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American Bullfrog - Early Childhood Edition

American bullfrog Lithobates catesbeianus
The Basics
The American bullfrog is an amphibian.
The American bullfrog is brown, olive or green on the upper body. The belly skin is white to yellow. Its feet are webbed, and the webbing extends to the tip of the toes. The tympanum (eardrum) is wider than the width of the eye. A ridge, known as a dorsolateral fold, extends from the back of each eye to just past the tympanum. Males have a single vocal pouch in the center of the throat.
The American bullfrog is three and one-half inches to six inches in length.
Found statewide, this species lives in lakes, rivers, marshes, ponds and creeks.
The American bullfrog eats nearly anything that it can catch and swallow. Crustaceans, insects, other frogs, snakes, small mammals and birds are eaten.
Breeding takes place from late April through August. The female deposits about 20,000 eggs in water as the male releases sperm on them. Fertilized eggs hatch in less than a week. The tadpoles (larval form) may grow to as long as six inches. They overwinter in the water and transform to the adult form the following spring.
Food Source:
Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fishes will eat bullfrogs. People eat them, too.
What Else?
Most amphibians undergo a life cycle with a complete change of form (egg, larva, adult). The male’s call is “jug-o-rum” or “br-wum.” A male bullfrog will defend its territory from other bullfrogs.
Can I Catch It?
A current sport fishing license is required to harvest bullfrogs. See https://www.ifishillinois.org/regulations/2018FishingGuide.pdf for details.

 Educator Suggestions

​1. Watch the American Bullfrog video podcast with the students. Discuss with them the information shown above and in the video.
2. Use the information presented above and the following suggestions to help you meet some of the Benchmarks of the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards. Please do not be limited by these suggestions or by these Standards. The information can be used in several subject areas.
Goal 11, Learning Standard 11.A: Develop beginning skills in the use of science and engineering practices, such as observing, asking questions, solving problems and drawing conclusions.
Have the students develop questions about the American bullfrog that were not answered in the text or video. Let them build models or perform experiments to represent their ideas. If applicable, let them test the ideas and collect data. Involve math and computational skills. Describe the results and provide explanations.
Can I jump as far as a bullfrog? Most frogs can jump 10 times their body length from a stationary position. The largest bullfrogs are about six inches long, so from a sitting position, they can jump about 60 inches (five feet). Ask your students to see how far they can jump from a stationary position. Can any of them jump five feet? Measure, collect and compare the data. If possible, show each of them how far they would have to jump to reach 10 times their height. Why is the bullfrog so much better at jumping than humans?
Goal 12, Learning Standard 12.A: Understand that living things grow and change.
Use models of the frog life cycle to help explain this topic. Compare the frog life cycle with other life cycles, like those of butterflies and humans.
Goal 12, Learning Standard 12.B: Understand that living things rely on the environment and/or others to live and grow.
Goal 13, Learning Standard 13.A: Understand rules to follow when investigating and exploring.
Goal 13, Learning Standard 13.B: Use tools and technology to assist with science and engineering investigations.

Depending on what questions the students develop and test, they may need to use scientific and technological tools to help them discover the answers.