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Wood Frogs

Last Updated: 3/6/17

Wood frog (female?) in my 153 gallon pond while I was cleaning it so the pond was empty on 3/29/07. See the pond cleaning page for details.

Introduction
Breeding
My Wood Frogs - including lots of photos and videos
Photos of Other People's Wood Frogs
Web Sites

To see my other frog species, go to the frog species page.


Introduction

Rana sylvatica, the wood frog, is a frog that only spends time around water during breeding. They grow to about 2 to 3 inches. I bought a few tadpoles to add to the pond in 1997. In the summer of 1998, I thought I saw an adult but I had a 100% sure sighting in early July, 1999 of a full grown adult wood frog who posed for photos (he was too small for me to scan them in). I saw a young adult in the pond a few weeks later. They are brown, cute, and skittish. Wood frogs are diurnal (active during the day) but seem to call mostly at dusk. The males quack in early spring to breed. After breeding, adults may venture far from water in the woods. The wood frog is the only North American frog that breeds north of the Arctic Circle. They hibernate on land and can freeze solid in winter and live.


Breeding

------->

In March (in Zone 7), wood frogs are one of the earliest frogs to show up at ponds to lay their eggs. They may lay eggs when there is still some ice and snow around. They usually will come out on the first semi-warm (above 50 degrees F or so) day after a good rain. The males will find a pond, preferring one without fish, and start calling. The call is like the quack of a duck.. This attracts the females who are almost twice as large, at least while egg-laden. The couple will lay egg masses that are amazingly large for the size of the frogs. I have photos of wood frogs and their eggs in my section below as they breed in my 153 gallon pond most years.


My Wood Frogs

1997:

I added about a dozen wood frog tadpoles to my then-new 1800 gallon pond.

This paragraph pertains to people in the United States. I do not know about other countries. A few people have asked me about buying wood frog eggs, tadpoles, or adults. The place I got mine from (I think it was just an individual) was gone a few years later. When I got those tadpoles, I was not aware of the details about species and legalities. I believe that it is illegal in most (if not all states) to buy, sell, or possess the eggs, tadpoles, or adults of native amphibians. Exceptions are made for bullfrogs and green frogs as they are regulated as fish. I believe interstate transport of native amphibians is also prohibited or restricted. Some states allow for the possession of one adult native frog of certain species. Be sure to check out the web site of your state's Department of Natural Resources (or Wildlife) for the rules that apply for you.

If you would like wood frogs in your pond, then you have a few options. If they are native to the area, then wait; they may come on their own. If not, then, if you can find a pond that is close to where you live with wood frog spawn and get the permission of the land owner, then you could move some eggs or tadpoles. Moving adults is not recommended. Introducing any frog to a location to which it is not native is also not recommended. Most frogs imprint on their birth pond location and tend to return there to breed. I absolutely do NOT recommend keeping wood frogs as confined indoor pets. Wood frogs spend most of their life hiding among trees. They will not be very happy in a small aquarium. If you find a wood frog, please let it live its natural life so it is free and able to breed. Amphibians have enough problems trying to survive.

1998:

No wood frog sightings as the babies were growing up.

1999:

In July, I saw one adult.

2000:

My wood frogs laid eggs in my 153 gallon pond on 3/12/00. The male called at dusk like a duck beginning on 3/9/00. Two ball egg masses of about 3 inches by 3 inches were laid floating on the surface among plants. Wood frogs reportedly will lay eggs while ice is still on the pond but we were having a warm spell. I never noticed any juveniles leaving the pond but the tadpoles slowly vanished over time.

2001:

I awaited the wood frogs' return in March of 2001 but it was not until two inches of rain fell that they showed up at dusk on 3/21/01. I took a flash light to find them. I saw a male and large female and at least one or two others (they were hiding under moving leaves) who were just sitting in my 50 gallon lotus tub.

2002:

The wood frogs did not show up in 2002 due to the worst drought in 100 years.

