Frog Blog: Pickerel Frog – Finally!Lithobates palustris

Frog Blog: Pickerel Frog – Finally!Lithobates palustris


FINALLY……I recorded a Pickerel Frog calling!!!

EDIT April 2024 – Finally I saw a wild Pickerel Frog!  I added this photo of the pickerel frog I photographed in Missouri in April 2024 because…..I saw a Pickerel Frog!  (The original photo above was a captive from NC that I photographed in 1995).

The Pickerel Frog (Lithobates palustris) is not a rare frog.  It is quite common and widespread across the eastern United States.   Unfortunately, it is not common nor widespread in Texas and in spite of decades of looking for them, I have never seen or heard one.

So, as is a long-standing tradition for me, I made the long drive into the forests of East Texas during the spring of 2024 to see if I could find one of these little “snorers”.    Unfortunately, although we had had warmer than average weather in the preceding week and some rain had fallen, the night I arrived at the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge it was cooler than usual.   We drove around listening and recording Spring Peepers and Cajun Chorus Frogs hoping to hear something else.  But by 9pm, the temperature had dropped into the low 50s and that usually puts a damper on frogs calling in Texas on dry nights.

Right before we were headed back to the hotel, we stopped at one last flooded roadside forested area.   This spot was right next to the road and train tracks so it was full of trash and plastic bottles – hardly a pristine vernal pool.

I recorded some Spring Peepers and some Southern Leopard Frogs when suddenly, I heard a long snore just a few feet away into the forest.

My first Pickerel Frog call!

Pickerel Frog!!!!!   After years of standing in the cold on spring nights, I finally found one!

The call of the Pickerel Frog is maybe best described as a long snore, although there is a percussive component to the spectrogram that you don’t see in the “buzzy snores” of the Spadefoots.

Here’s one of this frog’s “snores” –

Unfortunately, we were tired and wet, and there was a barbed wire fence keeping us from getting over to see the frog, so I substituted a captive photo from decades ago.  I guess because we were so tired (it was a 6 hour drive to get there, and we had been listening to frogs in the cold for several hours already), I decided that we would come back tomorrow night when it was forecast to be warmer and get a nice stereo recording.

Needless to say, the next night it was just as cold and there were no Pickerel Frogs calling.  I’m glad I at least got something the night before.  

That is my 38th of the 42 (maybe 44 now) species occurring in Texas.   Maybe I can get lucky and knock off another two this year?  I still need Houston Toad (Anaxyrus houstonensis), American Toad (Anaxyurus americanus), Pig Frog (Lithobates grylio), and White-lipped Frog (Leptodactylus fragilis) of the native species and Greenhouse Frog (Eleutherodactylus planirostris) and Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) of the introduced species.   There is a newly described/about to be described Chirping Frog species I might still need although I won’t know that until I see a range map.

I will leave you with a bit more of the recording of the Spring Peepers, Southern Leopard Frogs and Pickerel Frogs from this dirty roadside ditch.

Pickerel Frog and neighbors

© Chris Harrison 2024

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