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Chorus frogs (Pseudacris triseriata) are usually the first amphibians to appear in spring, making loud choruses even when it is still snowing in March and April. Their loud call is similar to running a finger over the hard teeth of a comb - unexpected from a creature that is only about 1 inch (2.5cm) long when fully grown. In the park, their color varies quite a bit, from greyish brown to beige to green. Most individuals have a striped pattern on their back. Like tiger salamanders, chorus frogs have been found at high elevations in Colorado, and have the same ability to completely freeze during winter then thaw out back to activity in spring.
Photo of Dark Green Chorus Frog with Stripes, Twin Lakes, Great Sand Dunes National Park, 2010 (NPS/Patrick Myers)
Northern Leopard Frogs (Rana pipiens)have declined in population over much of North America, with possible causes under investigation by biologists. Some leopard frogs are found in the wetlands of Great Sand Dunes National Park, though they are not common here.
Because of their declining numbers, they are currently listed as a Species of Special Concern by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
NPS/Patrick Myers 2010
Woodhouse's toads (Bufo woodhousii) are the largest toad at Great Sand Dunes, sometimes growing over 4" (10cm) in length. They are occasionally seen on wet nights near the dunes parking area, but are more commonly found in somewhat remote wetlands west of the dunefield.
While most Woodhouse's toads in the park are a brown-grey color, a few individuals found in open, sandy habitats have a distinctive mottled sand-camouflage color. (Photo taken east of Cotton Lake, 2010, NPS/Patrick Myers).
Did You Know?
Medano Creek, flowing at the base of Great Sand Dunes, is one of the few and best places in the world to experience "surge flow", where creek water comes in rhythmic waves. More...