Photo and Commentary ©2018 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The chameleon’s fame is directly connected to its ability to change colors to fit in with its setting; so much so that we even use its name to refer to a person, such as a politician, who changes position to match his audience. While we may recognize this characteristic in some creature from some far distant jungle, did you realize we have an amphibian right in our own backyard that can do the same thing? The Pacific Chorus Frog, also known as the Pacific Tree Frog, also has the ability to change colors. But unlike the chameleon which changes to fit into its environment, the tree frog changes from green to brown based upon the brightness of the background in which it is found. This could be described as a seasonal fluctuation. The shift may be in color but it may also change from markings that are patterned to a pure color. At one time it was thought this species came in different fixed color phases, but it is now clear that some individuals have this ability to change, even though a full change may take weeks or months.

Found in coastal areas from Northern California to British Columbia, this is the most common frog in that area. It can be separated from any other frog in its range by two characteristics: it has a dark stripe running from the nostril through the eye back past the ear, and secondly, its toes are only slightly webbed but on the end of each toe is a round, sticky pad. These pads allow them to climb around on plants but they generally prefer to stay close to the ground.

Scripture speaks of change in both positive and negative terms for some change is for the best while other types reflect less than desirable ends. Towards the beginning of his book, Jeremiah bemoans the condition of his people: “Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols.” (Jeremiah 2:11 NIV) In contrast with this, 1 Samuel 15:29 speaks of God’s dependability: “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.” We, unlike the frog, have the freedom to decide what changes we need to make.