Wood Frog
Rana sylvatica

 
 
                                                         photo by Jeff Humphries
Listen to the call of the wood frog
 
DescriptionThis species is distinguished by the dark mask extending from the eye through the tympanum to the shoulder. Another dark stripe extends from the eye to the snout. They're snout-vent length is usually up to 3" (7.6  cm).  Color variation exists in this species (as seen in the photo above) in the same populations. Both frogs pictured are females who have not deposited their eggs yet.  Males have swollen thumbs during the breeding season and paired vocal sacs.

 
Habitat:  Wood frogs are usually found in moist, deciduous forests with a lot of leaf litter.  In West Virginia, they are active from mid-February through early November and can usually be found during the day.  They are also often encountered on roads on rainy nights during the spring and summer.  Wood frogs hibernate terrestrially, usually digging only a few centimeters into the soil, beneath the leaf litter or under a log.  This species can survive freezing, so it does not need a deep burrow for hibernation.

 
Breeding Activity:  These frogs emerge from hibernation in mid to late February in West Virginia, usually during the first warm rainy nights of the year.  They congregate in large numbers at vernal pools.  Males call explosively -- a call which, from a distance, sounds like the "quack" of a flock of mallard ducks.  Eggs are laid in globular masses about 3 - 4 inches in diameter and are usually attached to the stems of trees and other vegetation in the pond.  Each mass may contain up to 3,000 eggs.  They deposit their eggs communally, and the ones in the center of the mass may be 7.2 - 12.6 degrees F above the water temperature.  The central masses have significantly greater hatching success than the peripheral masses because of the warmer temperature.  The eggs hatch within 2 - 3 weeks and the tadpole stage lasts between 6 and 10 weeks.  Females become sexually mature in 3 years, while males are mature in 2 years.

Range:  Because of their ability to withstand extreme cold, even freezing, wood frogs are found as far north as Labrador and Alaska.  Their range also extends south to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and throughout the Appalachian Mountains. In West Virginia, Wood frogs occur in every county and up to the highest peaks of the highest mountains.

StatusNot listed.  Very common and widespread species.