“What kind of frogs can you find in British Columbia?”
I love finding, observing, and hearing frogs!
Even as a kid, I used to patrol the swamps by my house, catching them and then trying to sell them as pets to cars passing by. As you can imagine, no one was interested in buying my frogs, and I ended up letting them go at the end of each day. 🙂
Today, I’m providing a guide to teach you about the different kinds of frogs found in British Columbia.
One of the BEST ways to find frogs is to learn the noises they make. So, in addition to pictures, you will find audio samples for each species below!
6 Frog Species in British Columbia:
RELATED: 8 Common SNAKES That Live in British Columbia! (ID Guide)
#1. Wood Frog
- Lithobates sylvaticus
- Adult body lengths range from 3.8 to 8.25 cm.
- Coloration is various shades of brown, gray, red, or green, with females tending to be more brightly colored.
- Distinct black marking across the eyes, which resembles a mask.
As the name suggests, Wood Frogs are found in British Columbia in moist woodland habitats, including forested swamps, ravines, and bogs. They travel widely and visit seasonal pools to breed.
Wood Frog Range Map
This incredible little frog has a wide range across North America. They have adapted to cold climates by being able to freeze over the winter. Their breathing and heartbeat stop, and their bodies produce a type of antifreeze that prevents their cells from bursting. In the spring, they thaw and begin feeding again.
Interestingly, Wood Frogs seem to be able to recognize their family. Scientists have found that as tadpoles, siblings will seek each other out and group together!
Wood Frogs are one of the first amphibians to emerge after the snow melts.
Listen for a call that sounds a bit like a clucking chicken near vernal pools and other small bodies of water!
#2. Boreal Chorus Frog
- Pseudacris maculata
- Adults range from 2.5 to 3.8 cm long.
- Coloration is brown, olive green, or tan with three dark stripes down the back that are sometimes broken into blotches.
- Prominent black stripe on each side from nostril, through the eye, and down the sides to the groin.
- Looks very similar to the Western Chorus Frog. Boreal Chorus Frogs are distinguished by having shorter legs.
Boreal Chorus Frogs are rarely seen in British Columbia. They’re small and secretive, inhabiting moist meadows and forests near wetlands on the eastern border.
Boreal Chorus Frog Range Map
These frogs breed in shallow temporary ponds and pools such as flooded fields and roadside ditches. They require waters free of fish; otherwise, most of their eggs and tadpoles would be eaten!
Males produce a loud chorus of calls at breeding sites, which are easy to identify.
The sound has been compared to someone running a finger over the teeth of a comb (“reeeek“). You’re most likely to hear the calls in the late afternoon or evening.
#3. Pacific Treefrog
- Pseudacris regilla
- Adults can reach 5 cm long, with the males typically being smaller.
- Most are green or brown with pale white undersides, but some are reddish, gray, cream, or black.
- Dark mask across the eyes to the shoulders and uniformly bumpy skin.
The Pacific Treefrog can be found in a wide range of elevations in British Columbia, ranging from sea level to 3,050 m (10,000 feet)!
Pacific Treefrog Range Map
Look for them in woodlands and meadows. Interestingly, these frogs spend most of their time on the ground despite being a treefrog. They even hide from predators in underground burrows!
The Pacific Treefrog travels to the shallow water of ponds and lakes to breed and lay eggs. The female attaches the eggs to sticks or other underwater debris.
Also called the Pacific Chorus Frog, this species can be heard during the spring.
Their mating call is a two-part call that sounds like “kreck-ek” or “rib-bit.“
#4. Coastal Tailed Frog
- Ascaphus truei
- Adults are 2.5 – 5 cm long.
- Rough skin with a coloration of brown to olive green. Large, flattened head with a light triangular mark between the snout and eyes.
- Slightly webbed hind feet, hard toe tips, and the males have a tail-like extension of their cloaca.
This species might be the most unique frog in British Columbia!
Coastal Tailed Frog Range Map
Unlike most other species, the Coastal Tailed Frog is found in steep, fast-moving, rocky streams. This habitat has caused this species to develop several unique adaptations.
They have reduced lung size, likely to control buoyancy, and hard toe tips to help them travel along the bottom of these streams. They also have a greater number of vertebrae than other frogs. Lastly, these frogs lack ear membranes, which means they CAN’T vocalize.
Tailed frogs get their name from a unique habitat adaptation, the male frog’s cloacal extension. This extension is used to insert sperm into the female so it isn’t lost in the fast-moving water. They are the only North American species of frog to reproduce through internal fertilization.
The females lay strings of eggs under rocks in the stream. The tadpoles have a large oral sucker which allows them to attach themselves to smooth stones in turbulent water. It takes the tadpoles one to four years to mature into adult frogs.
#5. Northern Red-legged Frog
- Rana aurora
- Adult body lengths range from 5 to 10 cm, with the females being larger.
- Reddish-brown to gray with dark specks and blotches, dark mask, and light stripe on the jaw.
- Yellow underside with red on the lower abdomen and hind legs.
The Northern Red-legged Frog is typically found in British Columbia near slow-moving streams and ponds. They prefer shaded areas with plenty of emergent vegetation, which they use as defense from predators.
Northern Red-legged Frog Range Map
These frogs require cool water temperatures to reproduce, so the breeding season begins early, between January and March. The males select territories and produce a soft mating call with 5-7 repeating notes sounding a bit like, “uh-uh-uh-uh-uh.” They make this call both under and above water.
The females produce large egg masses, which they attach to rotting logs and submerged vegetation typically 5 to 6 inches below the water surface. Believe it or not, Northern Red-legged Frogs can live for 12 to 15 years!
#6. Columbia Spotted Frog
- Rana luteiventris
- Green or brown with black spots on its back
- The upper lip and belly are white.
- Compared to other frogs, they have shorter back legs, upturned eyes, and a narrower snout.
You will almost always find Columbia Spotted Frogs near permanent bodies of water, such as ponds, lakes, slow-moving streams, and marshes. In addition, they need lots of vegetation to provide adequate protection because many different predators hunt them!
Females lay up to 1,300 eggs at a time in shallow water. Interestingly, once laid, this mass of eggs absorbs water and can grow to the size of a softball! And these eggs are not attached to anything, so they just float around until the tadpoles are ready to hatch.
To attract a female, male frogs will sing a song that ranges from long, deep sounds to clicks. You can listen to an example of the clicks below:
Do you need additional help identifying frogs?
Try this field guide!
Which of these frogs have you seen in British Columbia?
Leave a comment below!