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What Is the Pacific Tree Frog?

Emily Espinoza
Emily Espinoza

The Pacific tree frog is a small, insect-eating amphibian that is commonly found along the west coast of North America but is found further east and in Alaska as well. It is also known as the Pacific chorus frog, though its taxonomic classification was revised in the first decade of the 21st century. All members of the species have a distinctive brown stripe, and males have darker throats than females. Mating occurs during the first half of the year.

The scientific name for the Pacific tree frog is Pseudacris regilla, but it used to be considered part of a group called Hyla regilla. This species classification was divided into three smaller groups in 2006, with the Pacific tree frog as one of them. The two other groups are the Sierran tree frog, or Pseudacris sierra, and the Baja California tree frog, or Pseudacris hypochondriaca. All three groups are very similar and are most often recognized by the common name Pacific tree frog or Pacific chorus frog.

Veterinarian with a puppy
Veterinarian with a puppy

The natural habitat of the Pacific tree frog extends from Baja California all the way north to British Columbia. Its common territory extends eastward as far as Nevada and Montana. There is one small population in Alaska as well that was intentionally introduced to the area during the 1960s. It primarily lives in forest areas with wetlands or in small ponds. The frogs sometimes lay eggs in ephemeral ponds, which proves problematic, as some of these areas evaporate before the tadpoles are able to complete metamorphosis.

The Pacific tree frog is a rather small amphibian and is usually 1 inch (2.54 cm) to 2 inches (5.08 cm) in length. They are most commonly green or brown, but there are variations on these colors. One characteristic common to all specimens is a dark stripe that begins at the tip of the nose and extends past the tympanum. Males are distinguishable because of their noticeably darker throat, a result of vocalizing.

The diet of Pacific tree frogs consists of small insects. Larger insects prey on the frogs while they are young as do various snakes and larger amphibians as they grow larger. Their mating season extends from January to May but mating takes place mostly on the warmer nights. It is illegal to keep a Pacific tree frog as a pet without a license to do so, and obtaining that license can be somewhat difficult.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Pacific Tree Frog?

The Pacific Tree Frog, scientifically known as Pseudacris regilla, is a small amphibian native to the western coast of North America. It's renowned for its vibrant color variations and distinctive ribbit that's often used in Hollywood films to represent frog calls. Despite its name, it's as comfortable on the ground as it is in trees.

What habitats do Pacific Tree Frogs prefer?

Pacific Tree Frogs thrive in a variety of moist habitats, including woodlands, grasslands, and chaparral. They are particularly fond of environments near water sources such as streams, ponds, and wetlands, which are essential for their breeding and larval development stages. Their adaptability allows them to inhabit both rural and suburban areas.

How do Pacific Tree Frogs reproduce?

Reproduction in Pacific Tree Frogs begins with the male's call to attract females. Breeding typically occurs from November to July, peaking in the spring. Females lay clusters of eggs in water, which hatch into tadpoles and undergo metamorphosis. According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, a single female can lay hundreds of eggs per season.

What do Pacific Tree Frogs eat?

Pacific Tree Frogs are insectivores, feeding primarily on small invertebrates. Their diet includes flies, mosquitoes, beetles, and other small arthropods. They use their sticky tongues to snatch prey, playing a crucial role in controlling insect populations in their ecosystems. Juveniles and tadpoles have different feeding habits, often grazing on algae and organic debris.

Are Pacific Tree Frogs poisonous?

No, Pacific Tree Frogs are not poisonous. They are harmless to humans and are often welcomed in gardens due to their appetite for pests. Unlike some other frog species that secrete toxins through their skin, Pacific Tree Frogs rely on camouflage and quick reflexes to evade predators rather than poison for defense.

How can I identify a Pacific Tree Frog?

Identifying a Pacific Tree Frog can be a delightful challenge due to their ability to change color from green to brown, though they are typically about 2 inches long. Key features include a dark mask-like stripe across their eyes and smooth skin. Their call, a two-part "kreck-ek," is distinctive and often heard during the breeding season.

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    • Veterinarian with a puppy
      Veterinarian with a puppy