Frog of the Week

Southern Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog (Rana muscosa)

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photo by Chris Brown (USGS)

Conservation status is Endangered
Common Name: Southern Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog
Scientific Name: Rana muscosa
Family: Ranidae – True Frog family
Locations: United States – California
Size: 2 – 3 inches (5 – 7.6 cm)

The Southern Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog is a federally listed endangered species by the United States. They live in only  few small areas in southeastern California near the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It was not always like this. They used to be a common species before they started to disappear.

There are many reasons for the declines. Trout was introduced into the Sierra Nevada Mountains to increase recreational fishing there. These non-native trouts eat on the tadpoles of the frog as they are predators. Studies shown that removing trouts from lakes in the Southern Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog’s habitat allows the frog repopulate the area and increase numbers.

Another key reason for the population decline of the Southern Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog is the introduction of Chytrid Fungus into their environment. Chytrid Fungus is a deadly pathogen that thickens the skin of the frog. The thicker skin prevents the ability of the frog to breathe and drink through its skin and eventually causes death. The disease has lead to widespread deaths of amphibians all over the world. Sadly, it has also affected the Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog. Those are the two main reasons for the decline but other reasons include pesticides, climate change, habitat degradation and fragmentation, and drought.

Luckily, zoos are trying to help the species. The San Diego Zoo has been captive breeding the Southern Mountain Yellow-legged Frog and releasing the tadpoles into the wild. The Oakland Zoo and the San Francisco Zoo have been catching juvenile frogs and raising them in captivity. They give the frogs anti-fungal baths and when they are older, they release them.

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Frog of the Week

Reticulated Glass Frog (Hyalinobatrachium valerioi)

glassfrog
least concern
Common Name: Reticulated Glass Frog, Valerio’s Glass Frog, La Palma Glass Frog, and Ranita de Vidrio
Scientific Name: Hyalinobatrachium valerioi
Family: Centrolenidae – Glass Frog Family
Locations: Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Panama
Size: 1 inch

Like most Glass Frogs from the family Centrolenidae, the Reticulated Glass Frog is a highly arboreal species of frogs, rarely leaving the trees that are their home. They will even lay their eggs on leaves overhanging streams. Breeding for the Reticulated Glass Frog takes place during the wet season. Males will carve out territories and start calling. If another male enters the territory, the male will send out calls to tell the intruder to go away. If the intruder does not leave, a fight will break out that could lead to death. After mating, the female will lay around 30 eggs on the underside of leaves overhanging streams. She will then leave the eggs but the males will protect and guard them from enemies such as wasps. They will even pee on them to keep them moist. Parental care is not often seen in glass frogs.

The Reticulated Glass Frog can be found in the pet trade. They can be hard to take care of so you shouldn’t get one if you are a beginner to frogs. They are nocturnal so you won’t see them much during the day since they hide under leaves. No more than one male can be housed together at a time or they could fight and kill each other. The Reticulated Glass Frog doesn’t have the longest lifespan, averaging between 5-8 years in captivity, obviously with better care maybe longer. If you still want to buy one, make sure it is captive bred, to help protect wild ones. Also never release any pet frog into the wild if you can no longer take care of it.

Frog of the Week

Pig Frog (Lithobates grylio)

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photo by the USFWS

least concern
Common Name: Pig Frog
Scientific Name: Lithobates grylio
Family: Ranidae – True Frog Family
Locations: United States – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas
Introduced Locations: Bahamas, China, and Puerto Rico.
Size: 6.5 inches (165 mm)

The Pig Frog is named after the male’s mating call that sounds like a pig grunt. Like most frogs in North America, the Pig Frog breeds from early spring to late summer. Generally, the frog breeds in permanent bodies of water such as ponds, lakes, and swamps but have been known to breed in ephemeral ponds, streams, and roadside ditches. Females can lay up to 15,000 eggs during a breeding season. The Pig Frog is mostly aquatic, only coming to the edge of bodies of water.

Frog of the Week

Marbled Balloon Frog (Uperodon systoma)

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photo by Gihan Jayaweera

least concern
Common Name: Marbled Balloon Frog
Scientific Name: Uperodon systoma
Family: Microhylidae
Locations: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
Size: 2.5 inches

The Marbled Balloon Frog spends most of its life underground, only coming to the surface during the summer monsoons from May to July. They have powerful hind legs, that help them burrow deep in the ground. One frog had been found over 3 feet deep. The frog lacks any teeth, due to their diet of mainly termites and ants.

Frog of the Week

Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas)

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photo by Walter Siegmund

least concern
Common Name: Western Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus boreas
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: Canada, Mexico, and the United States
US Locations: Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming
Size: 5 inches

The Western Toad is found in western North America, from Alaska down to Baja California. There are two subspecies of the toad, the California Toad (A. b. halophilus) and the Boreal Toad (A. b. boreas). The California Toad is found in California (duh), northern Baja California, and western Nevada. The Boreal Toad is found in the northern parts of the range.

