Made Famous by Twain, Now Official California Amphibian

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California red-legged frog, official State Amphibian. Photo by David Hacker, CDFW.


California now has an official state amphibian. First mentioned by Mark Twain, the amphibian now has extra protection under its new designation.

One of the laws Governor Jerry Brown signed at the end of last month creates the red-legged frog as the official state amphibian. The bill originated with third-grade students in Salton City, in Imperial County.

They wrote a letter asking for the animal’s designation to Assemblyman Manuel Perez.


California red-legged frog, official State Amphibian. Photo by David Hacker, CDFW.

The red-legged frog makes its home in various aquatic habitats ranging from sea level to 5,000 feet in elevation, ranging from southern Mendocino County down south to Los Angeles County. The frog has also been spotted in isolated areas in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The red-legged frog is the same frog that Mark Twain wrote about in his story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” in 1865. The amphibians were plentiful until the 1849 Gold Rush, when the rapidly increasing human population had a taste for frog legs. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, vendors at the time introduced the non-native bullfrog to replace the dwindling red-legged frog population.

The department says they have worked for many years to conserve and restore the populations of this California frog.

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