The Outdoor Journal by Kyle Carroll

American Bullfrogs

If you have been outside near any body of water in the evenings lately, you likely have heard the deep-throated chugarum of the American Bullfrog. On the Missouri Department of Conservation's website, bull frogs are described as “.. Missouri’s largest frog; it ranges from green to olive to brown. The back may have small brown spots or dark, indistinct, irregular blotches. The hind legs are marked with distinct dark brown bars. The belly is white, and the throat may have some gray mottling. The external eardrum is large and round.”

You can tell the males from the females by looking at this large round external ear. On the males, the Tympanum is much larger than the frog’s eye. On the females, the tympanum is about the same size as the eye. “This species has been known to reach 8 inches from snout to vent. Call is a deep, sonorous “jug-a-rum, jug-a-rum” that can be heard from half a mile away or more.” MDC

In Missouri, bullfrogs are active from late March to October. To overwinter, they burrow into bottom mud of rivers or ponds. Breeding is in mid-May to early July. Males are highly territorial and physically aggressive to each other as they defend calling stations. Eggs are laid in shallow water in a wide, floating mass. Females can lay over 20,000 eggs per clutch; these hatch in 4–5 days. Tadpoles turn into froglets in about 11–14 months, but adult size isn’t reached for another 2–3 years.

This 2-3 year span needed to reach adulthood is why there is an actual bullfrog season in most states. By regulating the season when frogs can be taken, bullfrogs are allowed time to breed and lay eggs every year. The harvest of frogs is restricted somewhat by the daily limit placed on the individual taking the frogs.

Bullfrogs can leap up to 8 times their body length and live surprisingly long lives. In the wild, these frogs can live up to 10 years. In human care, they can survive for up to 16 years! 

Frog season opens in Missouri at sunset, June 30th and ends Oct. 31. Missouri has two frog species that are legal game — bullfrog and green frog. Bullfrogs are larger and therefore more sought-after. The daily limit is eight frogs of both species combined and the possession limit is 16 frogs. You can pursue frogs on either a hunting or fishing permit, depending on the method you are using.

The Caldwell County News

101 South Davis
P.O. Box 218
Hamilton, MO 64644
Phone: 816-583-2116

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