Blue is the new green. At least it is for one young amphibian fan named Jesse, who was thrilled last summer to discover a blue frog at his family’s cottage near Sudbury, Ont. “He made a big production out of it, running up to the camp to show off his catch,” says mom Chantel Chamberland.
Stephen Hecnar, a herpetologist at Lakehead University, says Jesse’s find is a green frog, but one missing the yellow pigment that makes its typical hue. Blue versions are “quite rare,” he says, “and rarer even than other colour aberrations such as albinos or yellow-coloured frogs.”
Hecnar is leading a project to track this genetic variation—technically called axanthism—across the range of the green frog, from the eastern U.S. into southeastern Canada. “The blue trait seems to be more frequent towards the north and east of the range,” he says. “So more of a Canadian than an American characteristic. But even in Canada, it appears to be more common in the Maritimes than in Ontario and Quebec.”
If you find an elusive blue frog (or any frog), Hecnar says it’s best to “observe rather than capture,” though he does acknowledge that “many young people learn about nature by capturing frogs, turtles, and snakes.”
The Chamberlands let their beauty go, but not before Jesse gave it a name—Bluey, of course.