Tailed Frog

Tailed Frog

October 23, 2015
Heidi Rockney and Karen Wu
Rocky Mountain Tailed Frog

Tailed Frog.
Photo: Heidi Rockney

Name: Tailed frog (Ascaphus truei)
Order: Frogs (Anura)
Family: Tailed Frog (Ascaphidae) 

What they look like

  • 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
  • In Washington State are found from the Cascade mountains to the coast, in higher mountain elevations, the population in Southeastern Washington has recently been separated into a different species, Ascaphus montanus
  • 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 on the rocks in fast water streams and feed on algae
  • Can take up to four years for tadpoles to complete metamorphosis

Cool Biology Facts

  • One of the most primitive of all frogs and their closest living relatives are in New Zealand!
  • 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
  • Have reduced lungs (breath mostly through skin) which helps to limit buoyancy in water
  • Fingertips are hardened like claws to help move around and the rocks on the fast moving water
  • One of the longest living species of frogs can live up to 15-20 years!


Distribution map.

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.

Explore Similar Stories

Placeholder for Cascades Frog

Cascade Frogs hibernate during winter and have been found up to one foot below water buried in mud.

Leatherback sea turtle on the beach

The leatherback sea turtle is the largest living reptile in the world!

Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) swimming

Some female green sea turtles have been observed digging a fake nest next to their real nest in order to deceive predators!

Back to Top