Can Frogs Change Color? [11 WHY’s]

While being curious about the camouflage of chameleons, frog enthusiasts wonder the same thing about frogs. Sometimes, you might be amazed to notice different shades of color on frog skin. To adapt to hostile wildlife, frogs show diverse physical traits that may leave you astonished. So, you might ask- can frogs change color?

Being masters of camouflage, frogs can change color. Almost all species of frogs change the pattern and color of their skin under various circumstances. Surviving from predation to several environmental factors like temperature, humidity, seasonal changes, breeding period, and some additional reasons are liable to the color change of frogs.

Out of curiosity, I’ve researched for a while about the camouflage of frogs. Based on this research, I’ve summed up 11 reasons why frogs change color, the tactics of this frog camouflage, and additional information. So, let’s hop into the article to know details about this topic.

Why Do Frogs Change Color: 11 Reasons

Frogs can change color for multiple reasons. These amphibians flaunt their wide range of patterns and colors in different stages and circumstances. Let’s check out all reasons why frogs may change color.

1. Life Stages

The experts distinguish frogs in two ways based on the capability of changing color. One of these is monochromatic, and the other is dichromatic. Among these two categories, dichromatic frogs can change their skin coloration at a point in their life stage.

Generally, this type of color change tends to be permanent. Such change is named morphological color change. When the dichromatic frogs change their color at a certain age of life, the entire procedure can take time from a few days to several months.

The pigmentation becomes dense in the outer layer of frogs named Chromophore. These changes last long for a lifetime from adulthood. When the pigment grain gets thick at the center of the cells, the coloration of the skin becomes lighter. So, the skin of dichromatic frogs tends to get lighter after a certain period of their life.

2. Adaptation With The Background 

Frogs tend to change their skin color adapting to the background. This trick is applied basically for their survival. In the wild, frogs tend to blend with their surroundings to save themselves from predators or catch their prey.

You might know that there are mainly four types of frogs. These are terrestrial frogs, aquatic frogs, semi-aquatic, and arboreal frogs. Each type of frog tries to adapt to its surroundings.

Semi-aquatic Frogs

Among semi-aquatic frogs, you can notice a similar appearance matched to their environment. You can take the example of mossy frogs. These frogs change their skin color as these amphibians grow old.

When mossy frogs are turning into adults, the coloration of their skin change into brown and maroon. The shade of the skin coloration becomes faded. This entire change is matched with the moss.

Terrestrial Frogs

Besides, the blotchy and bumpy skin of American bullfrogs helps them camouflage with the marshy environment. Such terrestrial frogs become the best camouflaged when these frogs remain immobile.

Arboreal Frogs

In the case of arboreal frogs, maximum color-changing cases are seen among tree frogs. An experiment is found where the tree frog changed its coloration quickly from green to brown while shifting the frog in a brown tree trunk.

Aquatic Frogs

Let’s not forget about the camouflage of aquatic frogs too. In the case of African clawed frogs, their greyish-green skin coloration helps these frogs adapt to their habitation occupied with algae, mud, etc.

3. Thermoregulation Process

You must be aware of the fact that frogs are ectothermic. As a result, their body temperature relies on the heat of the environment. Hence, frogs change color to cope with the extreme temperature of the environment.

In this thermoregulation process, the frogs make their coloration shade lighter or darker. You might know that the dark color absorbs the lighting.

So, the absorption of heat will be more when frogs turn their shades darker. It happens when the temperature gets colder.

In the same way, frogs can change the shade of their coloration to lighter. As lighter coloration can reflect lighting, the frogs do not get stressed in overheating. Frogs use this tactic when the temperature rises too much. 

From an experiment, the researchers found out how several species of European tree frogs change their color from morning to night. These frogs remain dark grey in the morning.

In the evening, the shade of these tree frogs turns light grey. Again, they return to their dark grey coloration after the sun sets. This experiment shows us how the temperature affects the color-changing process of frogs.

If you want to keep tree frogs as pets, you can go through this article: how to pet tree frogs safely?

4. Humidity Of The Environment 

Frogs can change color due to the incoordination of the humidity level. When the moisture of the humidity is too high or low than the ideal level, frogs tend to get stressed. It affects the coloration of their skin.

Usually, the toads become slightly black when the humidity is too high. It happens due to the falling body temperature.

If you have pet frogs, you can readily notice the changes in coloration depending on the moisture level of the tank. For example- the green stripes of Pacman frogs become brownish when the humidity level gets lower.

Take a look at this article to identify the 12 most popular Pacman frog morphs with pictures.

5. Emotional Responses

Several experiments proved that frogs change color under emotional responses. The pigmentation of chromatophores in frogs has direct effects due to stress, anxiety, or excitement. Also, the experts found that the aggregation of melanin increases or decreases in such conditions.

When frogs have anxiety or fear of something, these amphibians turn pale. You might have noticed your pet frogs change their dorsal skin color due to excessive handling.

After all, such excessive handling can cause frogs stressed. Some frogs become dark when they’re disturbed. Such as African clawed frogs.

