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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

21 California Red-Legged Frog Facts You Won't Believe!

Discover captivating California red-legged frog facts about its life cycle, tadpoles, breeding season, and more!

The California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii), formerly known as Rana aurora draytonii, is the largest native frog in the western U.S.A, which is a member of the Ranidae family. It is a frog species that can be seen in northern Baja California (Mexico) and in California. These adult frogs possess salmon pink or reddish underside, abdomen, and hind legs along with brown backs that are flecked with spots. The younger frogs have more prominent dorsal spots that are yellow in color. It was previously recognized as the subspecies of the northern red-legged frog. It is listed as a vulnerable species by the IUCN's Red List and is also federally listed as a threatened species in the United States. They are threatened by loss of habitat, overexploitation, and predation by species like American bullfrogs. This species is endemic to Baja California, Mexico, and California. It is mainly spotted in the three counties of California, namely, Santa Barbara County, Monterey County, and San Luis Obispo County.  These adult frogs are nocturnal and have been observed feeding upon invertebrates mainly like insects, vertebrates like fish, salamander larvae, California mice, and Pacific tree frogs, smaller amphibians, and mammals. Tadpoles feed on detritus, diatoms, and algae. These young frogs are diurnal as well as nocturnal. Adult frogs are the primary prey of the threatened San Francisco garter snake of San Mateo County.  Keep reading to get to know exciting facts about this frog species!

If you enjoyed reading our California red-legged frog facts, you must check out our Panamanian golden frog and tree frog articles for kids!

California Red-Legged Frog Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a California red-legged frog?

Rana aurora draytonii, or the California red-legged frog, now popularly known as Rana draytonii, is a species of frog. The California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii) was considered a northern red-legged frog's subspecies.

What class of animal does a California red-legged frog belong to?

California red-legged frogs belong to class Amphibia. It is a member of the Ranidae family and the Rana genus.

How many California red-legged frogs are there in the world?

The population of these unique-looking frogs has declined in 70% of its distribution. It can be spotted in only 28 counties of California in approximately 256 streams. Although, it is still quite prevalent along the coast. Most of the decline occurred in the populations of Southern California and the Sierra Nevada. These frogs are also believed to be extinct from the peninsular ranges and the southern Transverse. They are threatened by loss of habitat, overexploitation, and predation by species like  American bullfrogs.

Where does a California red-legged frog live?

This species is endemic to Baja California, Mexico, and California at elevations between sea level to an estimated 5000 ft (1524 ft). It is mainly spotted in the three counties of California, namely, Santa Barbara County, Monterey County, and San Luis Obispo County. This species' historical expanse ranges from the region of Redding, Shasta County, California, Calaveras County to Butte County in the Sierra Nevada and from the region of Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, California, coastally, towards the northwestern Baja California, Mexico. There are also data of this frog from Riverside County towards Mendocino County along the Coast Range.

What is a California red-legged frog's habitat?

This species has a unique choice for habitat, comprising terrestrial as well as aquatic areas. The habitat of these adult frogs is generally within 1-2 mi (1.6-3.2 km) of their breeding site where they can take shelter in the summers to stay cool and moist. Typical places include slow-moving streams, thickly vegetated regions. man-made structures like livestock troughs, abandoned sheds, and culverts, rocks, logs, small mammal burrows, and ephemeral or perennial ponds.

The breeding site is typically slow-moving, deep waters that have many places for shelter. California red-legged frogs breed at places where there is emergent vegetation like tules, overhanging willows, or cattails, and dense shrubby riparian.

Frogs of this species hibernate in the summer season or dry weather in moist leaf litter or in burrows of small mammals. They have been spotted within 100 ft (30.4 m) of water in thick riparian plants.

Who do California red-legged frogs live with?

Frogs of this species prefer to live in solitary and are diurnal.

How long does a California red-legged frog live?

This species of frog (Rana draytonii) can live for as long as ten years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

California red-legged frogs breed between the months of November and April. Male frogs of this species arrive at the breeding sites two to four weeks before female frogs do. They call in groups that comprise three to seven males, to lure female frogs. Female frogs lay egg masses that are attached to vegetation like cattails or bulrushes that are near or in the water. These egg masses comprise 2000 eggs that have a dark reddish-brown coloration. They are then fertilized by males. The eggs hatch within 6-14 days, after which the tadpoles (larvae) undergo metamorphosis during the summer season for 3.5-7 months. They attain sexual maturity at three to four years of age.

