Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa)

Close up of an adult Oregon spotted frog
An adult Oregon spotted frog (William Leonard)
An adult Oregon spotted frog in a marsh
An adult Oregon spotted frog in a marsh. (Teal Waterstrat - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Pacific Region)
Category: Amphibians
Ecosystems: Riparian areas
State status: Endangered
Federal status: Threatened
Vulnerability to climate change (More details)


If you see this species, please share your observation using the WDFW wildlife reporting form. Providing detailed information such as a photo and exact coordinates will improve the confidence and value of this observation to WDFW species conservation and management.

Photo submission: it is helpful to include photos of the topside, underside, and sideview with legs extended to show the groin, plus the frog’s face and hind foot webbing.

The Washington state status of this frog is based on the rarity of the species. Human-caused stressors include wetland loss and alteration, loss of disturbance processes that set back succession, introduction of non-native/invasive flora and fauna and alteration of creek and river channels. 

Only six watersheds are currently known to be occupied in Washington. Within a watershed, most breeding populations are small and many are isolated from other breeding populations. They require breeding sites in shallow water with short vegetation and full sun exposure. This habitat type is rapidly lost to invasive grasses without management such as grazing, haying, mowing or restoration to native flora.

Description and Range

Physical description

The Oregon spotted frog is a medium to large aquatic frog (adults are 2 to 4 inches in length from snout to vent). The dorsal color is olive brown to brick red, with black spots. See the Washington Herp Atlas for more details about this species, including description of tadpoles.

Ecology and life history

This species is highly aquatic and rarely found away from water.  Extant populations occur in large shallow wetland systems associated with a stream or stream network. Breeding habitat is in seasonally flooded margins of wetlands and areas of extensive shallows (approximately 6 to 8 inches deep). 

An Oregon spotted frog floating just below the water
Brome McCreary - US Geological Survey

Waters that remain aerobic and do not freeze to the sediments are necessary for winter survival in areas subject to freezing. Beaver impounded systems appear to provide many of the habitat requirements of this species. Radio-telemetry and mark-recapture studies have revealed that Oregon spotted frogs are relatively sedentary during the summer (driest period) and remain active underwater during the winter.

Oregon spotted frogs eat mostly insects. Tadpoles eat algae and detritus (organic material) in the aquatic environment.  

These frogs are communal breeders that return to the same breeding areas each year. They require breeding sites in shallow water with short vegetation and full sun exposure. Breeding occurs in February and March, and times can differ depending on location, elevation, and water temperatures. Egg masses are placed in areas where they receive little or no shading from vegetation. Embryos take approximately three weeks to develop to hatching. Tadpoles transform in mid-summer of their first year.

Close up of a hand holding jellylike egg mass of the Oregon spotted frog
A biologist holds the jellylike egg mass of an Oregon spotted frog. Taylor Goforth - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Pacific Region

Oregon spotted frogs are preyed upon my many predators that live in wetlands, such as great blue herons and mink. Of particular concern are non-native predators such as American bullfrogs and warm-water game fish.  

Geographic range

The historical range for Oregon spotted frogs in Washington is the Puget Trough Ecoregion, in Whatcom, Skagit, and Thurston counties, and the southern extent of the Eastern Cascades Ecoregion, in Skamania and Klickitat counties.

Current occurrences are in the following watersheds: Sumas River, South Fork Nooksack River, Samish River, upper Black River, lower Trout Lake Creek and at Conboy Lake and Camas Prairie in the Outlet Creek drainage.

A map illustrating the known distribution of the northern leopard frog in Washington is in the Washington Herp Atlas. For maps of range-wide distribution and conservation status of this species, check out NatureServe Explorer and the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.

Climate vulnerability

Sensitivity to climate change


Very limited information is available regarding the sensitivity of the Oregon spotted frog to climate change. Its main sensitivity is likely to be due to changes in pond and wetland habitat. This species is a warmer water marsh specialist that prefers shallow water ponds and vegetated pools connected to permanent water for breeding and tadpole development. Potential warmer and drier conditions could lead to alterations in or disappearance of shallow ponds and changes in vegetation, which could impact breeding and tadpole survival. In particular, it is likely to seasonally concentrate predators to a greater extent, and if those predators are warmwater exotics, it will increase the likelihood of predation on Oregon spotted frog life stages. Additionally, warmer temperatures could lead to increases in invasive warm water predators that prey upon Oregon spotted frogs, like bullfrogs and some invasive fish species, thus leading to potential population declines. Warmer temperature will also increase the active season for bullfrogs, which will reduce the time bullfrogs require to reach large body sizes, a situation that currently limits them somewhat in most areas of the Pacific Northwest. Increase bullfrog body size is likely to put the entire size distribution of post-metamorphic Oregon spotted frogs at risk.

