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 (breathe 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.

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