Canyon Tree Frog

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The other day I commented that the differences between frogs and toads are really minimal.  Furthermore, some amphibians that are classified as “toads” are pretty frog-like based on classification criteria and vice versa.  I posted some images of  Couch’s Spadefoot Toads, amphibians that some believe are more frog-like than toads.

Here’s another example of subjective classification.  This tiny and extremely cute amphibian — only about two inches long — is a Canyon Tree Frog that I photographed one night recently at Sabino Canyon.

Toads are supposed to have bumpy skin whereas frogs are supposed to have smooth skin.  This frog, however, has bumpy skin.  Go figure.

I found it sitting on the apron of one of the canyon’s bridges across Sabino Creek.  There were two or three Red-spotted Toads within feet of it and one had to look closely to determine that yes, this is a Canyon Tree Frog and not another Red-spotted Toad.

These little frogs have a limited ability to change their body appearance to match their backgrounds.  This individual comes across as a sort of creamy beige in color.  But, look closely at it and you’ll see a pattern of faint dark markings on its skin.  If the frog were sitting against a mottled background the dark areas might become much more prominent so as to help the frog camouflage itself.

Most amphibians have fascinating eyes no matter how bland their appearance might otherwise be.  The Canyon Tree Frog is no exception.  I find those dark gold eyes to be extraordinary.  The frog’s pupil is intersected by a vertical black band and a horizontal black one, giving the eye the appearance of having a cross on it.

Although Canyon Tree Frogs may be found throughout much of the southwestern United States and in a good part of Northern Mexico, they favor very specific habitats within that range.  At Sabino Canyon I see them only in the canyon’s riparian area, never more than a few yards from the creek.  That distinguishes them from some of the toads, like the Sonoran Desert and Red-spotted Toads, which may appear in the desert, hundreds of yards away from the creek, on nights after it has rained.

Image made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180mm f3.5L Macro lens assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, M setting, ISO 160, f18 @ 1/160.

One response to “Canyon Tree Frog”

  1. Tom Munson says :

    Nice shot of this cute little guy, Steve.

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