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Rio Grande Leopard Frog (Rana berlandieri)

photo by William Flaxington

Common Name: Rio Grande Leopard Frog or the Mexican Leopard Frog
Scientific Name: Rana berlandieri
Family: Ranidae – True Frog family
Locations: Belize, Mexico, Nicaragua, and the United States
US Locations: New Mexico, and Texas
Introduced Locations: Arizona and California
Size: 2.2 – 4.4 inches (56 – 112 mm)

The Rio Grande Leopard Frog is a semi aquatic species of frog, often found along the edges of water bodies. They range in color from green, brown, and olive. Breeding can happen year round for the frogs in the warmer areas, but mostly in spring and then late summer / fall. The males of the species will call from the shoreline to attract the females. Once the female selects a mate, the two will embrace in the amplexus position and mate. Females lay between 500 to 1200 eggs.

The Rio Grande Leopard Frog has been accidentally introduced to the area around the California / Arizona border due to stocking of game fish. The tadpoles could have hid into the fish that gets dumped. The introduced frogs have been found with diseases such as Red Leg and Chytrid Fungus that could be introduced into native populations of frogs, and then potentially causing mass die offs. The frog is thought to have caused declines of the Lowland Leopard Frog in southeastern California.

The species epithet – berlandieri is in honor of Jean-Louis Berlandier, a naturalist who was part of one of the first biological surveys of Texas for the Mexico government.

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Frog of the Week

Canyon Tree Frog (Hyla arenicolor)

photo by Zion National Park

Common Name: Canyon Tree Frog
Scientific Name: Hyla arenicolor
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: United States and Mexico
US Locations: Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Utah
Size: 1.25 – 2.25 inches (32-57 mm)

The Canyon Tree Frog is an arboreal frog found on boulders and rocks near streams not in the trees like most tree frogs are. They range in color from tan to gray to dark olive and try to blend in with rocks that they sit on to avoid predators. The frogs are inactive during the day but during the night, they will hunt for prey such as insects. During the hot summer days, they will hide in rock crevices to escape the heat.

The Canyon Tree Frog mates during late spring and summer. Males can be distinguished from females due to their darker throats. The males of the species will call from the edges of streams to attract the females. Once the female comes and selects a mate, they will embrace in the amplexus pose. Female can lay more than 100 eggs at a time. The tadpoles take only two months to complete their metamorphism where they will leave the water and ascend the rocks.

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Outdoor Cats: A Threat to Wildlife

Do you let your cat roam around your property? Well your cat could be killing beautiful wildlife at alarming rates. It is estimated that free roaming cats kill 1.3–4.0 billion birds and 6.3–22.3 billion mammals annually. That’s a crap ton of animals.

The best way to help protect wildlife is to keep your cats indoors. It’s safer for both the cat and the wildlife. If you aren’t gonna listen about keeping them inside, there are some alternatives that you can do that won’t be as effective but will help. Spaying and neutering your cats will help reduce the chances of breeding with wild cats, thus helping keep their populations down.

Bird Be Safe Collar

There are certain collars that have been made to make your cat more visible, allowing animals to see them and escape from their attacks. https://www.birdsbesafe.com/ makes some wonderful, colorful collars to help.

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Vampire Flying Frog (Rhacophorus vampyrus)

photo by Jodi Rowley
Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Vampire Flying Frog or Vampire Tree Frog
Scientific Name: Rhacophorus vampyrus
Family: Rhacophoridae – Asian Tree Frog family
Locations: Vietnam
Female Size: 1.53 – 2.1 inches (38.9 – 53.4 mm)
Male Size: 1.67 – 1.76 inches (42.5 – 44.8 mm)

The Vampire Flying Frog is named after the mouth parts in the tadpole that resemble fangs or hooks, not because they feed on the blood of the living. However, these tadpoles do eat unhatched eggs and unfertilized eggs that the mother lays. They are also similar to vampires in that they can fly (well glide) from tree to tree, thanks to their highly webbed fingers.

The frogs breed during the rainy season in Vietnam, between May and July. The pair of frogs breed in hallowed out trees and form a foam nest that keeps the eggs from drying out.

They are a relatively new species to science, only being described by the amazing Dr. Jodi Rowley in 2010.

