This species reaches an adult length of 2 ¼ to 2 ¾ inches (5.7 to 7.0 cm). Its dorsal color is often drab, especially compared to the Northern Leopard Frog, and varies from dark brown to grayish-green. As with both the Northern Leopard Frog and Pickerel Frog, this species also exhibits dark spots along its dorsal surface; spots are typically small, round, and widely spaced. This species also has a thin and distinct gold or bronze dorsolateral ridge that is lighter than the dorsal color and extends from eye to pelvis. Belly and sides are typically pale white, with occasional light mottling. Both sexes have a distinct white upper lip line: in males this line terminates at the large external vocal sacs under each tympanum; in females the lip line continues to the forearm.
Large groups gather in open meadows during a short breeding season in the early spring. Noisy choruses sound similar to Wood Frogs. Egg masses are laid, often in clusters, in clear and lightly vegetated shallow water.
Expansive open wet meadows, Phragmites marshes, and lightly vegetated swamps, typically in major river floodplains and large freshwater marshlands along the coast.
Insects and other invertebrates.
Only known from two extant populations in central Connecticut River Valley. Additional populations likely existed – and may still exist – in coastal areas with expansive freshwater Phragmites marshes, even seemingly industrialized areas like New Haven and Bridgeport. Additional populations may also exist along the New York border slightly north and east of Danbury.
The Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog appears to be critically rare with only two known populations statewide.
Despite being in CT all along, this ‘look-alike’ species was not recognized until recently (Newman et al., 2012; Feinberg et al., 2014) because of its striking resemblance to several other leopard frog species, including the Northern Leopard Frog, and to a lesser extent the Pickerel Frog. While all of these species have spots, those of the Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog are generally smaller, rounder, and more distantly spaced than either the Northern Leopard Frog or the Pickerel Frog. Other key diagnostics include extremely large external vocal sacs and the posterior dorsal face of the thigh, which is typically dark with light flecks or spots. In both the Pickerel Frog and the Northern Leopard Frog, the thigh pattern is reversed, with a light background and dark spots.
In general, leopard frogs have been considered uncommon and declining in Connecticut. Now, with the understanding that there are actually two species, both species may be even rarer than when they were collectively grouped together.
Feinberg, J.A., C.E. Newman, M.D. Schlesinger, G.J. Watkins-Colwell, B. Zarate, B. Curry, H.B. Shaffer, and J. Burger. 2014. Cryptic diversity in Metropolis: confirmation of a new leopard frog (Anura: Ranidae) from New York City and surrounding Atlantic Coast regions. PLOS One 9 (10), e0108213.
Klemens, M.W. 1993. Amphibians and Reptiles of Connecticut and Adjacent Regions. Hartford, CT: State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut Bulletin 112. 318 pp.
Newman, C. A., J. A. Feinberg, L. R. Rissler, J. Burger, and H. B. Shaffer. 2012. A new species of leopard frog (Anura: Ranidae) from the urban northeastern U.S. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 63(2):445-455.
Text by Jeremy Feinberg.
Photograph (top) © Gregory J. Watkins-Colwell. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Photographs (middle) © C. Camacho. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Audio recording (large chorus) by Jeremy Feinberg.
Audio recording (small chorus) by Brian Zarate.