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Sonoran Green Toad (Anaxyrus retiformis)

photo by William Flaxington

Common Name: Sonoran Green Toad, Pima Green Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus retiformis
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad Family
Locations: Mexico and the United States
US Locations: Arizona
Size: 1.5 – 2 inches (40 – 49 mm)

The Sonoran Green Toad is known for their yellow / green spots on the dark black background. The toad has lived over 15 years in captivity, which is relatively long for a toad. They are a highly fossorial frog, spending most of their days underground.

Once the summer rains come, the male Sonoran Green Toad comes to temporary filled pools to breed. The males will start to call from grass surrounding the pools to attract females. They are known as explosive breeders due to them only mating for a few days compared to weeks like other frogs. The females will carry the male from the grasses to the water where the females will lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The two toads will then part ways and provide no care for the offspring. Females will lay between 5 to 200 eggs. The eggs will hatch into tadpoles in 2 – 3 days. Then, the tadpoles take 2 to 3 weeks to complete their metamorphosis.

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Oregon Spotted Frog (Rana pretiosa)

photo by William Flaxington

Common Name: Oregon Spotted Frog
Scientific Name: Rana pretiosa
Family: Ranidae – True Frog family
Locations: United States and Canada
US Locations: California, Oregon, and Washington
Size: 1.75 – 4 inches (4.4 – 10.1 cm)

The Oregon Spotted Frog is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List and as threatened by the United States federal government. The frogs are most likely are gone from California. The two primary threats are introduced species and habitat destruction / alteration. Much of the wetlands that they call home have damaged due to construction of dams and water removal for farms and cities. Some of the remaining habitat has been invaded by the American Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) or introduced game fishes. These introduced predators feast on the Oregon Spotted Frog and their tadpoles. Removing these predators would help the frog’s numbers bounce back.

photo by USFWS

Breeding takes place after the snow melts, generally in February and March at low elevations and May and June at higher elevations. Breeding only lasts 2 to 4 weeks long. Males will gather in the shallows of marshes and lakes at call for the females. Females will select a male to mate. They will then enter the amplexus position and the females will lay their eggs and the male will fertilize. Females lay around 650 eggs. The eggs hatch into tadpoles between 18 and 30 days. The tadpoles then take 110 to 130 days to complete their metamorphosis.

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Little Grass Frog (Pseudacris ocularis)

photo by Todd Pierson

Common Name: Little Grass Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudacris ocularis
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: United States – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia
Size: .4 – .7 inches (11 – 20 mm)

The Little Grass Frog is the smallest frog in all of North America. While it is technically in the Tree Frog family – Hylidae, they are not as arboreal as other species of tree frogs. They can still climb up to 5 feet high.

Breeding takes place for the Little Grass Frog from January to September in most of their range but in Florida, they can breed all year long. Breeding generally follows heavy rain events. They lay their eggs in shallow, rain-filled wetlands, ditches, and ponds. Reproduction is pretty standard for the frog. Males will call out from the rain-filled areas, trying to attract females. Females will select a male and then they will mate. The females lay around 100 eggs. How do these females carry all those eggs at their small size? I don’t know. Neither of the parents will perform any care for their offspring.

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European Green Toad (Bufotes viridis)

euro_green_toad.jpg
photo by Umberto Salvagnin

Common Name: European Green Toad
Scientific Name: Bufotes viridis
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and the Ukraine
Size: 4.7 inches (120 mm)

The European Green Toad is a beautiful toad found in varies habitats throughout Europe including forests, steppes, and deserts. Like most toads, the Green Toad is mostly fossorial, spending their time burrowed underground. They are estimated to live as long as 10 years.

The European Green Toad can reproduce in a wide range of habitats, including ponds, swamps, stream pools, and lakes. Most toads and frogs can only breed in fresh water while the Green Toad can breed in fresh and brackish (slightly salty) water. The reproduction season is wide ranging from February to July depending on location. Males will call from the shallows to attract females. Males and females will pair up in amplexus position. The females will lay their eggs and males will then fertilize them. The females can live between 5,000 and 13,000 eggs.

