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A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


California Treefrog - Pseudacris cadaverina

(Cope, 1866)

(= California Chorus Frog)
Click on a picture for a larger view



California Treefrog Range Map
Range in California: Red


Listen to this frog:


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One short call




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California Treefrog California Treefrog California Treefrog
Adult male, San Diego County Adult male, San Diego County Adult, Riverside County
California Treefrog California Treefrog California Treefrog
Adult, San Diego County Breeding adult male, San Diego County
California Treefrog California Treefrog California Treefrog
Adult, Los Angeles County Adult, Los Angeles County Adult, Los Angeles County
California Treefrog California Treefrog California Treefrog
Adult, San Diego County Pale adult, San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles County. © Randy Teets. Adult, Santa Monica Mountains,
Ventura County
© 2005 Brian Hubbs
California Treefrog California Treefrog California Treefrog
Adult, San Bernardino County
© Jeff Ahrens
Adult, San Bernardino County
© Jeff Ahrens
Adult , Santa Ana Mountains,
Orange County
© 2003 Bon Terra Consulting
California Treefrogs California Treefrogs California Treefrogs
Adult frogs on granite rocks next to a desert creek in San Diego County. These photos show how perfectly these frogs can blend in with their environment.
© Mark Gary
Adults hiding between a rock and a concrete bridge pillar, Los Angeles County © Matthew Sinkhorn
California Treefrogs California Treefrog  
Adults, San Diego County.
© Adam Clause.
California Treefrogs often assemble in large numbers at desert springs.
Close-up of enlarged pads on front toes  
     
Comparison with Similar Sympatric Species
California Treefrog comparison California Treefrog comparison  
Comparison of a California Treefrog (bottom) and a Baja California Treefrog (top) coexisting in the same creek in the San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles County. Note the dark mask through the eye of the Baja California Treefrog which is not present on the California Treefrog.
Comparison of the undersides of a California Treefrog (top) and a Baja California Treefrog (bottom) coexisting in the same creek in the San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles County.  
     
Breeding and Young
California Treefrog California Treefrog California Treefrog
Calling adult male, San Diego County Calling adult male, San Diego County Calling adult male, San Diego County
California Treefrog California Treefrogs California Treefrogs
Calling adult male, San Diego County Adult male and female in amplexus,
San Diego County
Adult male and female in amplexus,
San Diego County
California Treefrog Tadpole California Treefrog Tadpole California Treefrog Tadpole
Tadpole, San Diego County Tadpole, San Diego County Tadpole, San Diego County
California Treefrog Tadpole California Treefrog California Treefrog
Tadpole, San Diego County Recently metamorphosed juvenile,
San Diego County
Recently metamorphosed juvenile,
San Diego County
  California Treefrog  
  Recently metamorphosed juvenile,
San Diego County
 
     
Habitat
California Treefrog Habitat California Treefrog Habitat California Treefrog Habitat
Desert Oasis pool , San Diego County Desert creek habitat, San Diego County

Habitat, seasonal creek, Santa Ana Mountains, Riverside County
California Treefrog Habitat California Treefrog Habitat California Treefrog Habitat
Habitat, creek, Riverside County Habitat, small creek, San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles County Habitat, riparian desert canyon,
Riverside County
California Treefrog Habitat California Treefrog Habitat California Treefrog Habitat
Habitat, Santa Ana Mountains,
Orange County
© 2003 Bon Terra Consulting
Desert palm oasis habitat,
Riverside County
Habitat, San Gabriel Mountains,
Los Angeles County
  California Treefrog Habitat  
  Habitat, San Diego County
 
     
Short Videos
California Treefrog California Treefrog California Treefrog
A male calls on a windy night from the edge of a small pond in San Diego County. He makes three distinct sounds - a low call, then several higher-pitched calls followed by some ratcheting encounter calls, ending with another high-pitched call. Other calling California Treefrogs are heard in the background.
At night at a small pond in San Diego County, after I make an imitation of his call, a male frog repeatedly makes what appears to be his encounter call while aggressively moving towards the camera until he finally hops away. A Red-spotted Toad and other CA Treefrogs are heard in the background. A male calls on a windy night from the edge of a small pond in San Diego County. Other calling California Treefrogs are heard in the background.
  California Treefrog Tadpoles  
  California Treefrog tadpoles in a shallow sunny pool in a slow-moving creek flowing through a San Diego County desert canyon.  
   
