Frog of the Week

Climbing Mantella (Mantella laevigata)

Climbing Mantella
photo by Frank Vassen

Common Name: Climbing Mantella, Arboreal Mantella, Green-backed Mantella, and Folohy Golden Frog
Scientific Name: Mantella laevigata
Family: Mantellidae – Mantella family
Locations: Madagascar
Size: 0.86 – 1.14 inches (22-29 mm)

Just like all other Mantellas, the Climbing Mantella is found on the island of Madagascar. Specially, they are found in the rain forests, bamboo forests, and wooded forests in northeastern region. They are active during the day (diurnal), like all Mantellas.

The Climbing Mantella is one of the only arboreal species of Mantella. They can climb up to 4 meters high in trees and are often found on plants. They don’t even breed on the ground. During breeding season, the males call out during the day to attract the females. The males are territorial and will fight males that enter their land. However, some males do not defend their territory.

The males call out from raised platforms to attract female. Once a female arrives, the male puts his chin on the top of her head as a courtship display. Then, the male leads the female to a well in the vegetation. Once in there, the male grasps the female around the armpits (axillary amplexus) from behind. Next, the female lays only one eggs in the well and the male fertilizes it. The male stays at the well, hoping to attract more mates and to protect the eggs. The female leaves but often comes back to lay an unfertilized egg for the tadpole to eat.

Mantella frogs are very similar to Poison Dart Frogs. Both display bright colors to show off their toxic taste. They both don’t produce their own poison, they accumulate their poisons for their diet of ants.

Climbing Mantella Conservation

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Climbing Mantella as Least Concern for Extinction. The frog is abundant in its habitat though there are some threats on the horizon. Increased deforestation due to creating more farms, grazing areas for cattle, and towns is a serious future threat. Also, the harvesting of the frogs for the pet trade is another serious threat to their survival.

Frog of the Week

Japanese Common Toad (Bufo japonicus)

Japanese Common Toad
photo by Yasunori Koide 

Common Name: Japanese Common Toad
Scientific Name: Bufo japonicus
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: Japan
Size: 3.1 – 6.9 inches (80 – 176 mm)

The Japanese Common Toad lives on the islands of Kyusyu, Shikoku, Hokkaido, and Honshu of Japan. They have also been introduced to the island of Izu Oshima. Additionally, they live in a wide range of habitats from coastal areas to high in the mountains. The toads vary in color from a dark green, yellowish brown, to dark brown. Like most toads, they are active during the night and hide during the day.

Two subspecies of the toads are recognized by some researchers. The subspecies are the Eastern Japanese Common Toad (Bufo japonicus formosus) and the Western Japanese Common Toad (Bufo japonicus japonicus). The western subspecies is slightly larger than the eastern.

Mating

The breeding season for the toads is late winter / early spring from February to March. The toads migrate to ponds and swamps to breed. They use odor cues to find their way to these water bodies. In the pond, the males outnumber the females, leading to fighting and scrambling for a mate. The males try to grasp the females from behind in the amplexus position. Next, the female starts to lay her eggs. The females lay between 1,500-14,000 eggs. Then, the male fertilizes the eggs. Neither parent provides any care for their offspring. The eggs hatch into tadpoles shortly after. Then, the tadpoles complete their metamorphosis in June.

Conservation for the Japanese Common Toad

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Japanese Common Toad as Least Concern for Extinction. The species populations are decreasing but not at an alarming rate. The main cause of the declines is habitat loss from the urbanization of their land.

Frog of the Week

Limosa Harlequin Frog (Atelopus limosus)

Limosa Harlequin Frog
photo by Brian Gratwicke

Common Name: Limosa Harlequin Frog
Scientific Name: Atelopus limosus
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: Panama
Size: 1 – 1.6 inches (26.5 – 40.2 mm)

The Limosa Harlequin Frog lives amongst slopes of rocky streams in the forests of central Panama. Their bright colors warn predators of their toxicity, allowing them to be active during the day. There are two different morphs of the species. The lowland morph has a brown color with yellow fingertips. Meanwhile, the highland morph is green and yellow with a black V on its back. The females generally have a red / orange colored belly.

Limosa Harlequin Frog Conservation

The Harlequin Frogs(Atelopus) are one of the most endangered group of frogs in the world and sadly, the Limosa Harlequin Frog doesn’t fair any better. Additionally, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List classifies the frog as Critically Endangered. It is estimated that 80% of the population will die off One of the main reason for the declines is the invasive fungal pathogen Chytrid Fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis). This pathogen causes the skin of the frog to harden. Due to frogs only breathing through their skin, this causes them to suffocate and die. The loss of habitat for urban development and farms is another reason for the declines. At last, pollution from gold mining isn’t helping either.

To help ensure that the Limosa Harlequin Frog survives, researchers at the Smithsonian Institute and the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project have taken some of the frogs into captivity. They are raising frogs and tadpoles to release into the wild as well as keeping an emergency group in place.

