This is a very wide-ranging species. Its native range is from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, southern Quebec, Canada, south to eastern North America, except southern Florida, USA, then southward through Veracruz, Mexico. It is also found in northwestern Mexico in Sonora, Chihuahua, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sinaloa and Durango, and probably other areas in Mexico, as well. This species was introduced to Mexico at the beginning of last century; nowadays it has reached central Mexico (up to Aguas Calientes, San Luis Potosí, Hidalgo, Mexico, Mexico D.F., Morelos, Puebla, Guerrero and Michoacán with state records). It was introduced to 'La Garita' in Costa Rica, but now appears to be extinct in this country (G. Chaves pers. comm.). It is also introduced in Cuba, Puerto Rico (introduced in 1935), Hawaii (introduced mid- to late 1800s, now on all main islands), Isla de la Juventud, Hispaniola (only confirmed in northern and eastern Dominican Republic, not in Haiti) and Jamaica. Its range is increasing in some areas. It is introduced to South America. In Venezuela, there is an expanding population near La Azulita, in Mérida state, at the Andean versants facing Lake Maracaibo basin. In Colombia it is known from the Middle Magdalena Valley, north to the lowlands on the Caribbean coast. It has also been found in Bogotá, although it is not known whether it has established a population there. In Peru it has become established around Iquitos in central Loreto Department in the Amazon Basin, and also around Lima on the Pacific coast. There are also a number of populations established in Ecuador and Brazil. It has been introduced in Rincón de Pando, Canelones, Uruguay, and in Misiones, Argentina. In Europe, where it is introduced, the largest population occurs within the Po River Valley (Italy) where formal introductions continued at least until 1937. Other populations have been reported from Belgium (recorded from several sites in Wallonia and at least one population is known in Flanders), the Netherlands, central and southwestern France, Germany (in the vicinity of Bonn and also in Baden-Wuttemburg), Greece (Crete), Spain (Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands [only a few individuals observed and not mapped here], Villasbuenas de Gata in Cacerés [not recently observed and not mapped here] and Sierra de Collserola, Cataluña Province [only a few individuals observed and not mapped here]) and the United Kingdom (possibly now eradicated). It has possibly been introduced to Switzerland, although this requires further confirmation. In Asia, where it is also introduced, it is found in several localities in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand [not mapped here] and Singapore [not mapped here]. It has been introduced to mainland China and Taiwan, Province of China, for raising in farms for human consumption. Feral populations have become established in Taiwan, Province of China, Kunming in Yunnan province, Sichuan, Xinjiang and possibly other places in China as a result of escape or deliberate release. Individuals have been found in the wild in Hong Kong probably from releases of market animals. However, there is no evidence to suggest that this species is now established in Hong Kong. It is found widely from southern Hokkaido to Ishigakijima in Japan.
Habitat and Ecology
This species inhabits ponds, swamps, lakes, reservoirs, marshes, brackish ponds (in Hawaii), stream margins and irrigation ditches. It is sometimes found in temporary waters hundreds of metres from permanent water. It winters at the bottom of pools. It may disperse from water in wet weather. Eggs and larvae develop in permanent slow or non-flowing bodies of water.
There are thousands of natural occurrences of this species. It is highly abundant and its global population is increasing. Although some of the populations in Europe of this species are increasing, other introductions not have become fully established. In Asia, it is only present in isolated pockets. Animals have been deliberately introduced to northern Thailand in the hope of augmenting native frog production. Farmed animals are exported alive to East Asia (Lim and Lim 1992, Pariyanonth and Daorerk 1995) and can escape or be released to become established. A growing population is now established in the Venezuelan Andes (C. Gottberg and A. Diaz pers. comm.), near the town of Jají, in Mérida State.
There are no threats to this species. Outside its native range, this species is considered a pest. It has been observed predating on native species in Puerto Rico, including on Leptodactylus albilabris, and is a potential predator of other native species throughout its introduced range. It is a possible vector of pathogens.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2015. Lithobates catesbeianus. In: IUCN 2014