Description
 
Size
Adults are 1.25 - 2.25 inches long from snout to vent ( 3.2 - 5.7 cm). (Stebbins & McGinnis, 2012)

Appearance
A small treefrog with webbing and expanded pads on the toes.
Color and Pattern
Skin is rough and cryptically colored: gray or brown with dark blotches, tending to match the habitat.
Usually there is no dark stripe through the eye as there is on the similar and sympatric Pseudacis hypochondriaca.
The underside is whitish.
Rear legs, groin, and lower abdomen are yellow.
Male/Female Differences
Males have dusky coloring on the throat.
Larvae (Tadpoles)
Tadpoles grow up to about 1.5 inches in length (3.7 cm). (Stebbins & McGinnis, 2012)

Comparison with sympatric Baja California Treefrogs - Pseudacris hypochondriaca
Adults

Baja California Treefrogs have a dark stripe through each eye.
California Treefrogs do not have a dark stripe through each eye.

Baja California Treefrogs are found in a variety of colors including greens, greys and browns.
California Treefrogs are mostly pale with some dark markings.


Tadpoles

Baja California Treefrog tadpoles have eyes that when seen from above are on the edge of the outline of the head.
California Treefrog tadpoles have eyes that, when viewed from above, are set barely within the outline of the head.

California Treefrog tadpoles have a flatter body than those of P. hypochondriaca, a more acute snout.
(Stebbins & McGinnis, 2012)

Life History and Behavior
Activity
Nocturnal.
Takes shelter in shaded rock crevices or small depressions on boulders near water during the day.
Most commonly found along stream channels.
Outside of the breeding season, they do not spend much time in the water.
Inactive during very cold and very hot and dry periods.
Adults use spring and summer habitat near streams, then move to crevices higher above drainages in fall and winter, remaining mostly inactive from December to mid March.
Mark and recapture studies have shown that some females are found in the same location each year.
Defense
California Treefrogs and tadpoles rely on cryptic coloring to hide from predators. When disturbed, they jump into water, returning to the shore very quickly.
Territoriality
Males exhibit aggressive territorial behavior towards other males during the breeding season.
Longevity
Not known.
Voice (Listen)
Males make an advertisement call at night from the shore, from rocks, or floating vegetation mats, and occasionally from water.

The advertisement call is a quick low-pitched duck-like quacking that ends abruptly and is given repeatedly.
Males also produce a trilled encounter or warning call when interacting closely with other males of the species.
Diet and Feeding
Eats insects, spiders, centipedes and other invertebrates.
Typical of most frogs, the prey is located by vision, then a large sticky tongue is used to catch the prey and bring it into the mouth to eat. Tadpoles feed on organic detritus and plant material.
Breeding
Reproduction is aquatic.
Fertilization is external, with the male grasping the back of the female and releasing sperm as the female lays her eggs.

The reproductive cycle is similar to that of most North American Frogs and Toads. Mature adults come into breeding condition and move to ponds or ditches where the males call to advertise their fitness to competing males and to females. Males and females pair up in amplexus in the water where the female lays her eggs as the male fertilizes them externally. The adults leave the water and the eggs hatch into tadpoles which feed in the water and eventually grow four legs, lose their tails and emerge onto land where they disperse into the surrounding territory.

Adults appear to be reproductively mature at two years of age. Mature adults come into breeding condition and move to ponds or ditches where the males call to advertise their fitness to competing males and to females.

Mating and egg-laying occurs from early February to early October after the high-flow from seasonal storms starts to decrease. Males and females pair up in amplexus in the water where the female lays her eggs as the male fertilizes them externally. The adults leave the water and the eggs hatch into tadpoles which feed in the water and eventually grow four legs, lose their tails and emerge onto land where they disperse into the surrounding territory.
Eggs
Eggs are laid singly (but tend to stick together in clusters) and are attached to twigs or other stationary debris on the bottom of quiet pools in still or slowly flowing water that is typically surrounded by rocks and boulders.
(Putting the eggs under water protects them from harmful solar UV-B rays.)
Tadpoles and Young
Tadpoles metamorphose 40 - 75 days after hatching.
For a short time, recently metamorphosed juveniles are often very common surrounding their natal pools, then they become scarce due to mortality or to their moving into other habitat.

