Wood Frog

What’s the toughest frog in the land? My vote goes to the Wood Frog. It is the only frog found north of the Arctic Circle.

As the temperature drops below freezing each winter, the Wood Frog drifts into a deep hibernation; its breathing and heartbeat grind to a halt, and as much as 65% of the water in its body gradually crystallizes into ice. How’s that for tough?

Earlier this week we had a day with temperatures in the 50s and constant rain. During the night Wood Frogs migrated over to their breeding ponds. The male frogs call day and night in a duck-like, raucous quacking chorus.

The days following the migration have been cold, with temperatures in the 30s and 40s. The frogs have not been calling and stay hidden, awaiting higher temperatures.

I found this cold, dark example today under a log near the pond. It appeared to be in a trance and hardly moved, but it will be ready for action once it gets a bit warmer.

After laying eggs, Wood Frogs leave the pools of water to spend the rest of the year in wooded areas, often quite some distance from standing water. They blend in well with fallen forest leaves.

The Wood Frog grows to about three inches long. Its color ranges from pinkish-orange to tan to dark brown. It is easily recognized by its dark “robber’s mask.” It’s ability to withstand cold make for a pretty awesome amphibian.

Third Eye Herp


Alison Holds Amphibians

I never thought I’d see the day, but today it happened. Don’t believe me? Then read on.

Alison and I took a boy named Evan out to see some signs of spring (which officially is only a week away). We heard frogs calling from woodland pools, so we stopped to check it out.

All those ripples and swirls are from Wood Frogs swimming around, looking for mates.

There were a few Wood Frogs on land too, heading for the water. This one was pretty colorful.

So we caught it, to check it out more closely. These amphibians can be easily identified by their “robber’s mask.”

Evan decided that further investigations were in order.

A bit of log turning revealed a Spotted Salamander.

They spend most of their life underground, but head to the pools in March to lay eggs. Then they return back to the woods.

Of course Evan would hold it, but the big question was would Alison hold it?

She did!

Third Eye Herp

Tonight’s Amphibian Migration

How do you know that spring has arrived? Some would say it’s when they see their first Red-winged Blackbird. Some would say that it’s when a particular flower starts to bloom. But that’s all nonsense. Spring is officially here when Spring Peepers start calling. But before they do that, they must wake up from hibernation and migrate to woodland pools, where they lay their eggs. In these parts, Wood Frogs, Spotted Salamanders and Jefferson’s Salamanders often join them.
It rained pretty heavily until early afternoon, but then it stopped. But it still turned out to be a very good night for seeing amphibians. Wood Frogs were everywhere. I’ve never seen so many in one night (we only stayed for an hour).

Here’s a female heavy with eggs. Unfortunately they didn’t close the road like they usually do, so there were quite a few casualties. We called a ranger and he stopped by shortly thereafter to close it.

Although the Wood Frogs were calling in full force, there weren’t many Spring Peepers calling yet. Only two were seen on the road.

Salamanders tend to start crossing a bit later at night, but eventually they made their presence known. Here’s the first of many Spotted Salamanders.
One with relatively few spots.

But the Wood Frogs kept coming too. Sometimes I’d be photographing one and two or three would hop right on by.
A few were orange and a few were pink.

A hybrid/intergrade salamander that no one can quite figure out.

This spotted was just chillin’ in a roadside puddle after making it across the street.

And this one successfully crossed the “finish line” too.

Hey, that’s a spotted salamander, but it’s not a Spotted Salamander. This newt was probably looking to cash in on some tasty amphibian eggs.

Gray is my favorite color, and this Jefferson’s Salamander certainly was a fine sight to see.

It was quite a night!

Third Eye Herp