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Little Devil Poison Dart Frog (Oophaga sylvatica)

photo by Juan C. Santos

Common Name: Little Devil Poison Dart Frog or the Diablito
Scientific Name: Oophaga sylvatica
Family: Dendrobatidae – Poison Dart Frog family
Locations: Colombia and Ecuador
Size: 1 – 1.5 inches (26-38 mm)

The Little Devil Poison Dart Frog is a diurnal (active during the day) species of frogs. They are able to move about the forest floor due to their bright coloration that warns predators that they are poisonous. They obtain their poisons from the alkaloid chemicals in the prey, which is primarily ants and mites.

The Little Devil Poison Dart Frog breeds all year long. The males will establish territories and will guard them from other males. Once a female selects a mate, the male will lead her to a suitable breeding location. Interesting for frogs, there is no amplexus in the species. The males will deposit their sperm on the ground or in a water bodied. Then the females will lay their eggs. After mating, the male will guard the eggs until they hatch. After the eggs hatch, the female will move each individual tadpole to its own pool. The female frog will provide further care for the tadpoles by laying unfertilized eggs in the pools for the tadpoles to eat.

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Southern Chorus Frog (Pseudacris nigrita)

photo by Giff Beaton

Common Name: Southern Chorus Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudacris nigrita
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: United States – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia
Size: 0.75 to 1.25 inches

The Southern Chorus Frog is one of the many chorus frogs that call the southern US home. They vary from gray to tan in color. They have three dark stripes down their back and one that runs through the eye down the side. Their lifespan isn’t long, only living two to three years. Like all the chorus frogs, the Southern Chorus Frog is more of a terrestrial species of tree frog, spending their time on ground.

The Southern Chorus Frog breeds in the winter from November to April or possibly year round in southern Florida. They breed in shallow, temporary bodies of water such as ponds, ditches, and flooded fields. The male frogs will call from vegetation around these areas and then the females will select their mate. They will then mate and lay their eggs in the shallow water on steams or leaves. The eggs hatch a few days after being laid then the tadpoles take a month to four months to complete their metamorphosis.

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Pleasing Poison Dart Frog (Ameerega bassleri)

photo by John P. Clare

Common Name: Pleasing Poison Dart Frog
Scientific Name: Ameerega bassleri
Family: Dendrobatidae – Poison Dart Frog family
Locations: Peru
Size: 1,6 inches (42 mm)

The Pleasing Poison Dart Frog gets its name from the beautiful colors on their body. These colors alert predators that they are poisonous. There are three known different color morphs of the frog.

The Yellow and Black morph is pictured at the top. They are found in the mountains southwest of Tarapoto.

The Nominal or Tarapoto Morph is the yellow morph shown below. They are found in the Cordillera Oriental and Cordillera Azul near Tarapoto. This color morph is the most commonly found morph.

photo by Geoff Gallice

The last morph is the Chrome Green morph. They are very few of this morph left in the wild due to the habitat destruction.

The Pleasing Poison Dart Frog is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list. Sadly, most of the frogs habitat has been converted into cattle pastures, coffee plantations, and palm plantations which aren’t suitable habitat for the frogs.

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Salamanders and Newts of Iowa

Ambystomatidae – Mole Salamander Family

Blue Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale)

The Blue Spotted Salamander has noticeable blue spots but the Smallmouthed Salamander can have them too. It is listed as an endangered species in the state, only being found in two counties – Black Hawk and Linn.

Smallmouthed Salamander  (Ambystoma texanum)

The Smallmouthed Salamander is known for their tiny heads that seem too small for their body. They are found in the southern part of the state.

Eastern Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum)

The Eastern Tiger Salamander is the largest of the terrestrial salamanders in the state. They can have yellow spots or no spots at all. There are records of them throughout the state but most recent records show them mostly in the northeast part of the state.

Proteidae

The Mudpuppy is a fully aquatic species of salamander. They retain their gills throughout their life. They are found in the northeast and southeast corners of the state. The Mudpuppy is listed as threatened in the state.

Salamandridae

Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)

The Eastern Newt has 3 distinct life stages. There is an aquatic larval stage, a terrestrial eft stage, and an aquatic adult stage. It is found in the eastern half of the state. They are listed as threatened by the state.