Frog of the Week

Cape Platanna (Xenopus gilli)

Cape Platanna
photo by flickr user Chris Verwey
Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Cape Platanna, Gill’s Plantanna, and Cape Clawed Toad
Scientific Name: Xenopus gilli
Family: Pipidae – Tongueless Frog family
Locations: South Africa
Size: 2.3 inches (60 mm)

The Cape Platanna is an aquatic frog that inhabits the highly acidic seepages, marshes, ponds, and lakes of coastal South Africa. These waterbodies are dark in color, allowing the frogs to blend in. The Platanna are able to “see” in this water due to their highly developed lateral line system. This system always them to detect small vibrations in the water. The frogs have highly webbed clawed toes on their back legs to help them swim. They only come to the surface when their wetlands dry up during the summer or when they want to migrate ponds during the mating season. The frogs aestivate during the summer when their ponds dry up by digging deep into the mud.

The Cape Platanna breeds during the winter months between July to October. Unlike most frogs, members of the family Pipidae lack vocal sacs. To communicate with female frogs, the male frogs make a series clicks. Once the female selects her mate, the male grasps her around the waist in the amplexus position. Then, the female lays between 300 – 400 eggs while the male fertilizes them. Neither parent is known to provide any parental care. Once the eggs hatch, the tadpoles take 120 days to complete their metamorphosis.

Cape Platanna Conservation

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Cape Platanna as Endangered with Extinction. There is believed to be only 5 locations where the frogs live. Most of the wetlands that the frog calls home as been filled to make room for housing development and farm lands. Additionally, the frog hybridizes with the African Clawed Frog (Xenopus laevis), reducing their numbers. Better protections are needed to help save them.

Frog of the Week

Holy Cross Frog (Notaden bennettii)

Holy Cross Frog
photo by wikiuser Tnarg 12345

Common Name: Holy Cross Frog, Crucifix Frog, and Crucifix Toad
Scientific Name: Notaden bennettii
Family: Myobatrachidae – Australian Ground Frog family
Locations: Australia
Size: 2.7 inches (6.8 cm)

The Holy Cross Frog is a fossorial species of frog found in the  black soil plains and semi-arid grassland regions of western New South Wales and Queensland. During the dry times, the frog burrows down in the ground and surrounds itself in a cocoon to preserve water. They are capable of digging down almost 10 feet (3 meters)! Due to their fossorial lifestyle, the frogs feed primarily on ants and termites. When threatened by predators, the frogs produce a sticky, glue-like substance that predators don’t want to eat. It is advised to wash your hands after handling the Holy Cross Frog and basically any frog.

Once the heavy rains come, the frog will emerge from the ground, ready to breed. The male frogs will move to temporary ponds created by the rains and start to call out to females. The call sounds like a woo. Once the female arrives at the pond, the male glues himself to her back due to his smaller size. Next, the female lays her eggs and the male will fertilize them. Neither parents provide any parental care for their offspring.

Holy Cross Frog
photo by flickr user eyeweed

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Holy Cross Frog as Least Concern for Extinction. The only threats to the species are habitat loss due to farming, climate change, and the introduction of the invasive Cane Toad (Rhinella marina). Researchers have been trying to get the frogs to breed in captivity just in case but have been struggling. Surprisingly, the answer to this problem was a Youtube Clip of a thunderstorm. This clip helps simulate heavy rain storms that gets the frogs in the mood.

Frog of the Week

Paradoxical Frog (Pseudis paradoxa)

Paradoxical Frog
photo by Hans Hillewaert
least concern

Common Name: Paradoxical Frog, Paradox Frog, Shrinking Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudis paradoxa
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog Family
Locations:  Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela
Size: 1.7 – 3 inches (45 – 75 mm)

The Paradoxical Frog is named after a strange phenomenon during their metamorphosis. Their tadpole is the largest tadpole in the world, almost reaching 10 inches (25 cm) long! That is over three times larger than the length of an adult frog! What a paradox! Yet, not all tadpoles exhibit the paradox. Tadpoles that are born in temporary bodies of water with predators transform quickly and leave the water before they get to massive sizes. In permanent bodies of water, they transform slower, thus allowing more growth time.

The Paradoxical Frog is a member of the Tree Frog family – Hylidae but they are never seen in the trees. They live in and around permanent and temporary ponds. These are the same bodies of water that they breed in. The males will call for the ponds for the females. Once the female arrives, the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female will start laying her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The eggs are laid in the vegetation near the shore. Neither parent provides any parental care.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Paradoxical Frog as Least Concern for Extinction. They have a wide spread range and are common throughout it. Some populations are facing declines due to habit loss due to urban development and agriculture.

Frog of the Week

Magdalena Giant Glass Frog (Ikakogi tayrona)

Common Name: Magdalena Giant Glass Frog
Scientific Name: Ikakogi tayrona
Family: Centrolenidae – Glass Frog family
Locations: Colombia
Size: 1.2 inches (28 mm)

The Magdalena Giant Glass Frog is found in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range in the Magdalena department of Colombia, at altitudes up to a mile (1790 meters) high. They are an arboreal species of frog, living up in the trees. During the day, the frogs will hide on the back of leaves, camouflaging in with their translucent skin. Glass Frogs are really small, so even a frog reaching not even 1.5 inches long is considered gigantic.

