Reptile & Amphibian Center

Herpes Causing Cancer in Amphibians

2 min read

Lucke’s Tumor


Lucke's Tumor, named after the scientist who discovered it, is a renal adenocarcinoma (or cancer) affecting the northern leopard frogs (Rana pipiens) found in the wild in northeastern and north-central United States. It was the first tumor proven to be caused by the herpes virus. It is rarely seen in the summer because the virus needs cold temperatures to grow, and is most prevalent in the early spring, as frogs cease hibernating at that time. Also, eggs and young embryos are most susceptible to infection with the herpes virus, and thus are more likely to contract Lucke's Tumor.




  • Lethargy
  • Bloating
  • Tumorous growths




The virus is found in frog breeding ponds and is transmitted through infected amphibian urine.




Your veterinarian will take tissue samples and biopsies of the tumors from the amphibian to confirm Lucke's Tumor. Many times the examinations are done post-mortem, as many amphibians do not survive the viral disease.