2003:

After a few years absence, finally, on the night of 3/21/03, I heard a strange noise. Not quite a quack, but a noise nonetheless. A flashlight revealed it was a wood frog!! You can read more about them in my April 2003 pond newsletter. On 3/23/03, an egg mass was in the 50 gallon lotus tub. I had to clean the tub that day as it was a cesspool after three years (lots of food for tadpoles I guess but lots of sources of fungus and other nasties too)! So, I set the eggs aside, cleaned it, and put them back. I covered them with vinyl-coated hardware cloth to keep predators off, added some hornwort for cover when they hatched, and added fish food to feed them. The eggs started to hatch on 4/3/03! It took 12 days! Below are the photos I took of the eggs and frogs.

Photos of the wood frogs and eggs at my pond in 2003:

Wood frog eggs in dirty 50 gallon lotus tub as laid, 3/23/03.
Wood frog eggs in a yellow bucket, 3/23/03.
Female wood frog in 153 gallon pond, 3/23/03; the eggs are hers.
Wood frog eggs in cleaned 50 gallon tub pond, protected from predators, close-up, 3/28/03.
Wood frog eggs in 50 gallon lotus tub pond, from a distance, 3/28/03.

2004:

No wood frogs!

2005:

The wood frogs came back in record numbers in March 2005!!! On 3/23/05, they started to call. There was at least two of each sex, perhaps three of each! I am pretty sure there were at least 3 males and 1 female but as many as 3 of each. They laid half a dozen clumps of eggs over a few days in my 153 gallon pond. I cleaned it on 3/25/05, setting the eggs aside at the time. You can read about the cleaning on my 153 gallon pond cleaning page. I put one bunch in my 20 gallon tub pond which the raccoons later tore up. I hoped to soon have lots of wood frog tadpoles!! You can read more about the wood frogs also in my April 2005 newsletter. The eggs began to hatch on 4/6/05 so it took two weeks mostly due to the low temperatures. The wood frog tadpoles had good back legs and may leave soon as of 6/4/05 so it takes two months or more for them to change to adults. That is longer than I thought but certainly much shorter than green frogs (up to a year) and bullfrogs (up to 2 years).

Wood frog eggs in the 153 gallon pond on 4/5/05, the day before they started to hatch.
Wood frog eggs being held in a bucket on 3/25/05.
Male wood frog in the 50 gallon lotus tub on 3/25/05.

2006:

The wood frogs came back on 3/12/06 when the temperature went into the 70's (degrees F). The morning of 3/14/06, the wood frogs were really making a lot of noise. I went over to the 153 gallon pond. There were something like 6 to 8 of them in there! I even saw an amplexing pair and a pile of eggs already. Since I needed to clean that pond in a few weeks, I moved three wads of eggs to my 20 gallon tub pond the next day and would move the tadpoles back to the 153 gallon after cleaning. It is really impossible to sift through newborn wood frogs when cleaning a pond. It may take up to two weeks for the eggs to hatch since it is getting cold again.

My mother told me an interesting story when I got home on 3/14/06. I had hoped to get a short movie of the wood frogs courting and calling but they were all hiding. The winds were gusting to 30 mph. It was no longer summer but horrific outside. Thousands of leaves blanketed the ponds. Anyway, my mother says that that morning, she was looking towards the 153 gallon pond where the half dozen wood frogs were having the time of their lives. Then, in a flash, a red-tailed hawk swooped a foot off the ground, grabbed a wood frog, flew up, and shredded it. I was not happy to hear that.

Update 6/17/06: The wood frog tadpoles, who were just under an inch long, now had legs and would be leaving soon so it takes about 3 months for them to get through the tadpole stage.

I cleaned out the 153 gallon pond on 3/30/06. You can read about it here in detail. I got some great photos and a video below from that day!

Video!

