Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pickerel Frogs

Pickerel frogs (Rana palustris) are early season inhabitants of cool bottomland ponds, long-cycle vernal pools and quiet pools along slow moving streams often emerging after wood frog activity ceases in late March.  Though their ranges overlap in eastern Ohio competition rarely occurs due to preference for differing habitat, with wood frogs favoring warmer upland mid-cycle vernal pools.  One of the more colorful anurans in eastern Ohio, pickerel frogs sport a copper base with chocolate parallel squares dorsally and a bright yellow wash on the underside of each leg.  Male vocalizations are likened to rubbing a wet hand over a balloon and have little carrying power.  Pickerel frogs are known for their tendency to stray large distances from water in the summer months often appearing in backyards, upland wooded slopes and damp fields. 

Adult pickerel frog.  In some cases the dorsal chocolate blotches
blend together appearing as parallel lines.  Northern leopard
frogs (Rana pipiens) somewhat resemble pickerel frogs except
they have less dorsal blotching that is more circular than
rectangular and more green integrated into the base color.  
Leopard frgs are rarely encountered in the watershed area.

A pickerel frog egg mass.  The mass structure closely resembles
that of the wood frog however I have noted individual cells in
wood frog masses appear overall larger in diameter than pickerel
frog.  Another characterstic to consider is habitat when
distinguishing between the two as discusssed above. 
       

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