“What kind of tree frogs can you find in Arizona?“
Tree Frogs are interesting animals that have adapted to all sorts of habitat niches. And while they are common, they are MUCH harder to find than your “typical” frogs that live in lakes and ponds. For example, a tree frog could literally be right next to your head, but it may be concealed on the other side of a leaf or camouflaged perfectly to its environment.
For the sake of this article, I have included members of Hylidae, which is the family that encompasses all tree frogs in Arizona. But don’t let the name “tree frog” fool you, as species from this family are not always arboreal but can be terrestrial and semi-aquatic too!
Since tree frogs can be hard to observe, I have tried to include audio samples for each species. Listening is sometimes the BEST (or only) way to locate each species. 🙂
3 Types of Tree Frogs in Arizona:
#1. Pacific Tree Frog
- Pseudacris regilla
- Adults can reach 2 inches 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 Tree Frog can be found in a wide range of elevations in Arizona, ranging from sea level to 10,000 feet (3,050 m)!
Pacific Tree Frog Range Map
Look for them in woodlands and meadows. Interestingly, they spend most of their time on the ground despite being quite good climbers. They even hide from predators in underground burrows!
The Pacific Tree Frog 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.
Listen for them during the spring. Their mating call is a two-part call that sounds like “kreck-ek” or “rib-bit.”
#2. Canyon Tree Frog
- Dryophytes arenicolor
- Adults range from 1-2 inches in length.
- Typically brown, gray-brown, tan, or gray-green with darker, irregular blotches on the back. They often match the color of their habitat.
- They sometimes appear golden in direct sunlight, and the inside of the hind legs is bright yellow.
Canyon Tree Frogs are found in rocky areas in Arizona. They may be called tree frogs, but this species is mainly found perched on boulders, and rock faces near permanent water sources.
Canyon Tree Frog Range Map
During the hottest part of the day and periods of low rainfall, Canyon Frogs will seek shelter in rock crevices. They sometimes cluster together in these areas to help reduce moisture loss. They also have tougher skin on their back than most frog species to help them cope with their hot, dry climate.
You may hear the male’s low call during the breeding season, which is sometimes thought to sound like a distant sheep or goat. Since they are nocturnal, your best bet is to hear one at night.
Breeding occurs during spring rains, and the females lay large masses of 100 or more eggs which float in the water.
#3. Wright’s Mountain Tree Frog
- Hyla wrightorum
- Small bodies that are only 1 – 2 inches in length.
- Mostly green colored.
- Dark stripes start at the nose, runs past the eye, and end just before the back legs.
- Also commonly called Arizona Tree Frogs.
As the name suggests, these tree frogs live in the mountains of Arizona. Look for them along streams and wet meadows at high elevations near coniferous forests.
Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS
If you do locate one, be careful! Their skin is toxic and can irritate your eyes after handling. It’s best you just leave them alone. 🙂
If you find yourself at a high elevation, listen for a repeated short, low-pitched, metallic call, which is given by breeding males. LISTEN BELOW!
Due to the difficulty getting to their mountain habitats, Wright’s Mountain Tree Frogs have not been studied in detail, and not much is known about their habitats or population status.
Do you need additional help identifying tree frogs?
Try this field guide!
Which of these tree frogs have you seen in Arizona?
Leave a comment below!