If you’re a beginner, you should know about dos and don’ts for handling pet frogs. For this, check out this article.

6. Predation Pressure

Frogs have such unique capability to change their color to escape from predation. For this, these amphibians take the help of countershading.

Depending on the surroundings of the habitation, frogs can change their color to blend with the environment. In the case of terrestrial frogs, the frogs may have brown or grey coloration that helps them hide in the soil of the murky forest.

To avoid predation pressure, you may notice toads being brown on brown soil. Depending on the coloration of tree bark, White’s tree frog can change the shade or coloration of their skin.

In the rain forest, you’ll notice frogs having bottled green tops so that they can escape from the predation of birds or other animals. On the other hand, the aquatic frogs change the color of the bottom into a lighter shade. This change helps them go unnoticed by the predators.

7. The Brightness of UV light

Like temperature, the brightness of lighting can cause changes in coloration in frogs. Such climatic variable affects the melanin of the outer layer of frogs’ skin.

You may see the pale green coloration with red dots on the back of South American polka dot tree frogs. When these frogs go under ultraviolet light, their skin coloration of these frogs turns neon green.

8. Breeding

During the mating session, male frogs tend to change their skin color to attract females. The shade of coloration becomes darker while breeding. The purpose of such a change is to look for their mating partner.

Moreover, it’ll flaunt the female frogs that these frogs are male. It can be a signal that these frogs are mature and ready to mate.

However, the nonpoisonous frogs tend to return to their paler color after this breeding season. After all, bright skin color can readily catch the attention of predators.

9. Seasonal Changes

There are several records of tree frogs changing color seasonally. In autumn, the color of green tree frogs turns to get browner. The skin coloration of frogs gets changed seasonally so that they can blend with the environment.

10. Intra-sexual Communication Between Males

Although the changes in coloration in the breeding season refer to the purpose of attracting a mating partner. But, another secondary goal for this is to communicate with other male frogs. You may say that male frogs change color for intra-sexual communication with males.

11. Diseases

Not all reasons for the color changes of frogs are camouflage. Sometimes, discoloration or color changes are prominent signs of diseases.

For example- the skin of the legs of ill frogs can turn reddish due to red leg syndrome. Sometimes, there appear red blotches in several diseases. The sick frog may turn paler too.

Hence, you should take your pet frogs to a vet when you notice such a sudden change of coloration. You can go through this article if your tree frog is sick.

What Kind Of Frog Changes Color?

Several species of frogs can be enlisted in the list of those frogs that change color. Although frogs do not change color rapidly like a chameleon, they take time to make their temporary change in coloration. After a certain period, these frogs may go back to normal color.

Almost all types of tree frogs have the popularity of changing their skin coloration dramatically. If you are curious about different types of tree frogs, you should have a look into this article about 10 tree frogs identification with pictures.

Besides, some other species can change their color temporarily. Such as African clawed frogs, American bullfrogs, spring pepper, White tree frog, etc.

Do Toads Change Colors?

Although scientists consider frogs and toads different, toads can also change color like frogs. The reasons for changing color can be diverse. Such as stress, escape from predation, environmental factors, mating season, and so on.

Do Frogs Change Color When Stressed?

The answer is yes! Frogs can respond to stress by changing their coloration. Several frogs tend to become darken when they become stressed. It can happen not only in the wild but also in captivity.

Why Is My Tree Frog Turning Blue?

It is a rare case where the yellow pigment doesn’t remain present in green tree frogs. Generally, the green colorations flaunt due to the composition of green pigments with grey cells. The researchers found only 1-2% of green tree frogs turn blue due to a lack of yellow pigmentation.

What Does It Mean When A Frog Gets Darker?

It can be the underlying reason for various factors. When the body temperature of frogs gets lower, the frogs may get darker. So, the reason can be lower temperature or high humidity.

Besides, frogs get darker when they feel anxiety or stress. Some researches show the occurrence of such a condition when the frog does not get exposed much to the sunlight.

Why Do Green Frogs Change Color?

There are lots of examples where green tree frogs turn brown. It occurs mainly due to the shuffle of environmental factors like humidity, temperature, lighting, etc.

Green tree frogs turn brown when there’s much moisture in the environment. Besides, these green tree frogs change color into brown when they’re under stress.

Why Do Frogs Turn Red?

Usually, it’s pretty rare to find red frogs. Frogs change their color to match the environment. Although the male frogs change their skin coloration in the breeding season, the female frogs can turn pinky-red color in the same period.

Another reason can be the red-leg syndrome of the frogs. This bacterial infection affects both legs of the frogs. So, the legs of those frogs turn red.

Final Words

Not to mention, the camouflage of frogs is another wonder of nature. I hope this article helped you understand the reasons for frogs’ changing color, the types of frog camouflage, and how the process happens.

Muntaseer Rahman

I have been keeping shrimps as a pet for many years now. I’ve fallen in love with these cute pets from the moment I saw them. That’s why I am writing articles to share my shrimp keeping knowledge with you.

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