The Pacific treefrog tadpoles spent the summer transforming into mini-frogs. Meanwhile, their name changed to Sierran treefrog.
--- On June 13th in the kitchen tank, most of the treefrog tadpoles (top three) had legs,
but the California toad tadpole (bottom) did not. ---
In late May, the Plum Pond had treefrog tadpoles at several stages of development swimming about the warm, shallow water eating mostly algae. The youngest tadpoles had small rear limbs pushing out of the base of their tails. Frogs with larger legs used them to navigate through tangled vegetation.
On some Plum Pond tadpoles, the pair of front legs had burst out of a fold of skin in front of the belly. At this point, the tadpole is about to come out of the water and there are numerous internal changes also occurring. Its tail gets less finlike and more stump-like as it is adsorbed into the body. Lungs develop. The tadpole stops eating for a short time while its sucking mouth converts to jaws and its digestive system is converting from one that processes vegetable matter to one that breaks down animal matter.
it also has new rear legs and soon the front legs will push through the bulge in front of the belly. ---
left - newly metamorphosed treefroglet,
right - treefrog tadpole. ---
With all 4 limbs, the metamorph creeps out of the water, although it quickly leaps back in whenever disturbed. Over the next 5 or so days, the stumpy tail disappears completely. Initially, the froglet looks dark and skeletal, much smaller than the tadpole of a few days ago, probably due to its temporary fasting during metamorphosis.
--- The first treefrog to metamorphose in the kitchen tank is a rich copper color. ---
The young frog will use the suction-like discs on its toepads to climb pond vegetation where it will sit in wait for passing prey, mostly small, flying insects. If successful at its new hunting strategy, it will fill out into the more typical frog shape.
Some herpetologists have recommended reclassifying the Pacific treefrog because of differences in its body structure from the eastern treefrog, and also because of subtle differences between the populations throughout its California range, including something to do with those fancy toepads. For this blog site, I've committed to using the nomenclature and taxonomy for reptiles and amphibians as designated by the California Herps website because I think it's a good resource that stays current with the experts and particularly with field biologists working in California. While the tadpoles were transforming this summer, Gary Nafis converted to the new treefrog names on his website and I am too. See the California Herps website for more details on this name change and distribution maps.
Sierran treefrog, Pseudacris sierra - formerly called Pacific Treefrog, Pacific chorus frog, Hyla regilla or Pseudacris regilla.
California toad - Bufo boreas halophilus