persons exempt by law from having such license. American Bullfrogs may be legally taken any time of day or night by dip net, gig, hook and line, hand, bow, and arrow, or crossbow. A line must attach the bow to an arrow, and the arrow must have a barbed head. Any other method of taking American Bullfrogs is prohibited.

1802 Shaw, George General zoology or systematic natural history. Volume 3. G. Kearsley, London, U. K.. 615pp.
1880 Cragin, Francis W. A preliminary catalogue of Kansas reptiles and batrachians Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 7():114-123
1906 Hartman, Frank A. Food habits of Kansas lizards and batrachians. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 20():225-229
1914 Dyche, Lewis L. Enemies of fish. Pages 145-158 in Ponds, Pond Fish and Pond Fish Culture State Department Fish and Game Bulletin No. 1, Kansas State Printing Office, Topeka. pp.
1925 Linsdale, Jean M. Land Vertebrates of a Limited Area in Eastern Kansas. Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 312pp.
1926 Forney, Elsie A. The fauna of an artificial pond. Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence. 76pp.
1927 Linsdale, Jean M. Amphibians and reptiles of Doniphan County, Kansas. Copeia 1927(164):75-81
1932 Gloyd, Howard K. The herpetological fauna of the Pigeon Lake Region, Miami County, Kansas. Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan 15():389-408
1933 Smith, Hobart M. The Amphibians of Kansas Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence. 383pp.
1934 Brennan, Lawrence A. A check list of the amphibians and reptiles of Ellis County, Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():189-191
1935 Brennan, Lawrence A. Notes on the Distribution of Amphibia and Reptilia of Ellis County, Kansas. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 114pp.
1937 Brennan, Lawrence A. A study of the habitat of reptiles and amphibians of Ellis County, Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 40():341-347
1944 Marr, John C. Notes on amphibians and reptiles from the central United States. American Midland Naturalist 32(2):478-490
1953 Schmidt, Karl P. A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 6th Edition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois. 280pp.
1956 Loomis, Richard B. The chigger mites of Kansas (Acarina, Trombiculidae). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37():1195-1443
1962 Gish, Charles D. The Herpetofauna of Ellis County, Kansas. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 34pp.
1975 Rundquist, Eric M. First KHS field trip yields three county records. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (7):1-3
1976 Caldwell, Janalee P. and Gregory. Glass. Vertebrates of the Woodson County State Fishing Lake and Game Management Area. Pages 62-76 in Preliminary inventory of the biota of Woodson County State Fishing Lake and Game Management Area. Report No. 5. State Biological Survey of Kansas, Lawrence. pp.
1976 Grow, David A record size Bullfrog. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter 16():4
1977 Knight, James L. and Joseph T. Collins. The amphibians and reptiles of Cheyenne County, Kansas, Report Number 15. Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 19pp.
1977 Rundquist, Eric M. and Joseph T. Collins. The amphibians of Cherokee County, Kansas. Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 12pp.
1980 Clarke, Robert F. Herptiles and fishes of the western Arkansas River in Kansas. United States Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 55pp.
1982 Fitch, Henry S. Resources of a snake community in prairie-woodland habitat of northeastern Kansas. Pages 83-97 in Herpetological communities: A symposium of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles and the Herpetologists League, August 1977.  Wildlife Research Reports 12. 239 pp. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D. C. pp.
1985 Guarisco, Hank Opportunistic scavenging by the Bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana (Amphibia, Anura, Ranidae). Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 88():38-39
1989 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1988. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (75):15-18
1991 Collins, Joseph T. and Suzanne L. Collins. Reptiles and Amphibians of the Cimarron National Grasslands, Morton County, Kansas. U. S. Forest Service, Elkhart, Kansas. 60pp.
1991 Fitch, Henry S. Reptiles and amphibians of the Kansas ecological reserves. Pages 71-74 in Multidisciplinary Guidebook 4. Kansas Academy of Science, Lawrence. pp.
1995 Moriarty, Emily C. and Joseph T. Collins. First known occurrence of amphibian species in Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (100):28-30
1996 Miller, Larry L. Many amphibian and reptile species identified during KHS 1996 fall field trip to Wabaunsee County. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (106):2-3
1996 Miller, Larry L. Third graders conduct amphibian and reptile field study. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (106):15
2000 Van Doren, Mark D. and Curtis J. Schmidt. A herpetological survey of the Fort Larned National Historic Site, Pawnee County, Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (120):8-11
2001 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 2000. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (124):6-8
2001 Taggart, Travis W. The KHS 2001 spring field trip: A rainy rendezvous. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (124):43084
2002 Miller, Larry L. Osage County herp count II. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):15
2002 Palenske, Nicole M. Blood Viscosity and Hematological Parameters in Hibernating Bullfrogs, Rana catesbeiana. Thesis. Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas. 61pp.
2002 Riedle, J. Daren and A. Hynek. Amphibian and reptile inventory of the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant, Labette County, Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (2):18-20
2002 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2002 fall field Trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):11-13
2002 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the spring 2002 KHS field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (3):6-7
2004 Delisle, Jennifer M. and William H. Busby Biological inventory for vertebrates at Fort Larned National Historic Site of the southern plains network. Natural Heritage Inventory, Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 61pp.
2005 Flowers, T. L. Life history notes: Rana catesbeiana. Diet. Journal of Kansas Herpetology 14():10
2005 Hillis, David M. and Thomas P. Wilcox Phylogeny of the New World True Frogs (Rana) Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 34(2):299-314
2005 Taggart, Travis W., Curtis J. Schmidt, and Richard S. Hayes. Geographic distribution: Rana catesbeiana. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (13):10
2006 Altig, Ronald, Roy W. McDiarmid, Kimberly A. Nichols, and Paul C. Ustach Tadpoles of the United States and Canada: A Tutorial and Key Electronic files accessible at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA. ():
2006 Frost, D., T. Grant, J. Faivovich, R. Bain, A. Haas, C. Haddad, R. De Sá, A. Channing, M. Wilkinson, S. Donnellan, C. Raxworthy, J. Campbell, B. Blotto, P. Moler, R. C. Drewes, R. Nussbaum, J. Lynch, D. Green & W. Wheeler The amphibian tree of life Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History (297):370
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Addendum report to biological inventory of the sandsage prairie near Holcomb, Kansas. Sunflower Electric Cooperative, Hays, Kansas. 31pp.
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Distribution and status of Kansas herpetofauna in need of information. State Wildlife Grant T7. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. vii + 106pp.
2007 Taggart, Travis W. A biological inventory of the Sunflower Electric Site near Holcomb, Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology 23():11-16
2008 Schwenke, Zachery J. Geographic distribution: Lithobates catesbeianus. Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (27):7
2010 Collins, Joseph T., Suzanne L. Collins, and Travis W. Taggart. Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles of Kansas Eagle Mountain Publishing., Provo, Utah. 400pp.
2010 Miller, Larry L. 2010 Investigation of the Checkered Garter Snake in Kansas with notes on other Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles encountered. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt, Kansas. 31pp.
2011 McMartin, David C. U. S. Army 2011 Fort Leavenworth Herpetofaunal Survey: 23 April - 09 May 2011. Privately printed, Leavenworth, Kansas. 33pp.
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2016 Pittman, Galen L., Henry S. Fitch, and W. Dean Kettle Vertebrate animals on the Fitch Natural History Reservation (1948-2002) Kansas Biological Survey Report Number 188, Lawrence. 48pp.
Account Last Updated:
8/30/2018 2:57:57 PM

Travis W. Taggart © 2019 — Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University