Missouri State Amphibian

North American BullfrogState Symbol: Missouri State Amphibian: North American Bullfrog

(Rana catesbeiana)


(Lithobates catesbeianus)

Adopted on June 5, 2005.
Effective:August 28, 2005

On June 5, 2005, the American Bullfrog (formerly Rana catesbeiana now Lithobates catesbeianus,) became the official state amphibian. The bullfrog is the largest frog native to Missouri and is found in every county. Most Missourians are familiar with the deep, resonant "jug-of-rum" call, which is typically heard on warm, rainy nights between mid-May and early July. The idea for the bullfrog designation came from a fourth grade class at Chinn Elementary School in Kansas City. (RSMo 10.170)

Missouri State Amphibian: North American Bullfrog

Adoptions of the North American BullfrogState Symbol: Missouri State Amphibian: North American Bullfrog

Pupils from Chinn Elementary in the Park Hill School District played a part in naming the North American bullfrog, (Rana catesbeiana,) as the state amphibian. Amy Boynton's fourth-grade class learned how a bill becomes a law after a visit from a State Rep. last year.

"We made paragraph's last year and sent them to the House of Representatives. They asked me questions like why the bullfrog should be the state amphibian," Kirby said.

Students presented every member of the House of Representatives with a pipe cleaner bullfrog holding an American flag. By the end of the legislative session, these creatures were sitting atop computers and hanging from microphones, according to Phillips spokesperson, Sandy Allen.

The bill was filed on December 1 and went through the final process when the Senate voted on the final day of session. By a 133-15 vote, the House passed a bill elevating the North American Bullfrog to Missouri's state amphibian and sent the measure to the Senate.

Sponsoring Rep. Susan Phillips, R-Kansas City, said the idea for the bill came from a fourth-grade class at Chinn Elementary School in Kansas City. To lobby for their cause, the students crafted googley-eyed frogs from green pipe cleaners for every House member.

The North American bullfrog is the largest frog in North America, with males weighing up to one pound. These frogs are usually found in ponds, rivers and bogs and generally eat snakes, worms and insects. They are also sometime eat other bullfrogs.

The North American bullfrog would join a host of other creatures given statewide recognition.

They include the paddlefish, which is the state fish, as well as the honeybee, the state insect.

Characteristics of the North American Bullfrog

State Symbol: Missouri State Amphibian: North American BullfrogNorth American bullfrogs (formerly Rana catesbeiana now Lithobates catesbeianus,) are the largest true frog found in North America, weighing up to 0.5 kg and 203 mm in length. Typical length ranges from 90 to 152 mm. Color varies from brownish to shades of green, often with spots or blotches of a darker color about the back. The hind feet are fully webbed. The sex of an adult bullfrog can be easily determined by examining the size of the tympanum (the external ear of the frog) relative to that of the eye. The tympanum is a round circle located on the side of the head near the eye, and in males it is much larger than the eye. In females the tympanum is as large or smaller than the eye. Also, during the breeding season the throat of the male bullfrog is yellow, whereas the female's is white.


North American bullfrogs prefer warm weather and will hibernate during cold weather. A bullfrog may bury itself in mud and construct a small cave-like structure for the winter. Their hunting style is 'sit and wait.' Bullfrogs can wait for a long time for some type of prey to come by, then, with a flash of the tongue, they grab it and bring it back into their mouths. Bullfrogs are active both during the day and at night; they are most active when the weather is moist and warm.


Breeding takes place in May to July in the north, and from February to October in the south. Fertilization is external, with the females depositing as many as 20,000 eggs in a foamy film in quiet, protected waters. Fertilization is usually, but not always, by one male. Tadpoles emerge about four days after fertilization. These tadpoles may remain in the tadpole stage for almost 3 years before transforming into frogs. Adults reach sexual maturity after 3 to 5 years.

Food Habits

Bullfrogs are predators. They usually eat snakes, worms, insects, crustaceans, frogs, tadpoles, and aquatic eggs of fish, frogs, insects, or salamanders. They are cannibalistic and will not hesitate to eat their own kind. There have also been a few cases reported of bullfrogs eating bats. Bullfrog tadpoles mostly graze on aquatic plants.

Missouri HB 33

After House Bill No. 33 was approved by the Missouri House of Representatives and the Missouri Senate, Governor Matt Blunt signed the legislation into law on June 5, 2005. The law went into effect on August 28, 2005.

(Signed 6/9/05)
0185L.01T 2005

To amend chapter 10, RSMo, by adding thereto one new section relating to state emblems.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:

Section A. Chapter 10, RSMo, is amended by adding thereto one new section, to be known as section 10.170, to read as follows:

10.170. The North American Bullfrog, scientifically designated as Rana catesbeiana, is selected for and shall be known as the official amphibian of the state of Missouri

Missouri Revised Statutes

The law designating the North American Bullfrog as the official Missouri state amphibian is SECTION 10.170 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, Title 2 (SOVEREIGNTY, JURISDICTION AND EMBLEMS) Chapter 10 (State Emblems) Section 10.170

Chapter 10 State Emblems
Section 10.170

August 28, 2013

State amphibian--North American bullfrog.

10.170. The North American Bullfrog, scientifically designated as Rana catesbeiana, is selected for and shall be known as the official amphibian of the state of Missouri.

(L. 2005 H.B. 33)

Taxonomic Hierarchy: North American Bullfrog

Kingdom: Animalia - animals
Phylum: Chordata - chordates
Class: Lissamphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Ranidae
Genus: Rana »»» Lithobates
Species: Rana catesbeiana »»» Lithobates catesbeianus

State Amphibians
State Reptiles
The word amphibian means two-lives. Amphibians spend their lives in the water and on land.