Burke Museum Home

Amphibians of Washington

Rocky Mountain tailed frog
(Ascaphus montanus)


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

  • 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 most primitive of all frogs and their closest living relatives are in New Zealand!
  • One of the longest living species of frogs 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 (breath 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.


Distribution Map


Main threats include habitat destruction due to logging and roads.