Red-legged frogs big, yet sound small

November 6, 2007 


    Scientific name: Rana aurora
    Where found: Forested wetlands; moist deciduous or coniferous forests
    Places to look: Stimpson Family Nature Reserve

The red-legged frog is large but its call is puny.

Described as a low, muffled stutter, the call is rarely heard by people.

The frogs live in wetlands, ponds and other moist forested areas west of the Cascade Mountains, from British Columbia to California, from sea level to 3,000 feet.

The males are a little over

2 1/2-inches long, while the females come in at 4 inches. Their backs are golden to dark brown in color and may have a few dark spots. Their legs — and sometimes their entire bodies — are red, orange or pink.

They breed from winter to spring in cool ponds, streams or other waterways that are up to 6 1/2-feet deep. Tadpoles begin their lives as eggs grouped together in masses that are the size of grapefruits or cantaloupes. They search out the warmer parts of the water after hatching.

Both adults and juveniles have gold eyes found on the sides of their heads.

Sources: Vikki Jackson; “Amphibians of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia,” by Charlotte C. Corkran and Chris Thoms; The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

Reach Kie Relyea at kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com or 715-2234.

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