Monday, April 11, 2011
Species of the Day: North American Bullfrog
Scientific Name: Lithobates catesbeianus
Adult Size: 10 to 16 inches long including the legs
Range: Found in Canada and Mexico; native to the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. Introduced in much of the western United States
Habitat: Usually found in or near a permanent water source, including rivers, streams and ponds.
The North American bullfrog is a member of the Ranidae family. The bullfrog is named as such because of their deep loud croaks, which make them seem much larger than they are. These croaks are used to keep rival frogs at bay in territorial disputes. The bullfrog is already a humongous species on its own without the booming calls. The bullfrogs body length ranges from around 3 to 6 inches with the legs adding on another 7 to 10 inches. They use these powerful legs of theirs to propel them forward an astonishing length of up to 6 feet. Bullfrogs can weigh up to 2 pounds, with females being larger than their male counterparts. Bullfrogs generally sport earth colors such as brown, green and yellow, with black or brown blotches accenting the legs. The males tend to aggregate in ponds and croak simultaneously to attract mates, with females choosing partners based upon the amount of food in a male's territory.
If the proper environment is provided, the North American bullfrog will thrive under captive conditions. The ideal situation is a large outdoor pond so that the animal cannot escape and invade the surrounding habitat. These frogs need huge amounts of space, and if kept indoors will need an aquarium a minimum of 55 gallons. Large stock tanks and tubs available from hydroponics outlets are also acceptable. The enclosure should contain a large aquatic area and a land area to bask in. Also integral in an indoor design is the use of UVA and UVB light sources. In the wild these animals will spend a lot time basking and the use of these lights will be helpful in keeping them healthy in the long term. Aquatic and terrestrial vegetation is helpful in providing security to these secretive frogs with a place to hide. Ambient temperatures of 75 to 80 degrees F are considered ideal for the maintenance of this species. Remember that these frogs can jump great distances and a good sturdy cage top should be employed.
The North American bullfrog is a rapacious feeder. Large insects and small rodents will make up the bulk of their diets in captivity. Because of their huge appetites, they are prone to obesity and as such, should be fed rodents sparingly to prevent them from becoming overweight and getting secondary metabolic issues. Gut loading food items with fresh vegetables and commercial gut-loading food is a great way to improve the nutritional quality of the insects. A vitamin and mineral supplement is also a good idea for this species, especially for younger animals still undergoing periods of rapid growth. This will ensure proper bone development .