Thursday, June 24, 2010

American Bullfrog

Rana catesbeiana is the largest frog native to North American, and has a range that covers the entire eastern half of the United States, up to about the Rocky Mountains. They extend well into Canada and parts of Mexico, and have even been found on other continents entirely. However, like many non-native species, they have become invasive and problematic. In South Korea they were brought in as a food source during the 1960s and have now multiplied to high levels and are devouring the native fish and insect populations.

Image from iFrog
You see, American Bullfrogs have an absolutely voracious appetite, and will consume just about anything that they can overpower and fit into their mouths. They'll eat rodents, insects, fish, invertebrates, turtles, birds and other frogs (including other Bullfrogs, those cannibals!). Their hunting technique is to ambush their prey. They will remain in a location and wait until something wanders by... and then lunge and attack. American Bullfrogs can grow up to 8 inches long, with an added 7-10 inches in long, powerful leg length. Females are just a tad bit larger than the males.

Not only do bullfrogs eat a whole lot, but they reproduce quite a bit as well. Breeding season lasts during the summer, and males will mate multiple times. Females will mate only once, but during that single incident she can lay up to 20,000 eggs! Bullfrog tadpoles take about two years to reach maturity, and they can live nearly a decade. In northern areas the frogs will burrow into the ground during the winter, and they remain active year round in warmer climates. Male bullfrogs are very territorial and will defend their turf from other challengers, wrestling them and sometimes even holding them underwater.

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