While the wood frogs were in the buckets during the 153 gallon pond cleaning on 3/30/06, several males started to call. This surprised me as they are very shy. After I put them all back into the 153 gallon pond, the males started calling again. I tried to get a few short videos with the digital camera. There was one amplexing occurring but it was a male wood frog on a poor green frog! You can see it at the end of the video. I am sure he thought he hit pay dirt with a really big egg-laden female!

Wood Frogs - 2645 KB, mpg movie.

I would later find that I had not linked in the other video of them at the time because they were not calling but that video is now up:
Wood frogs hanging out - 3/30/06 movie.

Photos of wood frogs and their eggs from the 153 gallon pond cleaning on 3/30/06:

Wood frogs waiting in the bucket.
Female wood frog sitting on land.
Male wood frog in the water.
Wood frog eggs - view of the entire bucket of wood frog eggs I set aside from the 20 gallon pond and then spread around into the 20, 50, and 153 gallon ponds.
Wood frog eggs - view closer in.
Wood frog eggs - close-up of a few eggs so you can see the tadpole's heads.

2007:

The wood frogs starting calling after a day of rain on 3/15/07. Eggs would appear soon.

The morning of 3/23/07, there were three wood frog egg masses in my 153 gallon pond. They were calling like mad the night before. A few days later, they added a few more egg masses (five total).

They also laid a couple of batches in the 50 gallon tub pond which I cleaned on 3/25/07. For details, go here. Here are the photos relevant to the wood frogs from that day:

Two batches of wood frog eggs in the bucket
Cleaned pond - the new fountain, two batches of wood frog eggs, and can you see the green frog on the right?
Close up of wood frog eggs - once the pond was back together.

These photos are from the 3/29/07 cleaning of the 153 gallon pond:
Wood frog eggs in one of the former cat litter bucket. The photo is not very clear.
Wood frog - the wood frog hopped into the pond after it was completely empty (before vacuuming) so I took photos and then moved her to the 50 gallon tub pond so I would not harm her.
Wood frog - view of the frog from a distance (the photo above is a close-up of this one).
Wood frog
Wood frog
Wood frog eggs back in the 153 gallon pond. You can see tiny air bubbles on them from the well water's gases coming out in solution. The cleaning made about a 50% water change but it still causes this problem.
Wood frog eggs close-up of the next photo showing the little tadpoles. You can see their little heads
Wood frog eggs

Wood frog egg video - I took this video around this time but, for some reason, I never linked it in here so here it is!

The wood frog eggs hatched on 4/3/07 in the 153 gallon pond and a few days later in the 50 gallon pond. They hatched in just 11 days! Those weeks were pretty warm which is why the hatching was so quick compared to previous years (when it was about 2 weeks to hatch).

2008:

On 3/16/08, a male wood frog was calling in my 20 gallon tub pond. I was really surprised he even called when I got close.
Wood frog and the pond
Close-up of the wood frog - from a separate photo. I also got a video with two of his quacks which you can see below.
Wood Frog - 1324 KB, mpg movie.
A male wood frog calling in my 20 gallon tub pond on 3/16/08.

2009:

It was a cold winter but on 3/8/09, it was 75 degrees F! Three male wood frogs showed up to sing. One found a mate and amplexed on 3/9/09. There were no obvious eggs by the next day. I found the first eggs on 3/12/09, just one mass. Another mass appeared a few days later. The eggs hatched on 3/28/09, just three days before I meant to clean out the 153 gallon pond. I used a bowl to scoop the unhatched eggs and a lot of the tadpoles out and put them in to the 50 gallon tub pond. I later put a few in the 20 gallon tub pond. On 4/1/09, when I cleaned the 153 gallon pond, I saved as many wood frog tadpoles as I could but they were so tiny so it was hard.

These photos were taken of the wood frogs on 3/8/09:
Male wood frog
Two male wood frogs
Male wood frog

On 3/13/09, I took these two photos of the wood frog eggs which had been laid about two days before:
Wood frog eggs in the water
Wood frog eggs lifted out of the water

I took these two photos of the 50 gallon tub pond on 4/25/09 showing the wood frog tadpoles in there:
Wood frog tadpoles in 50 gallon tub pond.
Wood frog tadpoles in 50 gallon tub pond, closer in.

