Comprehensive DescriptionRead full entry
There are two recognized subspecies of Rana capito, the Carolina gopher frog, Rana capito capito and the Florida gopher frog, R. c. aesopus. (Rana sevosa used to be a subspecies of R. capito, R. c. sevosa, but has recently been elevated to species status (Young and Crother, 2001) Rana capito capito ranges in size from 2.5 to 3.5 inches and has a variable color pattern ranging from dark gray to brown spotted with black, reddish brown or dark brown (Conant and Collins, 1991). Warts are always prominent, variable in shape and almost pavement-like and the ventral surface is heavily marked with dark flecks (Conant and Collins, 1991). Rana capito aesopus ranges in size from 2.75 to 3.75 inches and has a color pattern that varies from creamy white to brown through yellowish or purplish (Conant and Collins, 1991). The back may be smooth or slightly warty with black or dark brown irregular markings. The chin and throat is usually spotted but the belly is usually unmarked posteriorly (Conant and Collins, 1991). Males may have yellow on the dorsolateral ridges, on the warts, along upper jaw, and in armpits and groins (Conant and Collins, 1991) and females have longer snout vent lengths than males (Greenberg, 2001). Their voice has been characterized by a deep roaring snore. Large choruses produce an effect like that of pounding surf (Conant and Collins, 1991).
Rana capito was first described as a distinct species by LeConte (1855) but then placed with the crayfish frog Rana areolata by Cope (1875). Collins (1990) resurrected R. capito for all populations within the historical range and since then, researchers have either recognized one gopher frog with three subspecies, R. c. capito, R. c. aesopus and R. c. sevosa or they have included all of R. capito as subspecies of Rana areolata, R. a. capito. Young and Crother (2001) have elevated the Mississippi gopher frog, R. c. sevosa, to full species status.