Are frogs out too early this year?

Pacific chorus frog on a bean leaf.
Photo credit: Lynn Ketchum
Q:

I've noticed the frogs are out of hibernation early in Albany and Corvallis, Oregon. What are the potential impacts of this for frogs and the ecosystem? Can coming out of hibernation in January lead to loss of life for frogs if the weather later freezes again? What do you know about the historical record on this? I've lived in my home for 13 years and never witnessed this until this year.

- Benton County, Oregon
A:

You do not mention a specific species of frog so I am assuming you are talking about Pacific chorus frogs (Pseudacris regilla), sometimes called tree frogs. These frogs can be active all year round and do not hibernate. They just get in under the duff where it's moist and they're protected from freezing and wait for warmer rainy nights. If the temperatures drop below freezing they will retreat again and wait for the temps to warm.

This is the normal mating time for these frogs and they have been mating in the Willamette Valley for about two weeks. In McMinnville they started calling around January 11th this year.

In addition, the Northern red-legged frogs (Rana aurora) are also moving to breeding ponds.

Not sure why you have never witnessed this in Albany. Maybe a neighbor put in a new pond close by and you have a lot more activity now.

But in any case, this is all normal so do not worry. Just sit back and enjoy.

Michael O'Loughlin
Master Gardener
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