Ornate Chorus Frog (Pseudacris ornata)

Photos by Amanda Hurst unless otherwise noted

Description: Ornate Chorus Frogs are small frogs 1 – 1.5 in (2.5-3.2 cm) with small round toe tips. They are among the most colorful of the frogs in our region and come in gray, green, and reddish-brown color phases. They have a black mask-like stripe across their eye, distinguishing them from other small frogs in our region, and additional dark markings on their sides and groin. This species can also have yellow on the groin along with small yellow spots on the insides of their legs.

Range and Habitat: Upland Chorus Frogs are found throughout the eastern US, but are primarily restricted to the Piedmont. Although this species is generally replaced by P. nigrita in the Coastal Plain, there are a few isolated P. feriarum populations in the South Carolina Coastal Plain. They are found in grassy areas, woodlands, wetlands, and bogs. Ornate chorus frogs are found only in the Coastal Plain of the Southeastern U.S. and are absent from southern peninsular Florida. They can be found in a variety of wooded habitats but are most common in xeric upland habitats such as Sandhills and pine flatwoods. They breed in small bodies of temporary water (e.g., cypress ponds, ditches, flooded meadows, and Carolina Bays), and are particularly found of open grassy fishless wetlands. This species is secretive and is rarely seen outside of its winter breeding season.

Habits: The Ornate chorus frog is nocturnal and is most often seen on rainy winter nights. Breeding occurs from November to March, generally earlier than spring peepers. Males call from grassy wetlands and females deposit 10-100 eggs in shallow water attached to vegetation. Hatching takes place in 1-2 weeks and is temperature dependent. Metamorphosis occurs in 2-3 months and metamorphs are nearly adult size when the leave wetlands.

Call: The call of the Ornate Chorus Frog is a sharp, metallic “tink,” often repeated in succession.

Conservation Status: These frogs are considered common and are not protected in our region. Ornate chorus frogs do not have state, federal, or heritage ranking and are not uncommon. As with many amphibians, issues of concern include environmental pollution, disease, and most significantly, habitat destruction and fragmentation.

Pertinent References:
Caldwell, J. 1987. Demography and life history of two species of chorus frogs (Anura: Hylidae) in South Carolina. Copeia 1987(1): 114-127.

Pechmann, J. K. and R. D. Semlitsch. 1986. Diel activity patterns in the breeding migrations of winter-breeding anurans. Canadian Journal of Zoology 64: 1116-1120.

Account Author: Kimberly Andrews, University of Georgia – edited by J.D. Willson