The wood frog tadpoles started getting legs and leaving in June. Here is a photo of one baby from 6/7/09 that had all four legs but still had a tail. They were sitting on the lily pads as they were preparing for their new terrestrial life. This was the best photo of almost a dozen; the camera will not focus on something so small (yes, I tried with and without macro mode, without was better).
Baby wood frog

2010:

The wood frogs showed up on 3/12/10 following rain. By 3/15/10, the wood frogs were really calling. I found one ball of eggs and four frogs in the 153 gallon pond that I could see. Two males were grabbed on to a big female; one male was on the wrong end! It looked like all three frogs would be in pain from their tight positioning. When the third male swam over, the male on the right end of the female kicked him in the head. I would have taken a photo but they soon vanished. I think there are at least a few more frogs since they dive when I approach.

The eggs in the 153 gallon hatched on 3/26/10 before I got a chance to move them! There are also eggs in the 50 gallon tub pond which I removed and put back when I cleaned it out on 3/28/10.

I took this video on 3/19/10 at dusk. You can hear the wood frog males calling and spring peepers in the background (farther away).
Wood Frogs - 3650 KB, mpg movie.

The wood frog tadpoles in the 50 gallon pond did well eating fish food and left sometime in June.

On 9/26/10, I found a dead wood frog at the pond overflow. Its leg was skinned, and he had been dead a while (since dessicated).

2011:

It poured rain all day on 3/6/11. The wood frogs started calling that night. By morning, there were two egg masses in the 153 gallon pond.

I moved those egg masses to the 50 gallon indoor Rubbermaid stock tank pond on 3/13/11. On 3/10/11, the frogs laid more eggs and more the next night! I did not want to have to deal with all the newly-hatched tadpoles when I clean out the 153 gallon pond hopefully on 3/30/11 so I cleaned out the 50 gallon tub pond early on 3/13/11 and moved nine (yes, nine!) wood frog egg masses to that pond. They will be safe from cleaning, filtration, and fish in there.

Photos from 3/13/11:
Wood frog eggs in my hand in the 153 gallon pond.
Wood frog eggs in my hand in the 153 gallon pond.
Wood frog eggs in the 153 gallon pond.
Woodfrog eggs in a bucket being transferred from the 153 gallon to the 50 gallon pond. There were seven batches of eggs.
Woodfrog eggs- close-up.

The eggs in the basement hatched on 3/17/11, at exactly 11 days as predicted from previous years!

These photos are from 3/19/11:
Wood frog tadpoles that hatched out in my 50 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank basement tub pond.
Wood frog tadpoles
Wood frog tadpoles - close-up of the last photo

The eggs in the 50 gallon started to hatch on 3/27/11 after 17 days since it had been cold.

I moved the tadpoles from the basement pond outside on 5/4/11. There were a few hundred and at least a dozen had back legs already. They went in to the 153 gallon pond.

These photos are from 5/4/11 when I removed the woodfrog tadpoles from the 50 gallon basement pond.
Woodfrog tadpoles
Woodfrog tadpoles - close in view. There are some ramshorn snails in there too.

2012:

My mother says that she heard a male wood frog on 2/28/12. I do not doubt it. This year, we did not have a real winter. Bulbs are blooming early. The frogs are coming a few weeks earlier than normal.

The morning of 3/1/12, there were two blobs of wood frog eggs. There were a dozen some wood frogs around! The next morning, there were about five egg masses. I will have to clean out the tub ponds early, before the eggs fall apart and hatch.

Wood frog video - about a dozen wood frogs were calling and spawning on 3/1/12 in this video. The males quieted down once I approached but I got some of them on video. The video ends on batches of wood frog eggs.

