Frog of the Week

Red-backed Poison Dart Frog (Ranitomeya reticulata)

Red-backed Poison Dart Frog
photo by Brian Gratwicke

Common Name: Red-backed Poison Dart Frog
Scientific Name: Ranitomeya reticulata
Family: Dendrobatidae – Poison Dart Frog family
Locations: Ecuador and Peru
Size: 0.5 – 0.6 inches (13 – 17 mm)

The Red-backed Poison Dart Frog live amongst the leaf litter in the tropical rainforests. They are the smallest species in their genera, not even reaching an inch long. Perfect for hiding amongst the leaves.

Mating for the frog is interesting. The female lays her eggs amongst the leaf litter. She only lays two or three eggs in total. Once the eggs hatch, the male carries the tadpole to bromeliad to live in until it completes its metamorphosis. In some captive breeding colonies, the female frog has laid unfertilized eggs for the tadpoles to eat.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Red-backed Poison Dart Frog as Least Concern for Extinction. The frog has a wide range and are numerous throughout. The main threat to the frog is habitat loss due to deforestation. Another threat is over-harvesting for the pet trade but people have had success captive breeding the species so it isn’t as big as a problem.

Frog of the Week

Growling Grass Frog (Litoria raniformis)

Growling Grass Frog
photo by Tereza T

Common Name: Growling Grass Frog, Southern Bell Frog, Green and Gold Frog, and Warty Swamp Frog
Scientific Name: Litoria raniformis
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: Australia and Tasmania
Introduced Locations: New Zealand
Size: 4 inches (10 cm)

The Growling Grass Frog lives along marshes, ponds, and dams in southeastern Australia and northern Tasmania. They have been introduced to New Zealand, where they have spread across the island. Due to the frog’s size, they are problematic to the native fauna of New Zealand. The frog gets its name from the growling sounds it makes. The name changes depending on their location, most often being called the Southern Bell Frog.

The males call from spring into summer (August to February) with the peaks from September to December. They hope to attract the females to the ponds. Once a female arrives, the male grasps her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female lays her eggs and the male fertilizes them. The female frog lay up to 400 eggs. Neither parent provides any care for their offspring. The tadpoles take 3 – 16 months to hatch, depending on location.

photo by Tnarg 12345

Growling Grass Frog Conservation

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Growling Grass Frog as Endangered. There are numerous reasons for the decline of the frog. Some blame the introduction of non-native fish such as Mosquitofish and carp, that feast upon the frog’s eggs. Another threat to looms over the frogs is Chytrid Fungus, a deadly fungal disease. The disease has been found in populations of the Growling Grass Frog. Lastly, the destruction of the frog’s habitat is another key to their decline. With all these threats and the lack of support from Australia’s government, its hard to see a future for these frogs.

Frog of the Week

Maranon Poison Frog (Excidobates mysteriosus)

Maranon Poison Frog
photo by Henk Wallays
Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Maranon Poison Frog
Scientific Name: Excidobates mysteriosus
Family: Dendrobatidae – Poison Dart Frog family
Locations: Peru
Size: 1.06 – 1.14 inches (27 – 29 mm)

The Maranon Poison Frog lives in scrub forests in eastern Peru. Like most members of the family Dendrobatidae, the frog has bright colors that warn predators that they are poisonous. This allows them to be active during the day. They spend most of their time near water holding bromeliads. The males even call from the bromeliads. The male moves the eggs into separate bromeliad water spots.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categories the Maranon Poison Frog as Endangered. Humans destroyed most of the habitat to make room for cities and coffee farms. Now, the frog only lives in 3 small forest areas. Luckily, conservation groups have bought these areas to protect them. Still, smugglers are taking the frogs for the illegal pet trade. The species has reproduced in captivity.

