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Korean Crevice Salamander (Karsenia koreana)

1760.jpeg
photo by Todd Pierson

leastconcern
Common Name: Korean Crevice Salamander
Scientific Name: Karsenia koreana
Family: Plethodontidae
Location: Republic of Korea (South Korea)
Size: 1.6 inches (42 mm) Snout to Vent Length

The Korean Crevice Salamander is the ONLY salamander from the family Plethodontidae that is found in Asia. Like all Plethodontid salamanders, the Korean Crevice Salamander lacks lung and breathes through its skin. It is thought that it is also fully terrestrial because it lives far away from streams. The species isn’t well studied so the mating and reproduction of the salamander is a mystery.

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Frog Reproduction

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and I know all of you are wondering, how do frogs have sex? Today is your lucky day because I’ll be explaining it. There are many different ways that frogs and toads reproduce and if I try to cover them all, this post might become its own book.

Frogs and toads generally start breeding in early spring or late winter if the weather is nice. They also start breeding at the change from dry season to wet season. The breeding season ends in summer, giving the offspring the longest time to develop before winter or dry season comes.

Bufo_bufo_couple_during_migration(2005).jpg
By Janekpfeifer at de.wikipedia – Uploaded by Janek, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=251993

The most well known way that frogs reproduce is in the water through external fertilization. Male frogs can be found in bodies of water calling for female mates during the night. Some frogs breed in vernal ponds / ephemeral pools (temporary ponds created by melting of snow and spring rain) because these ponds lack fish that can prey on their offspring. Other frogs look for more permanent bodies of water because their tadpoles don’t undergo metamorphosis until after the next winter. For this sort of reproduction, females come into the territory of a male and the male jumps on her back. This mating position is called amplexus. Males will often try to mate with anything, including different species of frogs, toads, and fish. Male frogs don’t have penises, they have an opening called the cloaca where the sperm is released. Females have this opening too, where the eggs come out. The male grips the female from behind so that when he releases his sperm, there’s a better chance at fertilizing the eggs. Other males sometimes will come into the frog’s territory and also jump on the female while the other male is holding her. They sometimes even form giant piles of frogs or toads. Occasionally, it gets so rough, the female is killed. Usually though, the female releases her eggs and the male fertilizes them and she goes on her merry way.

While some frogs mate in the water like that, many others mate on the ground, and some even mate in the trees. During reproduction in the trees, the couple makes a foam nest out of the eggs and other secretions to keep the eggs dry. For the species that reproduce on land, the eggs might never need water because when they hatch, the offspring is immediately a froglet and not a tadpole.

Ascaphus_truei_web
By Mokele – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11586685

Not all frogs use external fertilization, some use internal fertilization. There are different ways that frogs and toads use internal fertilization. Some frogs such as the Tailed Frogs from Ascaphidae, perform internal fertilization then lay fertilized eggs later. The Tailed Frog’s tail is used in fertilization.

The Nimba Toad (Nimbaphrynoides occidentalis) is the only known viviparous frog / toad. The frog is pregnant for 9 months and the babies feed off the mom’s secretion.

The genus Nectophrynoides and the Golden Coquí (Eleutherodactylus jasperi) are the only known ovoviviparous frogs and toads, where they have eggs inside them that hatch and then they give birth to little froglets.

Limnonectes_larvaepartus_adult_female
Photo By Mirza D. Kusrini, Jodi J. L. Rowley, Luna R. Khairunnisa, Glenn M. Shea, Ronald Altig – Kusrini MD, Rowley JJL, Khairunnisa LR, Shea GM, Altig R (2015) The Reproductive Biology and Larvae of the First Tadpole-Bearing Frog, Limnonectes larvaepartus. PLoS ONE 10(1): e116154. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0116154, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37784743

Ok just kidding about them being the only ovoviviparous frogs because there is another one but it’s kind of different. The Fanged Frog (Limnonectes larvaepartus) is also ovoviviparous but instead of giving birth to froglets, it gives birth to tadpoles.

