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A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California





Breeding, Eggs, and Tadpoles  of
California Red-legged Frog - Rana draytonii

Baird and Girard, 1852
 










observation link

 
Breeding Amplexus
California Red-legged Frog California Red-legged Frog California Red-legged Frog California Red-legged Frog
Male California Red-legged Frog in breeding amplexus with an American Bullfrog in Santa Cruz County.
© Michael G. Starkey
Adult male in amplexus with a California Toad, Contra Costa County.

A second adult male in amplexus with a California Toad,  Contra Costa County.


Female Rana draytonii are larger than males, and the larger they are, the more fertile they appear to the males. So it is common for males to prefer to amplex large juvenile American Bullfrogs when they both occur in the same pond. This can lead to a reduction in the numbers of Rana draytonii. Read more information about this troubling conservation issue below. Juvenile bullfrogs are not the only other species that male Rana draytonii will attempt to breed with. One day at two ponds where California Toads were breeding, I saw three examples of this two-species amplexus. Two individual pairs are shown above and the third is below.
California Red-legged Frog California Red-legged Frog California Red-legged Frog California Red-legged Frog
A third adult male in amplexus with a California Toad, being mobbed by other male toads, Contra Costa County. Two male red-legged frogs in amplexus with California Toads.

Eggs
California Red-legged Frog Eggs California Red-legged Frog Eggs California Red-legged Frog Eggs California Red-legged Frog Eggs
Eggs in habitat, Contra Costa County Eggs, Contra Costa County Eggs, Contra Costa County Eggs, Contra Costa County
California Red-legged Frog Eggs California Red-legged Frog Eggs California Red-legged Frog Eggs California Red-legged Frog Eggs
Eggs, Contra Costa County Egg mass, Sonoma County
© Bill Stagnaro
Eggs, Sonoma County
© Bill Stagnaro
Eggs, Sonoma County
© Bill Stagnaro
California Red-legged Frog Eggs California Red-legged Frog Eggs California Red-legged Frog Eggs California Red-legged Frog Eggs
Egg mass, Sonoma County
© Bill Stagnaro
Eggs in a pond in mid March, Contra Costa County. © Mark Gary Eggs in a pond in mid March, Contra Costa County. © Mark Gary Developing eggs in a pond in mid March, Contra Costa County. © Mark Gary
California Red-legged Frog Eggs California Red-legged Frog Eggs California Red-legged Frog Eggs California Red-legged Frog Eggs
Eggs in a pond in mid March, Contra Costa County. © Mark Gary Egg masses in Alameda County © Joseph E. DiDonato. Eggs in a pond, Alameda County
© 2000 Joyce Gross
California Red-legged Frog Eggs California Red-legged Frog Eggs california toad eggs california toad eggs
Freshly-laid egg mass, late February, Contra Costa County There are three types of frog eggs in this Contra Costa County pond in mid March:
the large mass on top is from a California Red-legged Frog,
the long strings of eggs are from  the California Toad,
and the small balls of eggs are from  the Sierran Treefrog.

© Mark Gary
There are four types of amphibian eggs in this Alameda County pond in late Fegruary:
On the top left near the surface is a Sierran Treefrog egg mass.
To the right and slightly below that is a California Newt egg mass.
Below these small egg masses are several recently-hatched California Toad egg strings (no longer eggs, really.)
And the large egg mass in the bottom right corner of the picture is from a
California Red-legged Frog.

© Mark Gary
     
Tadpoles
California Red-legged Frog Tadpole California Red-legged Frog Tadpole California Red-legged Frog Tadpole California Red-legged Frog Tadpole
Tadpole, Monterey County, on top, with CA Tiger Salamander larva on bottom. Tadpole, Monterey County
© 2004 William Leonard
Mature tadpole in water at edge of pond, Contra Costa County. Mature tadpole in a pond, Contra Costa County.
California Red-legged Frog Tadpole California Red-legged Frog Tadpole California Red-legged Frog Tadpole California Red-legged Frog Tadpole
California Red-legged frog tadpole Top - CA Red-legged frog tadpole.
Bottom - Sierran Treefrog tadpole
Right - CA Red-legged frog tadpole.
Left - Sierran Treefrog tadpole
Recently deceased mature tadpole in a pond, Contra Costa County.
The eyes of the tadpoles of Rana draytonii are inset from the margins of the head when seen from above, while the eyes of the tadpoles of the sympatric Sierran Treefrog - Pseudacris sierra and the Baja California Treefrog - Pseudacris hypochondriaca extend to the margins of the head, as you can see in the above photos from Alameda Counthy. © Joseph E. DiDonato.  
California Red-legged Frog Tadpole California Red-legged Frog Tadpole California Red-legged Frog Tadpole California Red-legged Frog Tadpole
Tadpole, Santa Clara County © Rob Schell
Mature tadpoles and recent metamorph, Santa Barbara County
© Vince Semonsen
tadpoles tadpoles
Comparisons of a California Red-legged Frog tadpole and a Foothill Yellow-legged Frog tadpole, both from Santa Clara County. © Owen Holt
California Red-legged Frog      
Tadpole, Santa Cruz County
© Neil Keung 
Animal capture and handling authorized under Federal permits and State Parks permits.

     
Short Videos
California Red-legged Frog California Red-legged Frog California Red-legged Frog Eggs California Red-legged Frog Tadpoles
Two male California Red-legged Frogs are seen here in a Contra Costa County pond in March in amplexus with California Toads (possibly female.) Male toads attempt to wrestle the frogs off their prospective mates. When they grab the frogs, the frogs give their low chuckling release call, while the toads make their peeping release call. The video also starts and ends with the frog release calls. More shots of male California Red-legged frogs in amplexus with California Toads. A brief look at two masses of fresh red-legged frog eggs in a small pond. Quick looks at a few large California red-legged frog tadpoles in a couple of small ponds. It's hard to get good pictures of these tadpoles because I'm not allowed to catch them. The one shown above was actually injured and dying floating at the edge of a pond, so I was able to get it in focus, at least.


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