Here are photos of the wood frogs from 3/1/12:
Male wood frog and eggs in the 50 gallon tub pond
Male wood frog and eggs - another view
Wood frog in the 153 gallon pond

On 3/6/12, I cleaned out the 50 gallon tub pond. I found probably 8 masses in the 50 gallon tub pond and another 5 masses in the 153 gallon pond. They all went back in to the 50 gallon tub pond. If I had waited just another day or two, it would have been hard to clean as the egg masses were already starting to fall apart which they do days before hatching. I found no adult wood frogs; they have already left!

I took these photos on 3/6/12 when I cleaned out the 50 gallon pond.
50 gallon tub pond before being cleaned, full of wood frog eggs.
Wood frog eggs
Wood frog eggs in my hand

I cleaned out the 153 gallon pond on 3/14/12. There were four wood frogs in there. While waiting during the cleaning, the males were amplexing with the green frogs (mostly the MALE green frogs!). I also found three masses of wood frog eggs that were almost ready to hatch! They were falling apart. I managed to save most of the eggs which went back in this pond. The eggs in the 50 gallon pond should hatch at any minute.

Here are photos of 15 green frogs, 4 wood frogs, and 2 bullfrogs waiting in a bucket while I cleaned out the 153 gallon pond on 3/14/12. Yes, some were amplexing with each other.
Frog Party - wood frog at the bottom center
Frog Party - male wood frog amplexing male green frog
Frog Party - frogs all over
Wood frog - back in the pond
Video of the Frogs in the bucket

Wood frog embryos - just about to hatch on 3/14/12, waiting in the kiddie pool while I cleaned the 153 gallon pond

The wood frog tadpoles were hatched and all over by 3/17/12. I have never seen so many!

On 5/26/12, when I was hand cutting some plants, I discovered a wood frog. This was only the second time I have seen one outside of spawning season in March and sometimes in to April. I wanted to get photos but he hopped away quickly.

2013:

It went up to 60 degrees F on 3/11/13 after a very cold previous month. I rained overnight and most of the day on 3/12/13. The wood frogs were out calling that morning. When I saw them, they had already laid a few egg masses.

Video of the wood frogs calling on 3/12/13. You can hear the call, see a male, and see some eggs. Sorry that the camera is shaking but I was moving!

I did not get around to cleaning out the 50 gallon tub pond until 3/14/13. I really had to clean the 50 gallon pond regardless because in a few days, the wood frog eggs would fall apart, and in about two weeks, they would hatch. It is impossible to clean a pond with hundreds of loose eggs and/or minute tadpoles without killing at least half of them. You can read the details of the pond cleaning in my March 2013 pond blog. I found one egg mass in the 50 gallon pond and five in the 153 gallon pond. After the 50 gallon pond cleaning, I put all the wood frog eggs in the 153 gallon pond. I also found a female wood frog who I put in the 153 gallon pond and a male frog who went back in the 50 gallon pond.

Wood frog eggs sitting in a bucket on 3/14/13.

I cleaned out the 153 gallon pond on 3/30/13 and found the male wood frog with the missing eye and two female wood frogs in the water and later two more wood frogs under an edging brick that I lifted up. There was one full egg mass and a bunch of individual wood frog eggs that I picked out of the pond slop. I saved as many as I could. The eggs are nearing hatching.

Here are photos of 9 green frogs, 3 wood frogs, and 2 pickerel frogs waiting in a bucket while I cleaned out the 153 gallon pond on 3/30/13.
Frog party
Frog party - wood frog on the right
Frog party
Frog party
Wood frog enjoying the clean pond and no more bucket!

I found wood frog tapdoles in my 1800 gallon pond for the first time in May of 2013. They are everywhere but seem to have vanished from the 50 gallon tub pond where I put most of the eggs. Hopefully, they are just hiding out of sight (the water is not clear).

