Texas Nature Trackers Spotlight: Crawfish Frog (Lithobates areolatus)

Crawfishfrogmap
Crawfish frog occurrences, historic (brown) and recent (blue).

The Texas Nature Trackers Herps of Texas Project (HoTX), needs your help to document populations of Crawfish Frog in Texas!  Crawfish frogs were formerly found in prairies throughout East Texas, but today they are only known from a few remnant populations.  The map depicts historic localities of the species (brown) as well as recent observations (blue).  Any observations are valuable, especially if you can find them in a county without a recent detection.

Habitat: The crawfish frog occurs in prairies and other grasslands, meadows, woodlands, and semi-permanent wetlands. They spend most of their lives in crayfish and gopher burrows, but under the right conditions they will emerge to breed in ephemeral ponds up to one mile from their resident burrow.

Description: The crawfish frog is related to leopard frogs and the bullfrog and has a similar body shape. The crawfish frog grows from 2.2 to 3.0 inches in length.  This species has a distinctive call that can be heard up to a mile away.

Finding Crawfish Frogs: The best time to look for this species is at night after a significant rain when the air temperature exceeds 50°F (10°C) between February and May.  Calling males may be detected over great distances. Please document observations with a sound recording and/or a photo. When possible, photos should include a scale.

Photo by Scott Wahlberg; HoTX observation 403266.
Photo by Scott Wahlberg; HoTX observation 403266.

Road Surveys: A good method for detecting this species is to conduct road surveys through appropriate habitat.  If conducting a road survey, concentrate on roads with little traffic and where you can safely stop.  Surveyors should stop every mile and listen for calling frogs for at least 30 seconds (with the car engine turned off). Location (GPS coordinates), air temperature, habitat, behavior (i.e. calling, crossing road), number of individuals and any other details (i.e. predation, other species present, mortalities) can be submitted online to the HoTX project.  If there are historic localities in your area, you can get in touch with us and we may be able to provide more specific information on localities with historic records.

Cullen Hanks : Texas Nature Tracker Biologist

Andy Gluesenkamp: TPWD Herpetologist

One thought on “Texas Nature Trackers Spotlight: Crawfish Frog (Lithobates areolatus)

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