The Pacific chorus frog is a very common sight in the coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest. They are small frogs, up to 6 cm long, and are a pale gray 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.
Urban dwellers along the coast are often pleasantly surprised to find that one or more of these frogs have made themselves 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 their 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 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.
Pacific chorus frogs eat spiders along with a wide variety of insects, which they hunt while climbing about on plants. Tadpoles graze on algae and detritus. In turn, chorus frogs are preyed on by snakes, raccoons, bullfrogs, and many other birds and small mammals.
Pacific chorus frogs can be heard calling throughout the year, especially during rainstorms, and the spring mating choruses are impossible to miss. It’s very difficult to spot these little gems, since they will stop calling as soon as you get close to their position.