This small frog (adults generally grow no larger than 1.5 inches (or 4 cm)) is a common amphibian in the Pacific Northwest, found from sea level into the Coast Range Mountains. The animal can have a variety of colors, from brown to bright green with the males having dark throats. A dark brown or black eye stripe runs from the nose, through the eye and part way down the back. Like most frogs, this animal is an insectivore, eating beetles, spiders, ants and other invertebrates.
The frog’s croaking song is common in early spring when large numbers of them congregate in ponds and wetlands to breed. This can go on for several weeks. Many of the adult frogs will leave the water and return to the trees after breeding. Females will lay large clusters of eggs on grass or plant stems in shallow water and by the end of summer tadpoles are hatching. Within a few months, the tadpoles have transformed into frogs and will abandon their home ponds – often in large migrations – to venture into the surrounding vegetation where they’ll live for most of their lives.
The Pacific Tree Frog can be found all along the west coast of North America, from northern California into Canada. Their large population and wide distribution is due partly to their adaptability. They can live at a variety of elevations, in both terrestrial and aquatic habitats. They will even use backyard water features as urban habitat. In forested areas, the frogs will hide beneath logs or woody understory; or cling motionless to the side of a tree or plant until an insect happens by. Despite their abundance, their small size and nocturnal nature make them difficult to find in the wild.
Common, but like all amphibians, the Pacific Tree Frog is vulnerable to toxins and other pollutants found in waterways. Currently, their numbers are declining in Oregon.
Photo credit: Oregon Department of Fish and Game.