Frog of the Week

Talamanca Horned Tree Frog (Hemiphractus elioti)

Talamanca Horned Tree Frog
photo by Brian Gratwicke

Common Name: Talamanca Horned Tree Frog
Scientific Name: Hemiphractus elioti
Family: Hemiphractidae – Marsupial Frog family
Locations: Panama
Max Size: males – 2 inches (52.5 mm), females – 2.5 inches (64.7 mm)

The Talamanca Horned Tree Frog lives in the pre-montane primary forests in the Cordillera de Talamanca. They lives on the forest floor up to 3 feet (1 meter) off the ground in vegetation. Their coloration and weird head shape allows them to camouflage in perfectly.

The frog is a relatively new species to science, only being described in 2018. Before that, it was considered to part of the Banded Horned Tree Frog (Hemiphractus fasciatus) but there was small differences in their mouths between the species. They are both members of the family Hemiphractidae – the Marsupial Frog family. The members of the family carry their eggs on their back in various ways. The females of the Talamanca Horned Frog carry their eggs directly on their back until the eggs hatch into small froglets.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List has not evaluated the conservation status of the Talamanca Horned Tree Frog yet. However, the Banded Horned Tre Frog is categorized as Near Threatened. The primary threat to the frog is deforestation to make room for farms and towns. Luckily, there are captive populations of the frog that have been successful breeding.

Frog of the Week

Zombie Frog (Synapturanus zombie)

Zombie Frog
photo by Antoine Fouquet

Common Name: Zombie Frog
Scientific Name: Synapturanus zombie
Family: Microhylidae
Locations: French Guiana and Brazil
Male Size: 1.45 – 1.57 inches (37 – 40 mm)
Female Size: 1.52 – 1.65 inches (38.7 – 42.1 mm)

The Zombie Frog gets its name from the fact that they eat brains. Just kidding. They got their name because the researchers who described them. Apparently, they didn’t pack well for the trip and was caught in a thunderstorm while digging in the ground with their bare hands.

Not much is confirmed about their mating habits. The males call before and during heavy rains just before the rainy season starts. Also, the males dig out a spot for themselves, spacing themselves out from each other by a few meters.

Currently, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List has not classified the species yet. Researchers who described the species have suggested it by placed in Data Deficient due to not having enough information.

Frog of the Week

Red Pumpkin Toadlet (Brachycephalus pitanga)

Red Pumpkin Toadlet
photo by Carlos Henrique Luz Nunes de Almeida

Common Name: Red Pumpkin Toadlet
Scientific Name: Brachycephalus pitanga
Family: Brachycephalidae – Saddleback Toads
Locations: Brazil
Size: 0.42 – 0.55(10.8 – 14 mm)

The Red Pumpkin Toadlet lives in the Atlantic rainforests of São Paulo state of southeastern Brazil. They live primarily amongst the leaf litter on the ground but can be found up to three feet off the ground. The females are slightly larger than the males. Their colors are aposematic, meaning their colors warn predators that they are poisonous. This allows the toadlet to move around during the day without fear of being eaten by a predator. Also, the species posses highly fluorescent bones on their back and head. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why but its probably a signal possibly to warn of their toxins.

The mating season for the toadlet is believed to be during the rainy season. The males stake out territory and will defend the land from other males including fighting them. Depending on the humidity, the male toadlets call from on or in the leaf litter to attract females. The females lay their eggs on the ground and the male fertilizes them. The eggs are direct developing, skipping the free tadpole stage.

Conservation Status of the Red Pumpkin Toadlet

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List has no conservation status for the Red Pumpkin Toadlet. Currently, the IUCN Red List does not have enough data to officially give them a status but it is believed that the toadlet is doing well. Researchers have noted that the toadlet is numerous at sites that they found them.

Frog of the Week

Eungella Torrent Frog (Taudactylus eungellensis)

Eungella Torrent Frog
photo by Geordie Torr

Common Name: Eungella Torrent Frog and Eungella Day Frog
Scientific Name: Taudactylus eungellensis
Family: Myobatrachidae – Australian Ground Frog Family
Locations: Australia
Size: 1.25 – 1.45 inches (32 – 37 mm)

The Eungella Torrent Frog lives near streams in rain forests and sclerophyll forests of the Eungella National Forest in Queensland. They are most active during the day (diurnal) but they do also call at night. The females are larger than the males, a common trait in frogs and toads.

