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chorus frog

The Boreal Chorus Frog (Pseudacris maculata) is found throughout the entire state of Nebraska. It's a small frog with an average body length of only 1 inch. The Chorus frog is slender with smooth yet granular skin, lacking any warty glands. While their coloration and patterns are variable, most have 3 to 5 darker brownish-green continuous or broken strips running the length of the body on a light brown or tan background. Commonly two of these strips run through the eye, extending to the tip of the nose.

The Chorus frog is generally the most abundant frog in many wet habitats at springtime. They frequent smaller temporary ponds, wet meadows, and roadside ditches after rains. They are very comfortable in grassy habitats and vegetative run-off ditches that are flooded after spring rains. Chorus frogs are commonly heard, but seldom seen; they are extremely wary. They climb on and hide in grasses and sedges, and can be found far from rivers/streams.

The Chorus frog is the first species to call in March as soon as the ice has melted in temporary wetlands and ditches. The call is the male's "advertisement vocalization" to bring females to the water to lay eggs. This call is usually elicited at night, yet many times during the breeding season (March - May) it can be heard both day and night. The vocalization is extremely loud from such a small frog. Many times when I have been sitting at night with less than a dozen Chorus frogs calling I couldn't hear myself think. The call is an insect-like trill, speeding up and rising in pitch toward the end, similar to the sound produced by running a thumb across teeth of a comb. When you approach a pond where these frogs are calling, as soon as one individual is spooked and stops calling, all the frogs stop calling. If disturbed by any larger animal the frogs will hide in grassy areas.

Chorus frogs feed on small flying and aquatic insects. They are an extremely important component of their ecosystem, serving as prey for many birds, snakes, small mammals, and even large insects.

Image of Dennis Ferraro
Dennis Ferraro
Wildlife Biologist & Herpetologist Extension Specialist
Dennis Ferraro is the resident herpetologist and wildlife biologist at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln School of Natural Resources. He has been a UNL faculty member since 1990.