Amphibians and Reptiles of Minnesota

A Complete On-line Field Guide to Minnesota's Amphibians and Reptiles

Mink Frog - Lithobates septentrionalis PDF Print E-mail
Frogs, Toads and Treefrogs of Minnesota - Frogs, Toads and Treefrogs of Minnesota

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Mink frog, Rana septentrionalis, from Anoka County, MN









Mink frogs have no status in Minnesota.


The mink frog is a medium sized frog (about 3 inches body length). The mink frog is green with black spots or mottling. Sometimes, the dark pigment is very invasive; green may only be seen on the head and lips. Usually, however, the dark pigment forms a network or reticulated pattern on the back. The belly is white or yellowish with or without gray markings. The dorsolateral ridges may be present, reduced, or absent. The tympanum of males is larger than the eye; those of females are the same size or slightly smaller than the eye. The mink frog differs from the green frog in that the mink frog has extensive black pigment (usually mixed with green pigment) on the back, full webbing of hind feet, eyes positioned slightly on top of the head, a mink-like or rotten onion smell. Mink frogs are not found south of the Twin Cities.


There are no subspecies of the mink frog, Lithobates septentrionalis. This species was formerly placed in the genus Rana.


The mink frog is basically found in the northern half of Minnesota, although records are absent from much of western Minnesota, even in the north. Mink frogs are not found south or west of the Twin Cities (Hennepin and Ramsey counties).


The mink frog favors permanent wetlands like lakes, ponds, deeper bogs, and slower portions of rivers. They stay very close to these waters in more open areas, but they may move a short distance if the wetland is surrounded by damp, heavy forest; especially if there are numerous bogs and potholes nearby.


Mink frogs emerge from winter dormancy in late April or early May (especially in the north) but they do not breed until late May into August. Males vocalize while floating. They make a "knock, knock, knock" call or sometimes a creaking sound like an old rocking chair. Females lay masses of eggs that number 3,000 or 4,000. Tadpoles metamorphose in about three months, but most not until their second year. Mink frogs are probably the most aquatic of Minnesota's frogs, rarely leaving the water except for extended periods of high humidity or during heavy rains. I have seen the most specimens active on the roads in mid to late summer. Usually they remain in the wetland, away from shore sitting on lily pads or masses of aquatic vegetation. They overwinter underwater in their home lake, pond, or river.


Mink frogs usually eat aquatic or flying insects, earthworms (when on land) and other invertebrates.


A mink frog from Beltrami County, Minnesota


A mink frog from Mille Lacs County, Minnesota

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