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Rana draytonii

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Cladus: Sarcopterygii
Cladus: Rhipidistia
Cladus: Tetrapodomorpha
Cladus: Eotetrapodiformes
Cladus: Elpistostegalia
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Amphibia
Subclassis: Lissamphibia
Ordo: Anura

Familia: Ranidae
Genus: Rana
Species: Rana draytonii

Rana draytonii Baird & Girard, 1852

Type locality: "San Francisco, California, and on Columbia River".

Syntypes: USNM 11497 (6 specimens).

Rana Draytonii Baird & Girard, 1852
Rana Lecontii Baird & Girard, 1853
Rana nigricans Hallowell, 1854
Rana longipes Hallowell, 1859
Rana lecontei — Brocchi, 1881
Epirhexis longipes — Yarrow, 1882
Rana draytoni draytoni — Cope, 1889
Rana aurora draytoni — Camp, 1917
Rana (Aurorana) draytonii — Dubois, 1992
Rana (Aurorana) draytonii — Shaffer, Fellers, Voss, Oliver & Pauly, 2004
Rana (Laurasiarana, Amerana) draytonii — Hillis & Wilcox, 2005
Rana (Amerana) draytonii — Dubois, 2006


Baird and Girard, 1852, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, 6: 174.
Dubois, 2006, C. R. Biol., 329: 830.
Frost, D.R. 2021. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.1. Electronic Database accessible at https://amphibiansoftheworld.amnh.org/index.php. American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA. DOI: 10.5531/db.vz.0001 Rana draytonii . Accessed on 05 July 2008.
2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species IUCN: Rana draytonii (Not Evaluated) Downloaded on 05 July 2008.

Vernacular names
English: California Red-legged Frog

The California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii) is a species of frog found in California (USA) and northern Baja California (Mexico). It was formerly considered a subspecies of the northern red-legged frog (Rana aurora).[2] The frog is an IUCN vulnerable species, and a federally listed threatened species of the United States, and is protected by law.[1][3]


The California red-legged frog is found in California and extreme northern Baja California, northwestern Mexico.[1] This species now occurs most commonly along the northern and southern Coast Ranges, and in isolated areas in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.[1] The current southernmost California populations are on the Santa Rosa Plateau in Riverside County, and within the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve in the Simi Hills in eastern Ventura County, near the community of West Hills.[1][4] In 2015, egg masses from the nearby Simi Hills were introduced to two streams in the Santa Monica Mountains. Juvenile frogs were found living at the locations a year later.[5][6]

R. draytonii is a moderate to large (4.4–14 cm (1.7–5.5 in)) frog. The back is a brown, grey, olive, or reddish color, with black flecks and dark, irregular, light-centered blotches, and is coarsely granular. A dark mask with a whitish border occurs above the upper jaw, and black and red or yellow mottling is in the groin. The lower abdomen and the undersides of its hind legs are normally red. The male can be recognized by its large fore limbs, thumbs, and webbing. The juvenile frog has more pronounced dorsal spotting, and may have yellow, instead of red, markings on the undersides of the hind legs. A characteristic feature of the red-legged frog is its dorsolateral fold, visible on both sides of the frog, extending roughly from the eye to the hip. R. draytonii looks very similar to the northern red-legged frog.
Ecology and behavior

This species has disappeared from an estimated 70% of its range, and is now only found in about 256 streams or drainages in 28 counties of California.[7] However, the species is still common along the coast, and most of their population declines are in the Sierra Nevada and Southern California. The California red-legged frog is an important food source for the endangered San Francisco garter snake in San Mateo County.

Breeding occurs from November to March, or sometimes earlier toward the southern limits of its range. The male frog's advertisement call is a series of a few small grunts, usually given while swimming around under water. Choruses are weak and easily missed. This species is usually active in daylight and inhabits dense, shrubby, or emergent riparian vegetation and still or slow-moving perennial and ephemeral water bodies that also serve as breeding sites.

The tadpoles (larvae) of this species may metamorphose into frogs within about 7 months of hatching from the egg, or may overwinter, taking up to 13 months.[8] This is a recent discovery, which may have management implications for the species, particularly when aquatic habitat undergoes modification.
California red-legged frog in habitat
Egg mass

This frog is listed as threatened and is protected by federal and California law. The main cause of the population decline is habitat loss and destruction, but introduced predatory species, such as American bullfrogs, might also be a factor.


