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Appearance: Although often described as "stubby" in proportions, this is a moderately large frog that reaches about 7.5 cm (3 in.) in length. The ground color is light cream or off-white, and the dorsum is heavily marked with irregular, dark blotches. The chin and throat are spotted with black on white ground color, and the underparts of the body may be washed with yellow. This frog has very prominent dorsolateral folds.
Habits and Habitat: True to their name, Gopher Frogs frequently inhabit the occupied or unoccupied burrows of Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) in the Deep South. These frogs can be found at night, feeding or calling outside of their burrows in pine flatwoods and other dry habitats, and can be found during the breeding season in ponds associated with these habitats. Fishless ponds are required for successful reproduction to occur.
Vocalization: A low, deep, rolling snore lasting for several seconds. The calls may be heard at almost any time of the year during or after periods of rain, but are most frequently heard during the breeding season. Typical call:
Reproduction/Egg Description: Depending on their location, Gopher Frogs may breed in late fall, winter, spring, or summer. Reproduction and movement by Gopher Frogs to breeding sites generally occurs on cool, rainy nights associated with cold fronts, regardless of the time of year. Eggs, laid in large masses numbering several hundred eggs, are attached to aquatic vegetation just under the water's surface.
Distribution and Abundance: Although related species and subspecies are found throughout the Coastal Plain and Mississippi Valley, the range of the Florida Gopher Frog (Rana capito aesopus) is restricted to southern Georgia and all of Florida excluding the Everglades region and the extreme western panhandle. Although locally common in appropriate habitats, these habitats are generally restricted and this frog is not widespread and is considered uncommon or rare in some parts of its range.
SE ARMI Index Sites: Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (Rana capito aesopus, Florida Gopher Frog).