The males of the species will mark out territory in leaves over hanging a stream. They will fight other males that enter their territory. The males even have humeral spines on their arms that they use to fight the other males. Eventually, the males will start calling for the females. Once the females arrive, the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female will lay her eggs on the leaves and the male will fertilize them.

The Magdalena Giant Glass Frog is the only known Glass Frog known that females will provide parental care for their offspring. In the other species, parental care is either provided by the male or not at all. The females will brood the eggs, protecting the eggs from predators and keeping them hydrated. Eventually, the eggs will hatch and the tadpoles will fall into the stream.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Magdalena Giant Glass Frog as Vulnerable to Extinction. They are found only in a small area where habitat destruction is an increasing problem.

Frog of the Week

Hurter’s Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus hurterii)

Common Name: Hurter’s Spadefoot Toad
Scientific Name: Scaphiopus hurterii
Family: Scaphiopodidae – American Spadefoot Toad family
Locations: United States and Mexico
US Locations: Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma
Size: 1.75 – 3.25 inches (4.4 – 8.3 cm)

The Hurter’s Spadefoot Toad is named after naturalist Julius Hurter, former curator of the St. Louis Academy of Science. They were once considered a subspecies of the Eastern Spadefoot Toad but was moved to being a full species. Like all Spadefoot Toads, the Hurter’s Spadefoot Toad is mostly fossorial, spending most of its time in burrows underground. They have keratonized sheaths on their rear feet that they use to help dig. Spadefoot toads can be distinguished from other groups of toads due to their vertical, cat-like eyes.

The easiest time to find a Hurter’s Spadefoot Toad is during the breeding season from late spring into summer. They breed following heavy storms that fill up temporary pools of water. Mating only lasts a day or two so you need to get out there quick. The males will call out from the shallows of the pools to attract a mate. Once the mate arrives, the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female will lay her eggs and then the male will fertilize. Neither parent provides any care for the offspring.The eggs hatch in 48 hours and the tadpoles complete their metamorphosis in two weeks. This is due to the limit time they have before the pond dries up. Surprisingly, the tadpoles will eat each other if there isn’t enough food in the ponds.

Frog of the Week

Tarahumara Frog (Rana tarahumarae)

Tarahumara Frog
photo by Jim Rorabaugh of USFWS

Common Name: Tarahumara Frog
Scientific Name: Rana tarahumarae
Family: Ranidae – True Frog family
Locations: United States and Mexico
US Locations: Arizona
Size: 2.5 – 4 inches (64 – 102 mm)

The Tarahumara Frog is found in the montane canyons of southern Arizona and down into Mexico. Their main habitat is rocky streams and plunge pools. They breed in these permanent bodies of water from April to May. The male frog will call out to the females though they lack vocal sacs like other frogs have. The female will arrive and the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female will lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. Females can lay up to 2200 eggs at a time. Neither parent will provide any parental care for their offspring. The tadpoles can take over 2 years to complete their metamorphosis.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Lists categorizes the Tarahumara Frog as Vulnerable to Extinction. The frog is extinct in Arizona and is steadily disappearing from Mexico. Chytrid Fungus, a deadly disease, is believed to have caused large die offs of the frogs. Other reasons for the declines in their numbers include invasive species, pollution, and habitat destruction. Invasive species, such as the Blue Gill and American Bullfrog, feast upon the frog and their tadpoles. Much of the range of the Tarahumara Frog in Arizona has been taken over by Bullfrogs.

There are currently projects working to reintroduce the frogs into Arizona. The first reintroduction was done in 2004. All of the frogs sadly died out over the next 10 years due to Chytrid Fungus and flooding. In 2012 and 2013, frogs and tadpoles were once again reintroduced but a die off happened due to chytrid fungus again. There’s still hope enough survived to continue the population. More plans for reintroduction are being considered.

Frog of the Week

Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata)

photo by Todd Pierson

Common Name: Western Chorus Frog or Midland Chorus Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudacris triseriata
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: Canada and the United States
US Locations: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Tennessee
Size: .3 – 1.5 inches (10 – 37 mm)

The Western Chorus Frog is a poorly named frog, due to it not living anywhere close to the west. It used to be part of a species complex with other Chorus Frogs, such as the Upland Chorus Frog (Pseudacris feriarum), but they were eventually all split into their own species. The Western Chorus Frog is often confused with other species of chorus frogs. Differences between the chorus frog species have to do with location and leg size so it can be really confusing. While chorus frogs are a member of the tree frog family – Hylidae, they are not found climbing high in the trees but usually around ground level. Due to their small size, they can be rather hard to find. Best time to locate them is during the breeding season when they are calling.

 Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife

The Western Chorus Frog starts to breed in February or March, depending on when the snow melts. They will continue to breed until the end of April or early May. The males of the species will start to call from temporary bodies of water like flooded ditches, flooded fields, and ponds. Females will come to the water and choose a mate. Once that happens, the male will grasp the female from behind in the amplexus position. Then the female will lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The female can lay 300 eggs at a time. Neither parent provides any parental care for the offspring. The eggs hatch a week later and a tadpole emerges. The tadpole takes 3 months to complete their transformation into a juvenile frog.