The breeding season takes place from spring to fall. The males call out to attract the females to them. The female lays between 30 – 50 eggs under rocks in the water.

Conservation of the Eungella Torrent Frog

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Eungella Torrent Frog as a Critically Endangered species. Once considered a common species, the frog’s populations have been declining. This is primarily due to Chytrid Fungus, a deadly disease for frogs and toads. The disease thickens the skin of the frog, making it harder for the frog to transport nutrients so they then die. There has been suggestions for the reason for decline such as habitat loss and invasive species, but there is no evidence to confirm these claims.

Frog of the Week

Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog (Rana kauffeldi)

Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog
photo by Brian R Curry

Common Name: Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog or Mid-Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog
Scientific Name: Rana kauffeldi
Family: Ranidae – True Frog family
Locations: United States – Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia
Size: 5.1 inches (13 cm)

The Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog lives near coastal habitats. The majority of the species lives within 13 miles of the coast. The frog is relatively new species to western science, only being described in 2014. The species epithet is named after herpetologist Carl Kauffeld who wrote a paper about how he believed there was a third species of leopard frog in Staten Island way back in the 30s. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List didn’t give the frog a conservation status yet due to it being so new. The Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog looks similar to other leopard frogs. They have less and small spots on their dorsal than the other leopard frogs.

The frogs breed in the winter and early spring, usually February or March. The more south the species lives, the earlier it breeds. The males gather in groups and call out from shallow water bodies to attract the female frogs. Once the female frogs arrive, the male grasps her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female lays her eggs and the male fertilizes them. The female lays around a thousand eggs. Neither of the parents provide any care for their offspring.

Frog of the Week

Common Mexican Tree Frog (Smilisca baudinii)

Common Mexican Tree Frog
photo by Todd Pierson

Common Name: Common Mexican Tree Frog or Baudin’s Tree Frog 
Scientific Name: Smilisca baudinii
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and the United States
US Location: Texas
Male Size: 3.77 inches (96 mm)
Female Size: 3 inches (76 mm)

The Common Mexican Tree Frog is found from the tip of Texas almost all the way through Central America. It seems like it be better to be named the Central American Tree Frog. They are the largest native tree frog to the United States, Cuban Tree Frogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis) are larger but are not native. This tree frog has a special gift. During the hot summer, the frog will make a cocoon around its body to keep itself from drying out.

The frogs breed at anytime of the year following enough rain fall. Breeding for the Common Mexican Tree Frog is pretty standard. The males migrate to shallows of water bodies and start to call. Once the female shows up, the male grasps her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female lays her eggs and the male fertilizes them. The female lays between 2,500-3,500 eggs.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List classifies the frog as Least Concern for Extinction. The state of Texas lists them as a Threatened Species but there is no federal listing. In Texas, there are only small isolated populations of the frog while south of the border, the frog is very common.

Frog of the Week

New Jersey Chorus Frog (Pseudacris kalmi)

Two New Jersey Chorus Frogs
photo by Will Lattea

Common Name: New Jersey Chorus Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudacris kalmi
Family: Hylidae– Tree Frog family
Locations: United States – Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia
Size: 1.1 – 1.4 inches (28 – 36 mm)

The New Jersey Chorus Frog lives mostly in marshes, meadows, and woodlands. Like many of the Chorus Frog in the US, they have 3 pronounced lines that run down their back. Even though they are part of the Tree Frog family, most chorus frogs spend most of their time on the ground or very low to the ground vegetation;

The breeding season lasts from February to June. The frogs mate in temporary ponds created by the melting snow. First, the male calls out to attract the females. Next, the female arrives and the male grasps her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female lays her eggs and the male fertilizes them. The female lays between 8 and 143 eggs. Neither parent will look after their eggs or offspring.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the New Jersey Chorus Frog as Least Concern for Extinction. This is due to the frog having a decent range, presumed large population, and being very tolerable to habitat modification. However, they are listed as a endangered species in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and a Species of Greatest Conservation Need-Tier 4a in Virginia.