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Wood Frog

Scientific name: Rana sylvatica

This small frog gets up to 2 inches long and may be rust, brown or tan, allowing it to blend well into its surroundings. Aptly named, its primary habitat is woodland areas where it is cool and moist. Note the distinctive markings – a white line over its lip and a black “robber’s mask” over its eyes, extending to its ears.  You might also notice a dorsal ridge (a fold of skin running from the back of the eyes to the tail).

The wood frog is unique in that after breeding, it travels up to a half mile to woodlands for the summer. As a consequence, contiguous habitat is required for it to survive. Roads and other factors which fragment habitat result in the demise of this forest denizen.

It has a distinctive mating call, like a duck quacking!

See the video below to learn about how frogs freeze in winter.

Note the "mask".
Credit: Missouri DEC
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As is the case with other frogs and toads, diet depends upon its stage of life. As a tadpole it is omnivorous, eating both plant algae and the eggs and larvae of other amphibians.  Once it becomes a frog and is terrestrial, its diet changes to insects and invertebrates living on the forest floor.

Life Cycle

The wood frog will hibernate close to the vernal pool where it will breed in spring. Wood frogs and other amphibians require this specific habitat which only exists seasonally in the spring, as it lacks predators such as fish, who would eat all the frog eggs. Once the female responds to the males’ call and mates, she lays thousands of eggs in clumps. In a few days these hatch and become tadpoles. By breeding in early spring, they increase the chances that their tadpoles will become froglets before the vernal pool dries up. The wood frog can live up to 10 years

Ecosystem Connections

The frog helps to keep the insect population in check. The eggs, tadpoles and frogs themselves are a food sources for other animals.

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