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Wood Frog (Rana Sylvatica)

Updated: Oct 24, 2022

This edition of Critter Corner is brought to you by Frog Week. So, in honor of Frog Week, the featured critter for this blog post is the Wood Frog. The Wood Frog is a target species for conservation and research with PA Woods and Forests. I have had the privilege of some very neat interactions with these beautiful, medium sized frogs.


My first ever interaction was as a kid romping around the woods near my grandparents' house. I have loved wildlife since I was able to walk and as a young boy would search the woods for snakes under rocks and watch for birds. On one such occasion, I was walking on the edge of the woods where there was some thick undergrowth when I heard a very strange sound like when a rubber boot squeaks on a hard floor. I was confused at first but I looked all around me on the ground to see if I could determine where the sound came from. After a short period of searching and moving the vegetation around, I saw a pale brown frog about the size of the palm of my hand. The frog was not alone, though. Attached to his rear was a garter snake, maybe a foot long. Generally, I abide by the philosophy of non-interference with wildlife when it comes to predator/prey interactions. However, it was immediately obvious that there was no possible way this small garter snake would ever be able to swallow the Wood Frog. So, I retrieved the frog and upon moving the frog, the snake released its bite. I moved the frog a short distance away in the woods.


My next interaction with Wood Frogs would not occur until after I had graduated from college. I met Aaron Capouellez in community college through some classes we had together. At the time he and I did not know each other well. However, a few years later I discovered through a mutual friend that he was very interested in herpetology (the study of reptiles and amphibians). So I connected with Aaron through my interest in snakes as I had some questions for him. Not long after reconnecting, he invited me to go with him in the spring of 2022 on a frog walk. [Be sure to check out our YouTube channel for Frog Week as you will be able to see some footage of the experience I am about to describe] The goal of this frog walk was specifically to look for Wood Frogs in the process of mating in vernal (seasonal) pools and ponds in some of the Western Woods of Pennsylvania. It was a successful night as we found Wood Frogs at multiple locations. One stop in particular was very impressive. There were several vernal pools at this location and they were filled to the brim with mating Wood Frogs. I had never seen so many frogs in my life! There were hundreds. It was a truly incredible sight to witness. Aaron explained to me that in the process of mating, the females occasionally are drowned as males compete to try and mate with them. The temperature has to be right as well. So, there are just a few short weeks in the spring when mating is possible and occurs for these frogs.


Wood Frogs are beautiful, have an interesting sound, and are fairly common and accessible when you know where to look. They are a species I would highly recommend for the person who is new to both PA Woods and Forests and/or to learning more about native wildlife. Next spring, be on the lookout and keep an ear open.

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