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Invisible Frogs

November 5, 2015

A Science Update listener wants to know the identity of a nightly neighborhood noisemaker.


6122083058_aa28990434_z Pacific Chorus Frog USFW Teal Waterstrat CC BY 2.0

Often hiding in leaves or flower petals during the day, Pacific chorus frogs liven up the night. (Teal Waterstrat /USFWS-Pacific Region/CC BY 2.0)


The case of the cryptic croakers. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

[frog chorus] In the evenings, Science Update listener Wayne Dupont in California has been hearing these sounds, which he presumes are frogs.

WAYNE DUPONT (Science Update listener):

However, during the day, we never see them. Why is that?


We asked San Francisco State University herpetologist Vance Vredenburg, who told us that the loud singers are male Pacific chorus frogs. But you won’t see the thumb-sized frogs during the day for a very good reason.

VANCE VREDENBURG (San Francisco State University):

They’re snackable. I mean, they’re pretty good things to eat, and so these guys tend to really hide out in burrows, they’ll actually go underwater into ponds and creeks, they’ll hide under rocks. They’ll even sort of hide in trees themselves, and another name for the Pacific chorus frog is the Pacific tree frog because they’re oftentimes found up in the vegetation. 


So if you want to see them, you’ll need to be as nocturnal as they are. If you’ve got a science question, give us a call at 1-800-WHY-ISIT or email us from our website, I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Pacific chorus frog calls courtesy: Frog and Toad Calls of the Pacific Coast — Vanishing Voices. For commercial use, contact Carlos Davidson ([email protected])