Hybrids
"Probable natural adult hybrids between California treefrogs and Pacific treefrogs have been reported (Brattstrom and Warren, 1955; Gorman, 1960). However, attempts to hybridize these species in the laboratory have resulted in the production of inviable crosses that failed at the earliest stages of development (Maxon and Jameson, 1968; Ball and Jameson, 1970; Gaudin, 1979)."  (Edward L. Ervin, Lannoo, 2005)

Habitat
Typically found around canyon streams and rocky washes with permanent quiet pools. Found in desert streams and palm oases, coastal streams, and up into the mountain pine belt. Coexists with P. hypochondriaca in some locations, although they rarely occur in the same location.

Geographical Range
Occurs in Coastal Southern California throughout the Coast Ranges from San Luis Obispo county south to and across the Transverse Ranges east to Joshua Tree National Park, and south through the Peninsular Ranges, including the desert slopes, into northern Baja California, Mexico.
Elevational Range
Found at elevations from near sea level to 7,500 ft. (2,290 m.) (Stebbins, 2003)

Notes on Taxonomy
Alternate names are:
Hyla cadaverina
- California Treefrog
Pseudacris cadaverina - California Chorus Frog.

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
No known issues, although unpublished data suggests that some populations may be experiencing declines where non-native predatory fish have become established. (Ervin in Lanoo, 2005).
The effect of non-native aquatic predators - fish, caryfish, African Clawed Frogs, Bullfrogs - has not been determined.
Taxonomy
Family Hylidae Treefrogs Laurenti, 1768
Genus Pseudacris Chorus Frogs Fitzinger, 1843
Species cadaverina California Treefrog

(Cope, 1866)
Original Description

Originally Hyla cadaverina - Cope, 1866 - Journ. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, Ser. 2, Vol. 6, No. 2, p. 84

from Original Description Citations for the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America © Ellin Beltz

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Pseudacris - Greek - pseudes false, deceptive and Greek - akris locust - means "false Acris" with reference to genus Acris

cadaverina
- Latin - cadaver a corpse and -ina having the appearance of - refers to the pale corpse-like appearance in life of some morphs of this frog

from Scientific and Common Names of the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America - Explained © Ellin Beltz

Alternate Names
Hyla cadaverina - California Treefrog
Pseudacris cadaverina
- California Chorus Frog

Related or Similar California Frogs
Pseudacris hypochondriaca - Baja CaliforniaTreefrog

More Information and References
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

AmphibiaWeb

Stebbins, Robert C., and McGinnis, Samuel M.  Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of California: Revised Edition (California Natural History Guides) University of California Press, 2012.

Stebbins, Robert C. California Amphibians and Reptiles. The University of California Press, 1972.

Stebbins, Robert C. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003.

Behler, John L., and F. Wayne King. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.

Powell, Robert., Joseph T. Collins, and Errol D. Hooper Jr. A Key to Amphibians and Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. The University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Bartlett, R. D. & Patricia P. Bartlett. Guide and Reference to the Amphibians of Western North America (North of Mexico) and Hawaii. University Press of Florida, 2009.

Elliott, Lang, Carl Gerhardt, and Carlos Davidson. Frogs and Toads of North America, a Comprehensive Guide to their Identification, Behavior, and Calls. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009.

Lannoo, Michael (Editor). Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species. University of California Press, June 2005.

Wright, Albert Hazen and Anna Wright. Handbook of Frogs and Toads of the United States and Canada. Cornell University Press, 1949.

Davidson, Carlos. Booklet to the CD Frog and Toad Calls of the Pacific Coast - Vanishing Voices. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, 1995.

Conservation Status

The following status listings come from the Special Animals List and the Endangered and Threatened Animals List which are published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.


This frog is not included on the Special Animals List, meaning there are no significant conservation concerns for it in California according to the Dept. of Fish and Game.


Organization
Status Listing
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA)
California Endangered Species Act (CESA)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Bureau of Land Management
USDA Forest Service
 

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