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Bernhard’s Mantella (Mantella bernhardi)

photo by Devin Edmonds

Common Name: Bernhard’s Mantella
Scientific Name: Mantella bernhardi
Family: Mantellidae
Locations: Madagascar
Size: .75 – .86 inches (19 – 22 mm)

The Bernhard’s Mantella is the smallest of the mantellas. It is found in the rain forests along the southeastern coast of Madagascar. They are active during the wet season from December to February. This is also when they reproduce.

It is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as Vulnerable to Extinction. The main threat to the frogs is habitat loss due to timber harvesting, urban development, and farming. Better protection of the environment is needed to help protect all mantella species.

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Southern Torrent Salamander (Rhyacotriton variegatus)

Photo by James Bettaso, U.S. Fish & Wildlife service

Common Name: Southern Torrent Salamander
Scientific Name: Rhyacotriton variegatus
Family: Rhyacotritonidae – Torrent Salamander family
Locations: United States – California and Oregon
Size: Snout to Vent: 1.5 – 2.4 inches (41 – 62 mm) | Full Length: 3 – 4.5 inches ( 75 – 115 mm)

The Southern Torrent Salamander is found in and around cold, clears streams in old, growth conifer forests along the coast of Oregon and California. They have highly reduced lungs and use their skin to absorb oxygen. Cold water is high in oxygen, which makes it an ideal spot for the salamanders. The Southern Torrent Salamanders are threatened by the clear cutting of old growth forests and the draining of springs and seeps.

The reproductive season for the Southern Torrent Salamander is long, ranging from spring all the way to fall. All members of the family Rhyacotritonidae use internal fertilization. Peak egg laying time is in August and September. Only a few eggs are laid, between 4 to 16 eggs. The eggs take a long time to hatch, up to 8 months. The larval period is also long, as it can last more than 2 years.

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Australian Green Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea)

photo by Frank Teigler

Common Name: Australian Green Tree Frog, White’s Tree Frog
Scientific Name: Litoria caerulea
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: Australia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea
Introduced Location: United States – Florida
Size: 4 inches (10 cm)

The Australian Green Tree Frog is not always green but can be brown or blueish. They change their colors to match their surroundings. The tree frog is a common frog in the pet trade due to their hardiness and ease of care. They can be referred to as the White’s Tree Frog or Dumpy Tree Frog. They are named the Dumpy Frog after the fat deposits that can form on obesity frogs’ head. If taken care of, the frogs can live over 15 years long. They have a huge appetite so if housing the Australian Green Frog with other frogs, make sure they are the same size. It is believed that the pet trade introduced the species to Florida but luckily, the frogs haven’t been spotted in Florida since 2010. Please never release your pets into the wild as it can have bad consequences.

Breeding for the Australian Green Tree Frog occurs during the rainy season for November to February. Males will call to attract females. Mating is aquatic and up to 2000 are laid. No parent provides any care. The eggs hatch shortly into tadpoles that take around 6 weeks to complete their metamorphosis before winter arrives.

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Arizona toad (Anaxyrus microscaphus)

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photo by William Flaxington
least concern

Common Name: Arizona Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus microscaphus
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: United States – Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah
Size: 2- 3 inches (50 – 80 mm)

The Arizona Toad was first described for a specimen from Arizona, hence the name. It is also found all over the southwestern United States. Like most toads, the Arizona Toad is nocturnal (active at night) and spends most of their time underground. They come up to the surface at night to eat.

While the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List has them listed as only Least Concern, the populations are slowly declining due to habitat destruction and hybridization. The Arizona Toad and the Woodhouse’s Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii) hybridize and pushes the Arizona Toad out of areas.

