Eastern Wood Frog

From Ohio History Central

The Eastern wood frog (Rana sylvatica sylvatica) is the only North American frog found north in Canada and Alaska. It is even found north of the Arctic Circle. Its range is farther north than any other reptile or amphibian in North America. In Ohio, the wood frog can commonly be found in the eastern two-thirds of the state.

It is usually tan to brown with an easily recognizable raccoon-like dark mask across its eyes. The mask is the best, because the wood frog can change its coloring in order to camouflage itself.

The wood frog spends almost its entire life on the ground, preferring a moist woodland habitat. It is the first frog in Ohio to come out of hibernation. It will migrate, in huge numbers, to ponds or temporary bodies of water before the ice is completely melted. During the breeding season of late February to early- March the males will attempt to attract females by calling, which sounds a lot like the quacking of a duck. Females will lay 1,000 - 5,000 eggs on the surface of the water. Within a week there will be no sign of the many wood frogs that had been near the water. The tadpoles will hatch within 2 - 3 weeks.

Adults are 1.5 - 2.75 inches long and live for three years, feeding on insects.

Unlike most frogs, the wood frog hibernates on land. In order to survive, the wood frog produces large amounts of proteins and glucose, or sugar. These are pumped throughout the frog's body. This will keep cells from freezing and prevent dehydration. Up to 45% of the frog's body may turn to ice. During this period, the frog's breathing, blood flow, and heartbeat stop. Another Ohio amphibian, the gray treefrog, can also "freeze" itself for the winter.

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