Confidence: Moderate

Exposure to climate change


  • Increased temperatures
  • Changes in precipitation
  • Altered hydrology >Increased temperature result in greater ecological release of exotics
Confidence: Moderate


This species is identified as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) under the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). SGCN-classified species include both those with and without legal protection status under the Federal or State Endangered Species programs, as well as game species with low populations. The WDFW SWAP is part of a nationwide effort by all 50 states and five U.S. territories to develop conservation action plans for fish, wildlife and their natural habitats—identifying opportunities for species' recovery before they are imperiled and more limited.
This species is identified as a Priority Species under WDFW's Priority Habitat and Species Program. Priority species require protective measures for their survival due to their population status, sensitivity to habitat alteration, and/or recreational, commercial, or tribal importance. The PHS program is the agency's main means of sharing fish and wildlife information with local governments, landowners, and others who use it to protect priority habitats for land use planning.

Conservation Threats and Actions Needed

  • Resource information collection needs
    • Threat: Lack of information on status and distribution.
    • Action Needed: Inventory areas that might still support this species and monitor known populations.
  • Invasive and other problematic species  
    • Threat: Invasive reed canarygrass. Oregon spotted frog oviposition habitat is located in seasonally flooded, shallow water (less than 6 inches), with short vegetation and full sun exposure. Reed canarygrass is invasive, has a dense growth, pattern and grows to over 5 feet tall.
    • Action Needed: Manage reed canarygrass either by keeping it short (mowing, haying, livestock grazing) or remove it.
    • Threat: Lack of disturbance to wetlands. Oregon spotted frog oviposition habitat is located in seasonally flooded, shallow water (less than 6 inches), with short vegetation and full sun exposure. This is typical of early successional wetland plant growth.
    • Action Needed: Create or mimic disturbance processes at sites occupied by Oregon spotted frogs. Examples include introducing beaver, use of fire, mowing, haying and/or grazing.  
    • Threat: Non-native predatory fish and American bullfrogs. These species prey on Oregon spotted frogs.  
    • Action Needed: Prevent non-native predatory fish and American bullfrogs from establishing populations at Oregon spotted frog occupied sites.  
  • Climate change and severe weather (See the Climate vulnerability section for more details about the threats that climate change pose to this species)
    • Threat: Drying of aquatic habitats occupied by Oregon spotted frog and subsequent changes to vegetation (expansion of trees, shrubs, and reed canarygrass, etc.).  
    • Action Needed: Prevent drying of wetlands and streams occupied b Oregon spotted frogs. Remove and manage trees, shrubs, and reed canarygrass in breeding habitat.
Closeup of an Oregon spotted frog peering just above the water's surface
Andy O'Connell

Our Conservation Efforts

Protecting the Oregon Spotted Frog in Washington

The WDFW partners with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Washington Department of Natural Resources to protect the Oregon spotted frog in Washington. Watch this video to learn about various  conservation efforts aimed at saving this species. See biologists conduct frog egg mass counts to get an idea of the number of breeding adults at a location and to better understand habitat use. Learn why habitat restoration for this species is important not only on public lands but on private lands, too, with the cooperation of private landowners who actively manage their property to help preserve this rare frog. 

If you are a landowner with property in Clark, Pierce, King, Klickitat, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston or Whatcom County and want to help with frog recovery efforts, please contact us: (360) 902-2515 or email: wildthing@dfw.wa.gov, and ask about cooperative conservation programs that provide incentives to private landowners. Find more information in this downloadable brochure: Oregon Spotted Frogs Need Your Help.

Living with wildlife

Learn about living with frogs. Understanding wildlife is key to reducing human/wildlife conflicts. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife offers a wide range of information designed to minimize conflicts between humans and wildlife, as well as attracting beneficial wildlife and helping residents better understand the animals in their backyards.