I encountered this fellow one sunny afternoon in early summer, relaxing in one of our ponds. He’s a Red-legged Frog (Rana aurora), a species that’s officially at-risk. Red-legged frogs live in ponds or lakes and shady forests, so human encroachment on their habitat has taken its toll. Fortunately their population is still considered relatively healthy in the Gulf Islands, where I live.
Red-legged frogs are much larger than the more familiar Pacific tree frogs – they can grow to 13 cm (5+ inches). The underside of their back legs and their bellies are an orangey-red – the older the frog, the deeper and richer this colour will be.
Unlike their more abundant little green cousins, you seldom hear Red-legged frogs, because they make their mating calls deep underwater. About the only sound I ever hear from them is when my foot accidentally comes too close: that’s when I hear the plop they make as they spring into the water from the bank of the pond, where they’ve been sunning themselves!
Once Red-legged frogs have mated, which can be as early as mid-February in our region, they lay a jelly-covered eggmass about the size of a canteloupe. From this, the tadpoles will emerge, and by mid to late summer they will have metamorphized into little froglets, if all goes well. In dry summers – which seem to occur more and more frequently as climate change affects our region – we worry that our pond will vanish before they have developed the legs they need to wander into the cool of the forest. It seems like a race against time, which is why I breathe a big sigh of relief whenever I spot a new generation of these lovely frogs in our pond.
Related post: Amphibian Encounters #1 (Pacific Tree frog)