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What Is the Pacific Tree Frog?

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  • Written By: Emily Espinoza
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 26 March 2014
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The Pacific tree frog is a small, insect-eating amphibian that is commonly found along the west coast of North America but is found further east and in Alaska as well. It is also known as the Pacific chorus frog, though its taxonomic classification was revised in the first decade of the 21st century. All members of the species have a distinctive brown stripe, and males have darker throats than females. Mating occurs during the first half of the year.

The scientific name for the Pacific tree frog is Pseudacris regilla, but it used to be considered part of a group called Hyla regilla. This species classification was divided into three smaller groups in 2006, with the Pacific tree frog as one of them. The two other groups are the Sierran tree frog, or Pseudacris sierra, and the Baja California tree frog, or Pseudacris hypochondriaca. All three groups are very similar and are most often recognized by the common name Pacific tree frog or Pacific chorus frog.

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The natural habitat of the Pacific tree frog extends from Baja California all the way north to British Columbia. Its common territory extends eastward as far as Nevada and Montana. There is one small population in Alaska as well that was intentionally introduced to the area during the 1960s. It primarily lives in forest areas with wetlands or in small ponds. The frogs sometimes lay eggs in ephemeral ponds, which proves problematic, as some of these areas evaporate before the tadpoles are able to complete metamorphosis.

The Pacific tree frog is a rather small amphibian and is usually 1 inch (2.54 cm) to 2 inches (5.08 cm) in length. They are most commonly green or brown, but there are variations on these colors. One characteristic common to all specimens is a dark stripe that begins at the tip of the nose and extends past the tympanum. Males are distinguishable because of their noticeably darker throat, a result of vocalizing.

The diet of Pacific tree frogs consists of small insects. Larger insects prey on the frogs while they are young as do various snakes and larger amphibians as they grow larger. Their mating season extends from January to May but mating takes place mostly on the warmer nights. It is illegal to keep a Pacific tree frog as a pet without a license to do so, and obtaining that license can be somewhat difficult.

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