I was out for a nature walk along one of the maintenance roads near Tuff Pond at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. As I often do, I brought my camera along to photograph some of the amazing wildlife found in this area. I got some great shots of birds, insects, and of course, frogs. American Green Tree Frogs are abundant here, and I snapped some photos of several I spotted on reeds and grasses near the edge of the water.
However, one frog caught my attention more than the others. At first glance, it looked like a typical Green Tree Frog. But on closer inspection, I noticed it had an unusually long tail! Tadpoles have tails that they eventually lose as they mature into adult frogs. So it was very odd to see what looked like a fully developed, mature frog with a prominent tail.
When I got home, I did some research to try to figure out what was going on with this particular frog. But I couldn’t find much information about adult frogs retaining tails or growing abnormal elongated tails. One key function of the tadpole tail is to aid in swimming, so perhaps there is some evolutionary advantage for this frog to maintain a tail for movement in its wetland habitat. Or it could simply be some kind of genetic anomaly.
Whatever the cause, this long-tailed frog was a curious find! As a wildlife photographer, I love encountering something unusual that captures my interest. Every animal is a unique individual with its own traits. Getting to observe and document one-of-a-kind phenomena like this in nature is what makes wandering through wilderness areas camera in hand so rewarding. I’ll be keeping an eye out on my next visit to see if I spot any other long-tailed Green Tree Frogs at Tuff Pond! Let me know in the comments if you’ve seen anything like this before in your own wildlife explorations.
Update: I returned to the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge the day after finding the first long-tailed Green Tree Frog and came across another one! This time the tail was much smaller and looked more normal, which makes me think the elongated tail on the initial frog may have just been an unusual anomaly. I was able to get a photo of this second frog showing the small tail. It’s fascinating to observe the diversity and variations among individuals within a species in the wild. Even though most Green Tree Frogs do reabsorb their tails as tadpoles, it seems some may retain a bit of one as they mature. I’ll have to keep surveying the wetlands to see if I can find any more long-tailed specimens! Let me know in the comments if anyone has theories on why some frogs develop longer tails than others.
Steve Creek, Wildlife Photographer
- Camera: Canon EOS R5
- Lens: Canon RF 100-500 mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM
- Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
- Date and Time Taken: August 15, 2023 (09:41A. M.)
- Program Mode: Manual
- Aperture: f8
- Shutter speed: 1/640
- ISO: 6400 (Auto)
- Exp. Comp.: +0.7
- Focal Length: 500 mm