Rocky Mountain Tailed Frog

September 28, 2015
Heidi Rockney and Karen Wu
Rocky Mountain tailed frog

Photo: "Rocky Mountain Tailed Frog" by Charles Peterson is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Name: Rocky Mountain Tailed Frog (Ascaphus montanus)
Order: Frogs (Anura)
Family: Tailed Frog (Ascaphidae)

What they look like

  • 2.5-5cm
  • Coloration usually matches the rocks they live in, can be brown, gray, green, red or yellow
  • Have a triangle on nose and a darkish eye stripe
  • Males have a ‘tail’ which is actually the male reproductive organ
  • Granular roughish skin

Where they live

  • View a map of where they live
  • Recent evidence has separated this species from Ascaphus truei and a separate GAP map has not been made
  • In Washington State are found in the Blue mountains of eastern Washington
  • Rocky forest streams, prefer fast moving clear water, rarely found away from water and only on really wet nights


  • Breeding season is in the Fall and eggs are laid in the Spring/Summer
  • Eggs are laid in strings underneath big rocks
  • Tadpoles have a large sucker mouth to cling to rocks in fast water streams
  • Can take 4-5 years for tadpoles to complete metamorphosis

Cool Biology Facts

  • One of the longest living species of frogs, they can live up to 15-20 years!
  • One of the only frogs in the world that have internal fertilization
  • Males do not vocalize, possibly because the females cannot hear calls over fast moving water in streams
  • They have reduced lungs (breathe mostly through skin) which helps to limit buoyancy in water.
  • Fingertips are hardened like claws to help move around in the rocks on the fast moving water.


Map of Tailed Frog distribution in Washington state.

Map of Tailed Frog distribution in Washington state. Learn more on the NatureMapping Foundation website.

Explore more of the Amphibians & Reptiles of Washington or check out All About Amphibians.

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