 

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Cayenne Caecilian (Typhlonectes compressicauda)

Typhlonectes_compressicauda_2
by Haplochromis

leastconcern
Common Name: Cayenne caecilian
Scientific Name: Typhlonectes compressicauda
Family: Typhlonectidae
Location: Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, and Venezuela
Size: Around 20 inches or 523 mm

The Cayenne Caecilian lives in permanent rivers and marshes in the lowland forests of South America. Like most species of the family Typhlonectidae, it is fully aquatic. Like all caecilians, the Cayenne Caecilian lacks any arms or legs.

During the day, the Cayenne Caecilian hides in it’s mud burrows and then come out at night to hunt. They hunt for aquatic invertebrates but often eat dead fish found in permanent fishing nets. If the caecilian is attacked while hunting, they can produce mucus to hopefully scare off the predators.

The Cayenne Caecilian likes to breed during the rainy season like most amphibians do. Fertilization is international for the Cayenne Caecilian and for all caecilians. They are viviparous and give birth to live caecilians.

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Cascade Torrent Salamander (Rhyacotriton cascadae)

0188.jpeg
William Flaxington

nearthreatened
Common Name: Cascade Torrent Salamander
Scientific Name: Rhyacotriton cascadae
Family: Rhyacotritonidae
Location: United States: Oregon and Washington
Size: 1.5 – 2 inches (4.0 to 5.1 cm) snout to vent length, 3 – 4.3 inches (7.5 – 11 cm) total length

The Cascade Torrent Salamander lives in the old growth forests on the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains but their habitat is being destroyed because of logging. Sediment from logging and the roads being built to move logging equipment is polluting the streams that they live in.  Better protection for these forests are needed before the salamander becomes endangered. Climate change and the increase in temperature in the area is another cause of their status.

The life of the Cascade Torrent Salamander needs to be studied more.  They prefer colder water because it’s more oxygenated and the Cascade Torrent Salamander have reduced lungs.  Courtships behavior for the Cascade Torrent Salamander has not been observed. The salamanders breed all year long but mostly during fall and spring. Females usually lay around 8 eggs at the end of the spring. It takes over 5 years for the eggs to reach reproduction maturity age.

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Do frogs fart?

cm3KICy (1)
Art by LifeisDANK

A few days ago, my friend and I were talking and he asked me if frogs fart? I thought about it and I have never heard my frogs fart before but I had no idea if I just missed their farts or not.

You don’t have to know the answers to everything to be a good scientist, you just got to know where to find the answers. Former Herper of the Week, Nick Caruso, actually made a database of animal species and if they fart. Here’s a link to it – https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/19gMMn4Wmw3BNLWMojEy7kgrjnjVB2JlMSwd1s-nYyUc/edit#gid=0.

From there, we learn that frogs have weak sphincters so that if they fart, we probably can’t hear it. It also goes on to say that African Bullfrogs and Horned Frogs do fart and it smells bad.  Maybe I need to set up a recorder to see if Rayna farts.

If you want to learn more about animal farts, you can pre-order a book that Nick Caruso co-authored called Does It Fart?: The Definitive Field Guide to Animal Flatulence on Amazon today! It will be released on April 3rd this year. You can also get a copy for me because I’m poor.

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Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)

Redspotted_newt.jpg
photo by Brian Gratwicke

leastconcern
Common Name: Eastern Newt
Scientific Name: Notophthalmus viridescens
Family: Salamandridae
Location: United States and Canada
Maximum Size: 5.5 inches

The Eastern Newt is found in the Eastern half of the United States and Southeastern Canada. There are four different subspecies of Eastern Newt. They are the Red-spotted Newt (N. v. viridescens), Broken-striped Newt (N. v. dorsalis), Central Newt (N. v. louisianensis),  and Peninsula Newt (N. v. piaropicola). The differences between the subspecies have to do with the spots on the newt. Red-spotted Newt is the one in the picture above. They have large-red spots that run down it’s body. The Broken-striped Newt’s red spots are fused together to form dashes that run down it’s body. The Central Newt’s have smaller red spots and very little. The Peninsula Newt doesn’t have any red spots, just a ton of black spots. It’s also only found in the Florida Panhandle.

