SCIENTIFIC NAME: Rana chiricahuensis
HABITAT: Ponds, streams, livestock tanks and other aquatic sites in Arizona and New Mexico
LIFE HISTORY: Reclusive and mostly nocturnal. Retreats to deep water when disturbed. Feeds primarily on insects and invertebrates. Distinctive, snore-like call.
THREATS: Predation by non-native species, primarily bullfrogs, crayfish and other alien fish; fungal skin disease; habitat degradation and destruction due to water diversions, groundwater pumping and environmental contamination.
RANGE: Formerly found in 413 sites in central, east-central, and southeastern Arizona, and west central and southwestern New Mexico, as well as in 13 localities in Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico. Now extant at 88 to 93 localities in AZ and NM; status in Mexico unknown.
This fist-sized, spotted frog, whose distinctive call sounds like a long snore, has vanished from 80 percent of its home turf in New Mexico and Arizona.
Once comfortable in the cienegas, lakes and rivers of the southwest, the Chiricahua leopard frog has been chased out of its preferred habitat by alien predators such as the crayfish and American bullfrog. The leopard frog is now often found in ponds and in livestock tanks maintained by ranchers to water their cattle. The tanks and small ponds are free from predators, but their water supply is unreliable, leaving the frogs more vulnerable to drought. And like frogs around the globe, the Chiricahua leopard frog is also falling prey to a rare fungal disease that has been linked to global warming.
The Chiricahua leopard frog was listed as a threatened species in 2002, with a special rule allowing cattlemen to continue regular maintenance of any livestock tanks that harbor frogs. Arizona's species recovery plan, mandated by the Endangered Species Act, involves wetlands conservation and restoration, control of nonnative species and unique partnerships with ranchers and private landowners, who are helping recover leopard frogs threatened by drought and establish hatcheries on private land.