Breeding happens for a short period of time from February to April. Breeding only takes 10 to 12 days. The males will call from the shallows of pools next to streams and rivers. Females will choose a mate and the two will pair up in amplexus. The female will then lay her eggs and the males will fertilize them. The female will lay an average of 4500 eggs. The eggs take 3 to 6 days to hatch. The tadpoles then take 1 to 3 months to complete their metamorphosis.

Frog of the Week

Coquí Llanero (Eleutherodactylus juanariveroi)

photo by the USFWS

Common Name: Coquí Llanero, Plains Coquí, or Puerto Rican Wetland Frog
Scientific Name: Eleutherodactylus juanariveroi
Family: Eleutherodactylidae
Locations: Puerto Rico
Average Male Size: .58 inches (14.7 mm)
Average Female Size: .62 inches (15.8 mm)

The Coquí Llanero was only recently in 2005 by Neftalí Rios. It is found only in the wetlands in a old navy base in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. Sadly, it is already listed as a federal endangered species and as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. They are listed due to their small habitat that is threatened by development. The wetlands have been designed as critical habitat but that offers little protection.

Now onto the biology of the frog. Like all members of the family Eleutherodactylidae, the Coquí Llanero lays eggs that directly develop into froglets, skipping the tadpole stage. Though, they lay one of the smallest clutches of eggs, ranging from 1 to 5. Interestingly, they only lay their eggs on the leaves of the Bulltongue Arrowhead (Sagittaria lancifolia). Breeding can happen year round though more clutches are produced in the warmer, wetter months. The call of the Coquí Llanero is the highest frequency of all amphibians on Puerto Rico, ranging between 7.38 and 8.28 kHz. This makes the calls nearly impossible to hear over all the other noises in the wetlands.

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Enrichment for Frogs and Toads

Enrichment has become an integral part of the captive care of animals. Enrichment is important to help keep animals mental and physical stats well. Sadly, most of the knowledge and ideas about enrichment is about mammals. Reptiles and amphibians are sadly, often missed when it comes to enrichment but I don’t! I will go over some ideas for enrichment for frogs and toads.

Diet Variety

One of the easiest and often missed enrichment opportunities is using a variety of different food items for frogs and toads. Often keepers feed their frogs or toads just crickets or Dubai roaches. There are a variety of prey items that one can feed your frog or toad including meal worms, horn worms, and earthworms.

Feeding Time Variety

Another simple enrichment idea is just changing when you feed them. People become used to feeding their animals at certain times of the day but adding variety in the time can help them out.

Tong Feeding vs Active Hunting

There are generally two different methods of feeding for frogs and toads. You can either feed each food item to the animal with tongs or release the food items into the tank for them to hunt down on their own. Tong feeding allows the keeper to monitor the exact amount of food each animal is receiving and allows all animals to be fed evenly. When frogs and toads are housed together, one individual may eat more of the food than the others if not tong fed, causing an imbalance. Allowing the frogs and toads to actively hunt down their food provides more psychological enrichment for the animals. I try to balance the two out.

Shelter

Frogs and toads need to be provided shelter to hide in. I don’t really think of this as enrichment but as a basic need but others think its enrichment so I will include it. Often keepers won’t provide shelter due to them wanting to see their frog or toads all the time. Put your animals needs first. PVC pipes are commonly used item for aquatic / terrestrial species to hide in. Arboreal species should have hanging leaves on their tanks for them to climb up and hide in. Burrowing species should have enough dirt in their tank to burrow down and hide in. Those are some of the most basic ways to provide shelter. You can add plants, branches, or rocks to any tank to create more areas for hiding.

Bioactive Enclosures / Tanks

In the search for the most naturalistic environment for reptiles and amphibians, bioactive enclosures were created. These enclosures don’t just have a few live plants in them, but try to create a whole mini ecosystem. Springtails, isopods, or other invertebrates are added to help break down waste. It is believed that these set ups will make the animals feel more natural.