Herpetofauna: One Life's List

Rana sphenocephala
Southern Leopard Frog

Mississippi River, St. Louis Co.,
Missouri. Summer 1974

There used to be a place, a little backwater pond a few hundred feet from the Mississippi River, that was full of these frogs.  As a kid it was great fun to try to catch them among the cattails and arrowhead plants, while getting your sneakers stuck in the stinking riverbank mud. They are a tough capture, seeing you before you see them most of the time and bouncing away.

One day in early November we were walking the Snake Road in southern Illinois, not seeing much of any herp life except for sphenocephala, and there were hundreds of them out on the banks along the swamp's edge.  You couldn't take more than a few steps without hearing them rustle in the vegetation or plop into the water.  They are normally quite common here, but I have never seen so many at one time.  I wonder what they were all up to, in the short time remaining before they burrowed down for the winter.

The top picture is an southern Illinois spheno; the bottom is one from central Indiana.






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