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Frogs, Pacific Northwest

Frogs are amphibians, which comes from the Greek word amphibios which means living a double life.

Most are born in water as tadpoles and gradually change into adults although some, known as direct developers, are born fully developed. This allows them to be born and live far away from water, such as on mountaintops.

The Pacific Chorus Frogs can be found along streams and ponds in the Pacific Northwest, they are quite common
Pacific Chorus Frog, Photo By Bud Logan

They mainly feed on insects and small animals like earthworms, minnows, and spiders. They don’t need to drink the way we do, they simply absorb water through their permeable skin!

The Pacific Northwest’s tiniest frogs are smaller than a penny, but did you know that the worlds largest frog can grow to be longer than 30 cm and weigh more than 3 kilos!

There are more than 4,700 species of frogs around the world. There are about 90 species of frogs in North America. Unfortunately, around 120 amphibian species, including types of frogs, toads, and salamanders, have disappeared from the planet since the early 80s. As they are indicators of the health of an area, this should be considered a serious problem.

They can be found on every continent in the world except Antarctica. However, the highest concentrations are found in warmer tropical climes.

The Creen Tree Frogs are one of our most common frogs here in the Pacific Northwest
Green Tree Frog, Photo By Bud Logan

On the coast, you can find bronze, bull, northern red-legged, chorus and the western toad. Frogs are known as an indicator species and can tell us how healthy an ecosystem is. The majority of amphibians complete the first part of their life cycle in the water and then move onto land as adults.

The Bronze Frog, (a subspecies of the northern green frog) is becoming quite common in the Pacific Northwest, but on Vancouver Island, it is invasive and should be considered a serious threat to our indigenous frog species that live on there.

This frog is a small to medium size frog that can reach up to 10 cm in length. The frog gets its name from the coloration of its skin, they are a bronzy color.

They have a white spotted belly and a dark green color to its upper head and back areas. The males will often have a yellowish throat area.

Bronze Frog is a common sight in the Pacific Northwest
Bronze Frog, Photo By Robert Logan

Being true frogs, they have completely smooth skin and quite large ear discs located on the side of their heads, these ear discs are much larger than other frogs. Their eyes are gold.

Like most other types of frogs, the bronze frog feeds on a diet of worms and bugs that are small enough to swallow.

They will also eat other smaller frogs and tadpoles, but they have plenty of predators that eat them as well, this includes many types of birds and small mammals such as raccoon’s, mink and ermine, I am not sure how predation is on Vancouver Island, but the fact that l am seeing more of these all the time, l would have to guess that there are few predators here that actively feed on the bronze frog.

The Bronze Frog can be found along most streamsponds and lakes in the Pacific Northwest
Bronze Frog, Photo By Bud Logan

The bronze frogs breeding season starts in the early spring and runs through most of the summer. The female frogs can lay between 2,500 and 4,500 eggs in a season, these eggs are distributed in small clumps on underwater vegetation.

Within a few weeks, the small eggs hatch out into tadpoles, they soon morph into frogs. They will reach sexual maturity at about one year of age. In the wild, bronze frogs can live up to 12 yrs of age.

Just about anywhere you go on the coast, you will hear them, its such an awesome sound when you are camping. It truly says spring has sprung.

The green tree frog is found throughout the pacific northwest. They are quite common, we are forever finding them in our house plants that are near open windows, sometimes you will hear them in the house for several days before you finally find and move them back outdoors.

They are a very beautiful frog to look at and so very tiny. Like little gems. They range in color from grayish to brown, but mostly come in different degrees of green, including bright green, but they can change color quite quickly, possibly in response to changes in temperature or humidity.

The Green Tree Frog is a tiny little gem of a frog, it can be found in most aereas of the Pacific Northwest
Bronze Frog, Photo By Bud Logan

Before becoming true frogs they spend all their time in the water but after the change, they move up into the plants and trees. They have sticky pads on their toes for gripping and climbing around in the plants.

