Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica)

Wood frog

Wood frog photo provided by: Brian Gratwicke on Flickr CC 2.0

Description:

Wood frogs are found in varying shades of brown and red, but the most distinguishing characteristic that almost all share is a unique black mark over their eyes that somewhat resembles the mask of a robber. The average wood frog can measure anywhere between 1.4 and 3.25 inches. Like a few other frogs, (such as the African clawed frog) the toes on Wood frogs’ front legs are not webbed.

Location:

From the Canadian Maritimes to Alaskan forests, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Tennessee, and South Carolina to Maryland. They are the only species of frog that lives above the Arctic Circle.

Special features:

Naturally, any amphibian living in the incredibly cold Arctic environment is going to need a way to prevent becoming a frog popsicle, and in this respect, the wood frog is quite extraordinary. During the winter, wood frogs stop breathing and their hearts do not beat. In order to keep ice from freezing in their cells, they produce a type of antifreeze that keeps them safe—they can withstand  temperatures of -42.8°F In Alaska, wood frogs remain frozen from November through April.

Habitat:

Except during mating season, Wood frogs spend all of their time on land. They prefer an environment that is cool and moist and located near a water source.

Diet:

Beetles, flies, caterpillars, spiders, slugs, snails, and worms.

Predators:

Adult Wood frogs are commonly preyed upon by raccoons, owls, snakes, snapping turtles, coyotes, foxes, skunks, and various other animals, while eggs and tadpoles are often devoured by aquatic insects, leeches, beetles, salamanders, wood turtles, other wood frogs, and fish.

Breeding:

Wood frogs are one of the first frogs to breed, with mating season beginning in early spring. Females can lay up to 1,000 eggs at a time and because Wood frogs mate in the same general area, all of the eggs are right next to each other, creating a large matt of eggs on the water’s surface. After hatching, tadpoles will develop into adult frogs within 2 months.

Behavior:

Wood frogs are most active during the day, unlike many other frog species. They are protected from predators by their color, which allows them to blend into their surroundings.

Lifespan:

Generally no more than 3 years in the wild.

Wood Frog Fun facts:

  • The wood frog is New York’s state amphibian.
  • Scientists study the adaptive mechanism of the wood frog in an attempt to discover new and better ways of preserving human donor organs for transplant.

 

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