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  • osstewardship

Colour-changing frogs

Many Pacific Tree frogs are shades of bright green, like this one

You've probably seen an adorable little green frog hanging out in your garden, or maybe a cute brown one in your flower pots but have you ever wondered what kind of frogs these are?

Surprise! They're actually the same species of frog, and if you've seen them both in your garden, there is even a chance they could be the exact same individual.

Pacific Tree Frogs (also sometimes called Pacific Chorus Frogs) are generally either bright green or a light brown, but will always have a black mask across their eyes and round pads on their toes. Most of the time, a Tree Frog will stay one colour its whole life but there are some individuals who can change back and forth from one to the other! These frogs that have "polymorphism" (poly= multiple, morph=appearance) don't change colour quickly like an octopus or a chameleon. It takes them days or weeks to change from one to the other. So what's the point of changing colour if you can't do it on the fly?

Tree Frogs can also be shades of brown or grey and they may even have blotches on their back

They do it for better overall camouflage! Blending in to the environment is crucial to try and avoid predators and polymorphic tree frogs will change their colours based on how bright (green) or how dull (brown or grey) their surrounding habitat is. This isn't for when they hop from green leaf to brown soil, it's more for when they move between habitats, e.g. from a bright grassy meadow into a shady riparian forest edge.


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