White-lipped Frog
Leptodactylus fragilis

White-lipped Frog (Leptodactylus fragilis)
Yucatan, Mexico
The White-lipped Frog (Leptodactylus fragilis) is a widespread frog from of the tropical lowlands from Southern Texas down into Panama and northern South America.  Although it gets into Southern Texas, it is by no means common there and it may be one of the least often seen frogs in Texas.

The difficulty of finding it in Texas is partly due to its limited range and period of activity, but also due to its habit of calling from partially flooded grassy areas where it may call from underneath clumps of grass or soil, or even from burrows underground.  The frog photographed above was calling very loudly from an area of seemingly bare dirt with a few clumps of grass.  I looked and looked and couldn't see it!  Finally, I tracked it down to where it must be coming from and flipped a rock to find it calling from a burrow under the rock.  Hopefully the females are better at tracking down males than I am!  As a side note, I took this photo and took him back to the grass next to his rock.  Within a few minutes, he had crawled back down his burrow and started calling again!

The taxonomy of this frog species has been confused in the literature over the years.  It has been listed as Leptodactylus albilabris (which is a different species that is restricted to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) and Leptodactylus labialis which is not a valid name.  Furthermore there is sometimes confusion in its relationship with the South American species, Leptodactylus mystaceus.

Although it is called a "white-lipped" frog, many individuals I have seen didn't seem to have a very conspicuous white lip at all?

The call of the White-lipped Frog is a upward whistle "pru-uh" sound repeated many times in a row.  The call starts off around 900Hz and slurs quickly up to around 1.6kHz.

This individual was recorded just south of the town of La Palmera, Alajuela, Costa Rica in August 2014.  As is typical with calling Leptodactylus species, the frogs were never seen.

White-lipped Frog Call from Costa Rica

Here is a recording from south of the town of Pisté, Yucatan, Mexico. This recording includes the individual above that was calling from underneath the rock as well as a couple of others that were calling from burrows.

White-lipped Frog Calls from Yucatan, Mexico.

© Chris Harrison 2014 (updated 2017)

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