July 10, 2016

Western Chorus Frog Pseudacris triseriata

Western Chorus Frog Pseudacris triseriata
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By The West View

I first encountered this unique frog as a kid, when I heard its loud mating calls in the spring.

Their call is a repeating, rising, rasping one-to-two second “prreeeep, prreeeep, prreeeep” that can carry for half of a mile on a calm day or night.

I found it difficult to sneak up on this critter, since it quit calling every time I tried to move closer.

Because its calls were so loud, I was expecting to find a large western toad or a leopard frog. When I finally spotted it, to my surprise, the frog was tiny – only about one inch long! I simply could not believe how loud this frog was able to call for its small size.

The fact that this aptly named frog actually belongs to the tree frog family helps to explain its abilities, as most tree frogs are very loud. However, the chorus frog is a unique member of that family as it does not possess the typical suction cups at the ends of its toes like other tree frogs, which allows them to climb trees.

Instead, the chorus frog has the traditional toes of most aquatic ground frogs and toads, which allows them to navigate the edges of ponds, wet meadows, flooded areas and anywhere there is shallow water with vegetation for them to hide in.

They are also good swimmers, and usually escape by swimming under the water like other frogs.

Their most likely predator is probably the exotic, introduced, large bull frog, that is now widespread in most lowland water habitats.

Chorus frogs can be easily identified because of their small size, but can also be distinguished from other young frogs by their relatively pointed snout, and the five dark brownish-green stripes that extend from the nose through the eyes and along their back and sides.

As a teenager I became so infatuated with this small frog that with the help of my mother, Norma Benson, who is an expert oil painter here in Utah, I created an oil painting of one (see accompanying photo).

Over the decades I have found the chorus frog and its captivating calls from the Salt Lake Valley floor all the way up to some of the highest natural lakes in the Uinta Mountains.

Here on the west side, we should be able to hear them now during the daytime through June, although as it gets hotter they mostly call at night. Listen for them in wetlands near the Jordan River, like in our new Fred and Ila Rose Fife Wetland Preserve on 900 South, and see if you can sneak up on one.

Attached: Photo of oil painting by D. Potts, ca. 1972