They have a dark stripe running from their nostril across the eye and down onto the shoulder. The green tree frog has a very loud and distinct sound. When they mate in the spring in shallow wetlands, the chorus of many tree frogs in the early evening is an incredible sound. I love to sit on our porch and just listen to this wonderful sound after it gets dark.

My wife and I were walking home just after dark early one spring and came across about 100 little frogs ringed around a mud puddle, all calling at the same time. It was fascinating to watch them.

The Pacific chorus frog is a very common sight on the coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest. They are small frogs, up to 6 cm long and are a pale grey or tan to bronze or bright emerald green in color.

These frogs have a dark stripe that runs from the nostrils through the eye down as far as the shoulder. They are often marked with dark patches or stripes on the back, and a light cream colored belly.

They have long legs and their toes have sticky round pads that they use to grip and climb, the toes have little webbing between them, giving them the appearance of being long.

As in most frog species, the females are slightly larger than males. Outside the breeding season, these frogs may be found in forests, open meadows or urban areas, they are not very particular about where they live.

The Pacific Chorus Frog is a very common type of frog here in the Pacific Northwest
Pacific Chorus Frog, photo by Bud Logan
Urban dwellers along the coast are often pleasantly surprised to find that a one or more of these frogs have made itself at home in their garden or even in window boxes. The sticky pads on their toes allow these frogs to climb about on plants with ease, but unlike the green tree frog that will climb as high as the tree allows, these guys like to stay fairly close to the ground.

During the breeding season, the Pacific chorus frog makes its way to the water where there is a lot of plant cover. Often these streams or ponds are temporary, drying up by August. By using these wet areas for breeding, these frogs can avoid predatory fish and other amphibians, like the bullfrogs, which require a permanent water source for habitat.

The little frogs breed early in the spring. The males make their way to the breeding ponds first and call in unison to attract the females. The choruses can be incredibly loud considering the size of the frog.

After mating, the females lay small clusters of eggs that they attach to bits of vegetation in calm, shallow water. The egg clusters are irregular in shape and may contain up to 70 eggs. The eggs develop rapidly and hatch in two or three weeks. The tadpoles become frogs at approximately two months. The young frogs may be only one cm long. The young frogs mature quickly and are ready to breed by one year of age.

The Western Toad can be seen in the whole Pacific Northwest area
Western Toad, Photo By Robert Logan
The Western Toad can be found in the Pacific Northwest where we have a large population. Adults can reach up to 14 cm in body length, excluding the hind legs. Males are usually a bit smaller than females and their skin is smoother.

Adult toads have thick stocky bodies and short legs. Their knobby skin looks dry and lumpy and can range in color from pale green to red. They have pale colored bellies mottled with black and a pale green colored stripe down their backs.

Western toad eggs look like black pearls strung on a chain when you see them in the water. Tadpoles are black or very dark grey with a dark, rounded fin that runs the length of their tail. Tadpoles morph into toadlets that may be as small as 6 mm but otherwise are completely identical to the adult toads.

The Western toad is a very common toad here in the Pacific Northwest
Western Toad, Photo By Robert Logan

These toads spend much of their time underground in old mammal nests, under logs and in rock crevices along streams.

Adult western toads head to communal breeding wetlands in the early spring. The males search these areas for available females. Males mount females from behind and fertilize the eggs as the female deposits them in the water. After hatching into tadpoles, they quickly morph into toadlets.

We used to go down to the old spit road and watch the annual migration of these toads, thousands of them would cross the road at the same time, since then, this road has been removed and the land has been reclaimed by nature.

The Western Toad will cover roads during the summer migration
Western Toad, Photo By Robert Logan

Dense groups of toadlets are often found clustered in large piles when the weather turns cool. They forage all summer long. As the weather turns cold in fall, these toads hibernate until spring.

These toads are poisonous. They have an enlarged gland behind each eye that secretes a white poison that can cause the mouth and throat to swell along with nausea, irregular heartbeat, and sometimes even death. These small toads can pose a big danger to pets like cats and dogs. People should always wash their hands after handling any toad.

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