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Pig Frog

Lithobates (Rana) grylio                                         Photo Stacia Hetrick ©

Pig frogs are members of the family Ranidae – also known as the true frogs.  Ranids are streamlined and narrow-waisted with long muscular hind legs and webbed feet.  They are smooth skinned, agile jumpers and swimmers, rarely found far from water.  Pig frogs resemble bullfrogs.  They are 3-6 inches long, olive to blackish brown in color with prominent, scattered dark spots.  In Florida pig frogs are common around the edges of water, in lakes, ponds and ditches, or floating in shallow water.  They are active mainly at night.

Breeding occurs from late May through August.  Pig frogs hold massive breeding choruses on warm rainy nights.  As you might expect from their name, the pig frogs call sounds like a grunting pig.  Females lay large numbers of eggs (>10,000) that are often seen lying in masses on the water surface, or attached to pickerelweed stems. The eggs hatch in 2-3 days.

Pig frog eggs turn into tadpoles in summer and do not become frogs until the April of the following year. The tadpoles are large and have extremely long tails.

Frogs legs are prized as an epicurean treat in many cultures.  Most frog species are edible, but only the larger ones, such as the bullfrog and the pig frog, are large enough to make harvesting and preparation economically profitable.  In Florida the pig frog and the bullfrog have long been considered staples of the frog-leg industry.  They are hunted at night from boats using lights and a miniature pitchfork known as a ‘frog gig’.   In the grocery store, frog legs sell for about $16 a pound. (Note:  If you are thinking of taking up frog gigging, you will need a commercial freshwater fish dealer’s license to take for sale, or sell frogs.)


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