American Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana*)


In 2005, Missouri designated the American bullfrog as 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 males’ deep, resonant “jug-o-rum” call, which is heard on warm, rainy nights between May and July. Bullfrogs can be hunted in Missouri from July to October. 

*There has been recent debate on the American bullfrog’s taxonomic name. When it was first described in 1802 by George Shaw, he categorized it in the Rana genus and named the species catesbeianus. In 2006, Darrel Frost et al. proposed it be moved to the Lithobates genus, which was first described in 1843 by Fitzinger. In 2016, Zhi-Yong Yuan et al. suggested it remain in Rana but that Lithobates be its subgenus. Thus, the scientific name for the American bullfrog has recently been given interchangeably as Lithobates catesbeiana and Rana catesbeiana. Furthermore, “catesbeiana” is feminine, “catesbeianus” masculine.


Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo)

§10.170. State amphibian – North American bullfrog. – 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)

approved 09 June 2005
effective 28 August 2005


Photo Gallery:

Click on an image below to enlarge and read a caption. This will open a new window in the Missouri State Symbols Flickr album.

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Additional Resources:

Search historic issues of the Missouri Conservationist on the Missouri Digital Heritage website here

The Missouri Department of Conservation State Documents Collection at the Missouri State Archives includes several publications on frogs and amphibians. See the finding aid online here

Frost, Darrel R. et al. “The Amphibian Tree of Life.” Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 2006, no. 297 (March 2006): 1-291. 

Yuan, Zhi-Yong et al. “Spatiotemporal Diversification of the True Frogs (Genus Rana): A Historical Framework for a Widely Studied Group of Model Organisms.” Systematic Biology 65, no. 5 (September 2016): 824-842.


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