Frog of the Week

Common Lesser Escuercito (Odontophrynus americanus)

photo by Raul Maneyro

least concern
Common Name: Common Lesser Escuercito or American Ground Frog
Scientific Name: Odontophrynus americanus
Family: Odontophrynidae
Locations: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay
Size: 1.75 inches (4.6 mm)

The Common Lesser Escuercito is a nocturnal frog found in semi arid and humid forests. They are a fossorial species, living underground, only coming to the surface to breed. Breeding happens after heavy rains. They can breed in permanent or temporary bodies of water. Males are highly territorial and will even fight each other for the best calling spot. They will call from the shallows to attract the females and then breed. After breeding, both parents leave and perform no parental care.


Frog of the Week

Chiriqui Harlequin Frog (Atelopus chiriquiensis)

photo by Brian Gratwicke

critically endangered

Common Name: Chiriqui Harlequin Frog and Lewis’ Stubfoot Toad
Scientific Name: Atelopus chiriquiensis
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: Costa Rica and Panama
Female Size: 1.9 inches (49 mm)
Male Size: 1.3 inches (34 mm)

The Chirique Harlequin Frog is sadly, probably extinct. While still listed as critically endangered by the IUCN redlist, it has not been seen since the 1990s. What happened to this beautiful frog? There are multiple different reasons for the decline. Chytrid Fungus, a deadly pathogen, has wiped out a majority of the population. The Chiriqui Harlequin Frog is not the only frog to be killed off by the fungus. Other frogs to become extinct from the fungus includes the Panamanian Golden Frog. The rest of the frogs didn’t do well against introduced trouts and the destruction of their habitat.

Frog of the Week

Carvalho’s Surinam Toad (Pipa carvalhoi)

photo by Renato Augusto Martins

least concern

Common Name: Carvalho’s Surinam Toad
Scientific Name: Pipa carvalhoi
Family: Pipidae – Tongueless Frog family
Locations: Brazil
Female Size: 2.6 inches (68 mm)
Male Size: 2.2 inches (57 mm)

The Carvalho’s Surinam Toad is a highly aquatic frog, only leaving the water to escape drying ponds. Males of the species are territorial, chasing away and even wrestling male frogs that invade their territory. Just like its cousin the Surinam Toad (Pipa pipa), the Carvalho’s Surinam Toad gives “birth” to their young out of their back. To accomplish this task, the male grasps around the female’s waist (inguinal amplexus). The female swims upward to the surface and releases her eggs. She then turns down and the male then fertilizes the eggs and pushes them into the female’s back The couple does this repeatable until all the eggs are released from the female. After 2 to 4 weeks, tadpoles emerge from the mother’s back, slightly different than the Surinam Toad who has froglets emerge.

Frog of the Week

Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged Frog (Rana sierrae)

photo by William Flaxington

Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged Frog
Scientific Name: Rana sierrae
Family: Ranidae – True Frog Family
Locations: United States – California and Nevada (probably extinct there)
Size: 2 – 3 inches (5 – 7.6 cm)

The Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged Frog is a federally listed endangered species by the United States. One study found that 92% of the population have become extinct. There are two primary causes for the decline: Chytrid Fungus and introduced non-native species.  Chytrid Fungus is a deadly pathogen that has affected frogs around the world. It causes the skin of the frog to harden preventing air flow in the frog. Introduced trouts have preyed on the tadpoles of the frogs, causing declines. Experiments of complete removal of the trouts in lakes have shown to increase the Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged Frogs. Other smaller threats to the frog are climate change, pollution, and habitat destruction due to cattle grazing.


Frog of the Week

Sanguine Poison Arrow Frog (Allobates zaparo)

photo by Santiago Ron

least concern

Common Name: Sanguine Poison Arrow Frog, Zaparo’s Poison Frog, and Sanguine Poison Frog
Scientific Name: Allobates zaparo
Family: Dendrobatidae – Poison Dart Frog family
Locations: Ecuador and Peru
Size: 1.2 inches (30.5 mm)

The Sanguine Poison Arrow Frog is a diurnal (active during the day) species of frog. It can move around during the bright daylight without fear due to their bright colors that warn predators that they are poisonous. Surprise! They aren’t actually poisonous. They use batesian mimicry, where they look similar to other poisonous frogs but actually aren’t. The frog species it mimics are the Ecuador Poison Dart Frog (Ameerega bilinguis) and the Ruby Poison Dart Frog (Ameerega parvulus).  Interestingly,  in areas where both of the frogs inhabit, the Sanguine Poison Arrow Frog mimics the coloration of the Ecuador Poison Dart Frog, the less poisonous of the two.

The breeding for the Sanguine Poison Arrow Frog is pretty typical for any poison dart frog. The frogs lay their eggs on leaves and when the eggs hatch, the parents carry the tadpoles on their back to a body of water. It isn’t known which parent or if both parents carry the eggs over to the water.


