"The frog in the well knows nothing of the great ocean," Japanese proverb.
Amphibians have an intimate link to water as part of their life cycle but as adults they may be found hiding under logs or resting along the tour route of Oregon Caves.
Never have there been so many amphibian extinctions in such a short time span as today. Amphibians are an important indicator species that can help to determine the health of an ecosystem. Our lives are intertwined with these moist-skinned creatures, we breathe the same air, and drink the same water. When extinctions occur among species whose roots on this planet surpass ours by millions of years, we should be listening to what they have to say...
Found on the Monument is also the Pacific Tree Frog (Hyla regilla). It is one of the smallest but loudest amphibians of the Pacific Northwest. It can change colors to green and brown tones in a few minutes which gives it protection of camouflage.
We have Tailed Frogs (Ascaphus truei) that belongs to a primitive family of frogs that has a "tail" to internally fertilize eggs. Tailed frogs live in and near rock-strewn streams that have cold fast-flowing water.
The endangered Oregon Spotted Frog (Rana pretiosa) is found on the Monument in floodplain wetlands associated with permanent water bodies and prefers the warm, shallow edges of marshes to lay its eggs.
The Pacific Giant Salamander (Dicamptodon ensatus) is found on the Monument, and is a type of trogloxene because it uses caves during different life stages, but never spends its complete life underground. Pacific giant salamanders seek refuge in Oregon Caves during our increasingly hot, dry summers.
The Del Norte, ensatina, and clouded salamanders are in the same family, Plethodontidae. These are called lungless salamanders because they absorb oxygen through their skin rather than relying solely on lungs.
Did You Know?
The stream that comes out of the entrance of the cave is a tributary to a watershed that empties into the Pacific Ocean. There are no human-made obstructions that would prevent salmon migration, which makes this the only cave in the National Park Service with an unobstructed link to the ocean.