 

westerntoad
photo from USGS/Chris Brown

Some populations of the Western Toad are not doing so hot. Western Toads are listed in Colorado as an endangered species. They are listed as a protected species in Wyoming. Chytrid Fungus, a deadly pathogen, seems to be the main problem for the Western Toads. Habitat destruction is another problem for the toads.

 

Frog of the Week

Crawfish Frog (Lithobates areolatus)

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photo by Todd Pierson

nearthreatened
Common Name: Crawfish Frog
Scientific Name: Lithobates areolatus
Family: Ranidae – True Frogs
Locations: United States – Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas
Size: 4.4 inches (113 mm) long for females, 4.1 inches (105 mm) long for males

The Crawfish Frog is named after the fact that they live in the holes of crawfish. They use the holes for protection from predators. In the northern part of their range, they use them to get below the frost line to prevent them from freezing to death.

Breeding occurs from January to May following rain fall. In the northern parts of their range, they breed later from late February to May while frogs in the southern parts of their range breed from January to April. After the rains fall and temporary ponds of water are formed by the rain, the male Crawfish Frogs migrate to these ponds and start calling. Female frogs follow shortly after. Crawfish Frogs are explosive breeders with most of the mating happening right away at the start of the season.

One noticeable characteristic of the male Crawfish Frog is their lateral vocal sacs which is not often seen in frogs in the US.

There are two sub species of the Crawfish Frog, the Northern (Lithobates a. circulosa) and Southern (Lithobates a. areolata).

Frog of the Week

Lowland Burrowing Tree Frog (Smilisca fodiens)

photo by Rafael Alejandro Calzada-Arciniega

least concern
Common Name: Lowland Burrowing Tree Frog, Northern Casquehead Frog,
Scientific Name: Smilisca fodiens
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: Mexico and the United States
US Location: Arizona
Size: 2.5 inches

The Lowland Burrowing Tree Frog is not your typical tree frog, it doesn’t live in the trees, it lives in burrows. It lives in the desert so the they need to keep moist. The burrows they live in are very moist. If the moisture leaves during periods of drought, the Lowland Burrowing Tree Frog can create a cocoon out of their outer skin to help keep them moist. After the rains come and the frog doesn’t need the cocoon anymore, the frog will break out and then eat the cocoon.

Frog of the Week

Granular Poison Frog (Oophaga granulifera)

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photo by Patrick Gijsbers

vulnerable
Common Name: Granular Poison Frog
Scientific Name: Oophaga granulifera
Family: Dendrobatidae – Poison Dart Frog family
Locations: Costa Rica and Panama
Size: .7 – .8 inches (18-22 mm)

The Granular Poison Frog is a diurnal (active during the day) species of frog. The males of the species are highly territorial in regards to their calling and breeding sites, even attacking other males. After breeding, the males will brood the eggs and keep them moist. After the eggs hatch, the females transport the tadpoles on their back to a water-filled plant. The females will lay unfertilized eggs for the tadpoles to feed on. The Granular Poison Frog is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN due to habitat destruction and habitat fragmentation. Logging, agriculture, and expanding urbanization are causing this.

 

Frog of the Week

Red Spotted Toad (Anaxyrus punctatus)

photo by the USGS

least concern

Common Name: Red-Spotted Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus punctatus
Family: Bufonidae – True Toads
Locations:  Mexico and the United States
US Locations: Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah
Size: 3.7 to 7.5 cm (1.5 to 3.0 in)

The Red-Spotted Toad is found in the southwestern United States down to almost Mexico City, Mexico. Breeding takes place from March to September, depending on location and habitat. Red-Spotted Toads that live near streams breed from March to June and typically breed 2 to 4 weeks. Populations that live in the desert breed from June to September, depending on when the summer rains come. These toads breed in pools form by the rain and only breed for a few days. The Red-Spotted Toad hybridizes with a few different toads including the Western Toad, Great Plains Toad, Woodhouse’s Toad, and Sonoran Green Toad.

Frog of the Week

Northern Red-legged Frog (Rana aurora)

photo by Walter Siegmund

least concern
Common Name: Northern Red-legged Frog
Scientific Name: Rana aurora
Family: Ranidae
Locations: Canada and the United States
US Locations: Alaska, California, Oregon, and Washington
Size: 3.3 inches

The Northern Red-legged Frog is found along the western coast of North America. They breed from January to March depending on how far north they are located. Farther north they are, the later they breed. Egg masses from the frogs number between 300 and 5000 eggs. Eggs hatch in about a week into tadpoles. The tadpoles take 3 to 7 months to fully undergo metamorphosis. Some of the tadpoles take until the next spring to turn into frogs. Adult frogs can live up to 10 years.