Frog of the Week

Johnstone’s Whistling Frog (Eleutherodactylus johnstonei)


least concern

Common Name: Johnstone’s Whistling Frog or Lesser Antillean Whistling Frog
Scientific Name: Eleutherodactylus johnstonei
Family: Eleutherodactylidae
Locations: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Introduced Locations: Aruba, Bermuda, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Guyana, Jamaica, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela
Size:  .6 – 1.3 inches (17-35 mm)

The Johhnstone’s Whistling Frog is named after Robert S. Johnstone, the Chief Justice of Grenada, who helped collect the first specimens. These small frogs live on many of the islands in the eastern Caribbean and have spread to other areas. They can stow away easily on boats and are great at adapting to new areas.

The frogs breed throughout the year but mostly during the wettest months, June to August. Males produce whistling calls to attract females. Once the female finds the male, the male will back away while continuing to call. The female will follow and they move to a breeding site. The female will lay between 10 – 30 eggs. The male or the female protects the eggs until they hatch. The eggs hatch directly into froglets, skipping the tadpole stage.

Frog of the Week

European Common Frog (Rana temporaria)

photo by  Bill and Sam Lionheart

least concern
Common Name: European Common Frog,  European Common Brown Frog,  and just Common Frog
Scientific Name: Rana temporaria
Family: Ranidae – True Frog Family
Locations: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom
Size: 2.4 to 3.5 inches (6 to 9 cm)

The Common Frog is found throughout Europe including close to the Arctic Circle. They are a very cold tolerant species and are active throughout most of the year. They hibernate in the winter starting in October and ending in February or March. They hibernate underwater and sometimes form underwater hibernacula with thousands of other frogs.

The frogs awake from their hibernation and they are ready to mate. Mating occurs from March to June but in most places, it occurs in April. The males will start to develop a blue throat to attract females. The eggs are laid in shallow bodies of water such as ponds, lakes, and canals.

Frog of the Week

Carpenter Frog (Rana virgatipes)

photo from the USGS

least concern

Common Name: Carpenter Frog
Scientific Name: Rana virgatipes
Family: Ranidae – True Frog family
Locations: United States- Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Virginia
Size: 2 inches (50 mm)

The Carpenter Frog is found along the Atlantic Coast from New Jersey down to Georgia. They are easily identified by their two yellow lines that run down their back. Males of the species have paired vocal sacs. Most of their lives is spent in the water and rarely are found far from their wetland homes.

Carpenter Frogs breed in permanent bodies of water such as marshes, ponds, and swales. Carpenter Frogs and their tadpoles can tolerate more acidic waters than most frogs in the eastern United States so they breed in more acidic bodies of water. The females lay between 200 to 600 eggs for the male to fertilize. After the fertilization, both parents leave their offspring to defend for themselves. The tadpoles take over a year to turn into frogs. They have to survive cold winters in their northern ranges.

Frog of the Week

Phantasmal Poison Frog (Epipedobates tricolor)

Phantasmal Poison Frog – photo by Holger Krisp

Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Phantasmal Poison Frog, Phantasmal Poison Arrow Frog
Scientific Name: Epipedobates tricolor
Family: Dendrobatidae – Poison Dart Frog family
Locations: Ecuador
Size: .9 inches (22.6 mm)

The Phantasmal Poison Dart Frog is a radiantly colored frog from the rain forests in the Andean slopes of Ecuador. Sadly, they are disappearing from this area due to a variety of reasons. Some of their habitat is being cut down to make room for farms. They are over harvested for the pet trade and for medicinal purposes. The frog’s poison has an alkaloid compound called epibatidine, which could be used as an alternative to morphine. Make sure if you are planning on buying one as a pet, that it is captive bred.

They are a diurnal species, meaning they are active during the day. They don’t have to be afraid of predators seeing them because their colors show that they are poisonous. During the breeding season, males will call from elevated platforms to attract the females. The male frogs will carve out territories and defend them from intruders. The male frogs vocalize at the intruders to signal them to leave. If that does not work, they will fight them.

After the frogs mate, the females lay around ten eggs on land. The male frogs will stick with the eggs and protect them. Once the eggs hatch, the male parent moves the tadpoles to bodies of water on their back.

Frog of the Week

Squirrel Tree Frog (Hyla squirella)

photo by  William J. Barichivich (USGS)

least concern
Common Name: Squirrel Tree Frog, Rain Frog
Scientific Name: Hyla squirella
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog Family
Locations: United States – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia
Introduced Location: Bahamas
Size: 1.5 inches

The Squirrel Tree Frog are not always green but can be brown or yellow. They are a nocturnal specie of frog, active at night. They are a relatively common species of frog but invasive Cuban Tree Frogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis) in Florida are decreasing their populations there by eating them.

Breeding takes place between March and October depending on location. Males descend from the trees and move to temporary bodies of water and start to call. Temporary bodies are the preferred habitat to breed in due to the lack of fish predators. After and during rain storms, the Squirrel Frog makes a special call that sounds like a squirrel, hence the name. They are also called Rain Frogs because of this. Females lay around a thousand eggs in a clutch. The eggs hatch into tadpoles and then take 40-50 days to undergo metamorphosis.

The Squirrel Tree Frog appears similar to a bunch of other tree frogs. The Green Tree Frog and it are the same size but the Green Tree Frog has a stripe down its side. The Barking Tree Frog is larger and has more granular skin. The Pinewoods Frog and Gray Tree Frogs has bright yellow coloration on their legs.