After years of litigation initiated by land developers' organizations, specifically the Home Builders Association of Northern California, and scientific back-and-forth, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced in April 2006 the designation of about 450,000 acres (1800 km2) of critical California habitat for the threatened frog. This protected habitat did not include any land in Calaveras County, the setting of Mark Twain's short story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", which features this species.


On September 17, 2008, the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to more than triple the habitat of the California red-legged frog, citing political manipulation by former Deputy Assistant Secretary Julie MacDonald at the United States Department of the Interior. According to the Los Angeles Times, "development and destruction of wetlands have eliminated the frogs from more than 70% of their historic range. MacDonald would have reduced what was left of the frog's range by 82%."[9] San Mateo County and Monterey County seem to have some of the largest healthy populations of these frogs, especially in coastal wetlands.[10][11]


In March 2010, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced 1,600,000 acres (6,500 km2) of protected land for the species throughout California, which has implications regarding development and use of such land.[1][12][13] The largest population of the frog will be given protection on a 48-acre stretch of land (19 ha) in Placer County.[14]


A new law designates the California red-legged frog the “state amphibian.” Presently, it is subject to protection under both federal and state laws passed in 1996. Although the designation as official state amphibian does not provide legal protection to the frog as a threatened species, it does highlight the importance that California places on the frog's preservation.[15]

See also

Red-legged frog
Ledson Marsh — Annadel State Park, Sonoma County
Potentilla hickmanii — Hickman's potentilla


Geoffrey Hammerson (2008). "Rana draytonii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2008: e.T136113A4240307. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T136113A4240307.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
Frost, Darrel R. (2018). "Rana draytonii Baird and Girard, 1852". Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.0. American Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
"California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii)". ECOS Environmental Conservation Online System. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Archived from the original on 2 July 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
Federal Register: "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Revised Designation of Critical Habitat for California Red-Legged Frog; Final Rule" Archived 2018-11-07 at the Wayback Machine . pg. 3 of pdf . accessed 6.16.2013
Carlson, Cheri (June 15, 2015). "Gone for decades, red-legged frogs surviving in Santa Monica Mountains". Ventura County Star. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
DWORETZKY, JOE (2019-07-25). "The threatened frogs of the Santa Monica Mountains always had it hard. The Woolsey fire made things much worse". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2019-07-25.
Recovery Plan for the California Red-legged Frog (Rana aurora draytonii) (PDF) (Report). Portland, Oregon: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2002. Retrieved 2013-04-03.
Fellers G. M.; et al. (2001). "Overwintering tadpoles in the California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii)". Herpetological Review. 32: 156–157.
Cart, J. Room to stretch a frog's red legs. Los Angeles Times September 17, 2008.
"California Red-Legged Frog". Wild Equity Institute. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
"California Red-Legged Frog" (PDF). California Department of Pesticide Regulation. 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 25, 2017. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
"Endangered California Red-Legged Frog to Receive Large New Protected Habitat Area - Finally". Latimesblogs.latimes.com. 2010-03-16. Retrieved 2014-01-26.
.PDF Maps of Northern and Southern Protected Ranges via FWS Archived May 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
Perlman, D. Red-legged frogs get 48-acre preserve in Sierra. — San Francisco Chronicle November 24, 2010.

Assembly Bill 2364 codified as Government Code §422.7. Effective January 1, 2015.
"California red-legged frog named state amphibian". KPCC. Associated Press. 7 July 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
"New California laws for 2015: Frogs, drones, Confederate flags". Los Angeles Times. 1 January 2015. Retrieved 1 January 2015.

Further reading
Hillis D.M., Wilcox T.P. (2005). "Phylogeny of the New World true frogs (Rana)" (PDF). Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 34 (2): 299–314. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2004.10.007. PMID 15619443.
Shaffer , Bradley H., Fellers Gary M., Voss S. Randal, Oliver Jeff, Pauly Greg (2004). "Species boundaries, phylogeography, and conservation genetics of the red-legged frog (Rana aurora/draytonii) complex". Molecular Ecology. 13 (9): 2667–2677. doi:10.1111/j.1365-294x.2004.02285.x. PMID 15315679. S2CID 30926564.
"A Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Coastal Southern California" — by Robert N. Fisher and Ted J. Case, USGS.
Barry Sean J., Fellers Gary M. (2013). "History and Status of the California Red-Legged Frog (Rana draytonii) in the Sierra Nevada, California, USA" (PDF). Herp. Conser. Biol. 8 (2): 456–502.

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