Endangered species spotlight: California red-legged frog, el mariachi

California red legged frog Endangered species spotlight: California red legged frog, el mariachiThe California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii) is currently listed as endangered.  It is found primarily in the state of California.  This was frog was made famous for its mention in Mark Twain’s short story The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.



Froggy serenades

The male red-legged frogs arrive early at the breeding grounds in groups to serenade the females with their guttural grunts.  For this reason, the title of this blog post has the phrase “el mariachi” at the end. They are the mariachis of the amphibian world.

Red-legged frogs enjoy the shade.  They cannot tolerate excessive heat and they like to hang out in ponds and streams with slow-moving water.  The population of red-legged frogs has decreased significantly in recent decades and they are now reported in only 238 streams in California. The frog has disappeared from 70 percent of its original range.  Amphibians such as the red-legged frog are good indicators of ecosystem health.  The fact that this frog population is in decline reflects the declining health of many wetlands and streams which it inhabits.

Adiós wetlands

The main threats to red-legged frogs include habitat loss, predation by invasive American bullfrogs and dwindling water resources due to increased demand for water from human activities. California has lost an estimated 90 percent of its original wetlands.  Most of this loss is due to increased water use by irrigation and energy generation.

Your call to action

There are many simple ways we can all help save critical habitat for endangered species like the red-legged frog.  We can decrease our personal water consumption by turning the water off when we are not using it, taking shorter showers, watering plants with recycled water, use a water catchment system and we can buy food that is grown locally and organically to decrease water and energy used in transportation and growing of food.   Many organizations in California are working to help conserve habitat for the red-legged frog. They include the Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and many others like the Sonoma Land Trust and Pepperwood Preserve.

Watch this cool video of a red-legged frog gobbling up an earthworm with its quick tongue!

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