2014:

The winter of 2013 to 2014 was unusually long, cold, and full of snow. As of 3/23/14, we had only had a few days that were warm and only one day of rain which usually triggers the wood frogs. It snowed on 3/25/14! I cleaned the 153 gallon pond on 3/27/14, and it was so cold. The air temperature was 21 degrees F at dawn but up to about 40 degrees F by the time I was done. There were no wood frogs anywhere. Then, finally, on 3/29/14, the temperature got over 50 degrees F, and it rained all day. I heard a wood frog! Stay tuned!

2015:

The winter of 2014/2015 was brutal. We had snow in to March. On 3/27/15, I saw wood frogs in the morning after it rained. When I got home that night, I first heard a wood frog calling and found my first batch of eggs in the 50 gallon tub pond. On 3/29/15, I cleaned out that tub pond. Aside from the batch of eggs which I removed before anything else, I found one amplexing pair and three individual wood frogs. While the eggs were set aside and put back in to the 50 gallon when done, I put the four frogs in the 153 gallon pond which itself has yet to be cleaned.

2016:

On 3/2/16, I found two large masses of wood frog eggs in my 50 gallon pond! I have not even seen or heard any wood frogs yet! I did see a splash that was probably a wood frog. After work, I dipped a bucket in to the pond to get the eggs and put them in my 20 gallon indoor tub pond. The reason is that, one it is going to get below freezing again and soon, and two, I have not yet cleaned out that pond. Once I get tadpoles, it is too hard to sort them out from the debris. I use a pond vacuum too which does not care what it sucks up. The future tadpoles will be going back in that pond before they are ready to morph.

Wood frog eggs on 3/2/16.

It got really warm in the 70's, and the wood frog males were quacking on the evenings of 3/8/16 and 3/9/16.

On 3/13/16, I cleaned out the 20 and 50 gallon tub ponds early because of all the wood frogs. I found three clumps of their eggs and seven wood frogs in the 50 gallon pond. After cleaning it, I put the eggs back and added three more clumps of eggs from the 153 gallon pond.

The first wood frog eggs started to hatch in the 50 gallon pond on 3/25/16.

Photos of wood frog tadpoles in the 50 gallon tub pond on 3/26/16.
Wood frog tadpoles
Wood frog tadpole - close-up

I moved two more bunches of wood frog eggs from the 153 gallon pond to the 50 gallon pond on 3/27/16. One bunch was in the process of hatching!

2017:

On 2/26/17, I found a mass of eggs which I moved from the 50 gallon tub pond to the 20 gallon tub pond since the 20 gallon tub pond was already cleaned.

I moved two wood frog eggs masses from the 50 gallon tub pond to the 20 gallon tub pond and another six masses from the 153 gallon pond to the 20 gallon tub pond. The 20 gallon tub pond is the only one that I have cleaned so far. As soon as I clean the others, I will move eggs/tadpoles back over the other ponds. It is nearly impossible to clean a pond when there are newly-hatched wood frog tadpoles (or any kind of tadpoles for that matter) in there. They are just too tiny to remove without killing many of them. They will take a few weeks to hatch and then be slow to grow at first so there should be time to get things back in order.


Photos of Other People's Wood Frogs

Photos are listed from oldest to newest. Photos of the wood frogs at my ponds are above under my wood frogs.

Ariel sent these photos on 7/6/07 for identification. I think it is a wood frog.
Wood frog
Wood frog

Heidi sent this photo of a wood frog on 11/3/09:
Wood frog


Web Sites

These links were last checked on 4/12/07.

To see a photo of a wood frog and hear a call, go to this frog site .

To see another photo, hear a call, and get info, go to the Toronto Zoo site.

You can hear and see a wood frog and its tadpoles at Frogs & Toad of Virginia & Maryland. This is an archived version as the site no longer exists.

These two sites also have photos, calls, and information on the wood frog:
The Frogs & Toads of Tennessee
The Frogs & Toads of Georgia

For a funny story about a wood frog, see "Mystery of the Clucking Frog". This is an archived version as the site no longer exists.

Here is an article on wood frogs freezing solid in winter.


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