What Is The California State Amphibian?

The California red-legged frog is found in 28 counties of California.
The California red-legged frog is found in 28 counties of California.

The state of California is in the Pacific area of the United States. California is the third biggest American state by area. California is the most populous state in the U.S. with over 39.6million residents and an area of about 163,696sq miles. The official California state amphibian is the Rana draytonii (California red-legged frog).

California Red-legged Frog

The California red-legged frog is a moderate to large frog species which can attain a maximum length of about 5.5 inches. The back of these frogs is reddish, olive, gray, or brown with black flecks and irregular, dark, light-centered blotches. The underside of the hind legs and lower abdomen are red. The male is known by their webbing, thumbs, and large forelimbs. Juvenile frogs have yellow markings on their hind legs instead of red. The most characteristic feature of this frog is the dorsolateral fold that is visible from either side. The California red-legged frog resembles the northern red-legged frog.


These frogs can be found in the northern parts of Baja California in Mexico and California. These frogs are commonly found along the southern and northern Coast Ranges and in various isolated regions on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The southernmost California red-legged frog population can be found in Simi Hills (East Ventura County) and Santa Rosa Plateau (Riverside County).

These frogs have migrated from over 70% of their original range, and currently, they are in 256 drainages or streams in 28 counties of California. The frog is quite common along the coast, but their population has declined in Southern California and the Sierra Nevada.


The breeding season of the red-legged frogs begins in November and ends in March. The advertisement calls of the male are a series of small grunts while they are swimming. They are quite active during the day and can inhabit emergent or shrubby riparian vegetation. The larvae metamorphose into frogs within seven months after beings hatched, but in winter the metamorphosis process can last for up to 13 months.

Designating the California State Amphibian

Virginia Haddad, a third-grade teacher at Sea View Elementary School, and the students of the Prodigy Cats Club initiated the idea of an official California state amphibian. After Virginia suggested the idea of a state amphibian, the students began a project to make the Rana draytonii the state’s official amphibian. The students sent letters to Manuel Perez, the Assemblyman of Coachella in 2013 and he agreed to sponsor the bill in the state legislature. Perez introduced the bill to the general assembly on February 24, 2014. The bill was approved by the general assembly on April 24, 2014, and forwarded to the Senate where it was passed on June 19, 2014. Governor Brown Jerry signed the bill on June 28, 2014.



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