What is their conservation status?

The California red-legged frogs (Rana draytonii) have a Vulnerable conservation status. Threatened mainly by loss of habitat, overexploitation, and invasive species such as bullfrogs, this frog species has faced a major decline in its population. They were even over-harvested in the 19th and 20th centuries. The growth of suburbs and cities, invasion of non-native plants, degraded water quality, mining, overgrazing by cattle, and impoundments add to their list of threats.  

California Red-Legged Frog Fun Facts

What do California red-legged frogs look like?

California red-legged frogs (Rana draytonii) are the largest indigenous frogs that inhabit the western United States of America. It ranges between 2-5 in (5-12.7 cm) in length. Adults possess salmon pink or reddish underside, abdomen, and hind legs along with brown backs that are flecked with spots. The younger frogs have more prominent dorsal spots that are yellow in color. They can camouflage very well due to their coloration and spots.

California red-legged frogs are the largest indigenous frogs that inhabit western U.S.A.!

How cute are they?

California red-legged frogs are quite cute. They look extraordinary due to their red hind legs, belly, and underside.

How do they communicate?

Male California red-legged frogs interact with the female red-legged frogs through a range of soft, short grunts. They have been observed to runt frequently, with a growl at the end of each call. They have paired vocal sacs and typically call into the air.

How big is a California red-legged frog ?

It ranges between 2-5 in (5-12.7 cm) in length. The adult female is longer than the adult male! Its size is similar to that of the vibrantly colored tree frog!

How fast can a California red-legged frog jump?

A few California red-legged frogs have been observed to travel long lengths on the ground throughout the winter rains. Adult frogs have traveled for more than 2 mi (3.2 km) in northern Santa Cruz County!

How much does a California red-legged frog weigh?

The weight of this frog species has not been evaluated yet. However, the average weight of frogs is 0.8 oz (22.7 g)!

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no designated names for the male or female frogs of this species.

What would you call a baby California red-legged frog ?

The baby of this species can be known as a tadpole, polliwogs, larvae, or froglet!

What do they eat?

The diet of this fascinating amphibian comprises invertebrates like insects, vertebrates like fish, salamander larvae, California mice, and Pacific tree frogs, smaller amphibians, and mammals. The adult frog is nocturnal and has been observed feeding upon invertebrates mainly. Tadpoles feed on detritus, diatoms, and algae. The young frog is diurnal as well as nocturnal. The feeding of this frog happens on the water's surface and along the shoreline.  It locates its prey and then catches it with its large tongue that is quite sticky. They are preyed upon by snakes, raccoons, birds, mosquito fish, bass, foxes, egrets, herons, cats, sunfish, coyotes, and American bullfrogs. It is the primary prey of the threatened San Francisco garter snake of San Mateo County.

Are they poisonous?

No, these frogs are not poisonous!

Would they make a good pet?

These small creatures are rare in California and due to their threatened status, they cannot be kept as pets!

Did you know...

Tadpoles (larvae) of this species range between 0.6-3 in (14-80 mm) in length!

California red-legged frogs can live with bullfrogs, but the bullfrogs in the vicinity of their breeding site can cause a significant decline in the population of juveniles. They also have the ability to wipe out the whole population of a breeding site.

Why is the red-legged frog important to California?

It is one of the rare species of amphibians that can be spotted in California. It is renowned due to its feature in 'The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County' which is a short story by Mark Twain. Since the gold rush that occurred in 1849, this frog has been used as a resource for fisheries. People also consume frog legs. It is also used to check the quality of water and the quantity of vegetation in the region. This amphibian is the primary prey of many animals and preys upon invertebrates and insects. It sustains the environment's ecological balance.

Why are California red-legged frogs endangered?

These frogs are listed as a threatened species. They are threatened by loss of habitat, overexploitation, and predation by species like the American bullfrogs. Due to bullfrogs, these frogs are spotted in seasonal or intermittent aquatic habitats instead of permanent waters. They were even overharvested in the 19th and 20th centuries. As water resources are being exploited, the water habitat of these frogs is depleting and so are their breeding sites. Buildings, homes, and farms have been constructed on the wetland habitat of these frogs. The growth of suburbs and cities, invasion of non-native plants, degraded water quality, mining, overgrazing by cattle, and impoundments add to their list of threats. The colonization and fragmentation of their habitat is the most significant threat to these amphibians in the current times.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these spadefoot toad interesting facts and tree frog facts for kids pages!

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable California red-legged frog coloring pages!

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