Ben here with the Friday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

Ben here with the Friday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

Ben here with the Friday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

Happy Friday the 13th! Here's another cool critter that we found last week in a man-made tunnel in Alleghany County: Lithobates palustris, the pickerel frog!

Pickerel frogs can be found in a large portion of the eastern U.S. and in almost every county in Virginia. While they look very similar to leopard frogs, there are a few differences. The easiest way to tell the difference is that the "spots" on pickerel frogs resemble hand-drawn squares, while the spots on leopard frogs are more circular.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the pickerel frog is its defense mechanism. When stressed, these frogs secrete a substance from their skin that is poisonous to many of their predators and irritating to humans, making them the only native poisonous frog in the United States! Most predators leave pickerel frogs alone for this reason, although a few take the poison in stride. Bullfrogs, green frogs, northern water snakes, garter snakes, and eastern ribbon snakes have no problem chowing down on pickerel frogs.

In the southern portion of their range, these frogs are generally found at the edges of streams, lakes, and rivers between April and October, so if you'd like to spot one, there's plenty of time left to go hunting this year!

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust (

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

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