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The Eastern Newt has four different life stages. It starts off as an egg in a pond and shortly hatches to be an aquatic larva. This is where it get’s interesting. The larva can undergo metamorphosis to become either a terrestrial Red Eft or an adult aquatic newt. The terrestrial Red Eft stage lasts for two or three years. This is the best chance to find a newt if you look under logs. They make their to a pond then they change into an aquatic adult. At this stage in life, they can reproduce.

The Eastern Newt contains a few toxins such as tetrodotoxin. Their color is used to warn predators about eating them. I would not eat them if you find one.

 

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Differences between Salamanders and Newts

Have you ever wondered what the difference between a salamander and a newt is? Well wonder no more. If you don’t know, salamanders refer to any species in the order Caudata. The order contains over 700 different species in 10 different families. To examine what a newt is, we have to look at just one of those 10 families – Salamandridae. Don’t be afraid by the name, there are newts in here. The family is split into three different subfamilies or groups. They are Pleurodelinae, Salamandrinae, and Salamandrininae. The subfamily Pleurodelinae contains all the newts! There are 16 different genera in the subfamily and includes the majority of the species in the family. Why isn’t it named Newtidae instead of Salamandridae?

So now you know the taxonomic differences between newts and salamanders but what are the observable differences? Adult newts live more of an aquatic or semi aquatic life style while salamanders generally live more of a terrestrial life style. There are some salamanders that live aquatic life styles such as the Axolotl but the majority of adult salamanders are terrestrial (land loving). Because of the fact that adult newts are more aquatic, newts have tails that are wider and more paddle like and they have more webbed feet. Not all newts have these tails and some do live more of a terrestrial lifestyle.

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Dermophiidae

Number of Genera: 4 – Dermophis, Geotrypetes, Gymnopis, and Schistometopum
Number of Species: 14

The family Dermaphiidae is found in Central America, South America, Africa. Members of the family have secondary annuli and annular scales. Like most caecilians, this family is mostly fossorial (live underground). Caecilians are an understudied order of animals because of their fossorial life style so not a lot of info is known about these guys.

The genera Dermophis is known as the Mexican Caecilians or the Neotropical Caecilians. They are found from Mexico down to Colombia.

The genera Geotrypetes is found in Western Africa and are called the Western African Caecilians. They occur in the tropics there.

The genera Gymnopis is known as the Wet Forest Caecilians. They are found in Mexico and Guatemala to Panama.

The genera Schistometopum is known as the Guinea Caecilians and are found in Kenya, Tanzania, and the islands in the Gulf of Guinea. These caecilians are viviparous.

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13 Largest Salamanders in the World

 

One toed amphiumadanhipes
by Dan Hipes

The One Toed Amphiuma (Amphiuma pholeter) can grow up to 13 inches. They are the smallest of the three different kinds of Amphiuma. They are found in Southeastern United States.

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The Eastern Tiger (Ambystoma tigrinum) can grow up to 13 inches but usually between only 6 to 8.25 inches long. It is found in the eastern United States, southeastern Canada, and Mexico.

Ambystoma_mavortium_2006.jpg
photo by  Daiju Azuma

The record largest Western Tiger Salamander or Barred Salamander (Ambystoma mavortium) measured in at 13 inches but it was also a neotenic salamander. They usually are 6 to 8.5 inches long. They are found in the western United States.

Dicamptodon tenebrsosus - Pacific Giant Salamander
photo by John P. Clare

Coastal Giant Salamander (Dicamptodon tenebrosus) can grow up to 13 inches long but usually only up to 6 inches longs. They are found in the western part of the United States and Canada.

photo from the NPS

The Common Mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus) is the largest mudpuppy. The longest one recorded was 19 inches long. They are usually between 8 to 13 inches long. It is found in the Eastern United States and Southeastern Canada.

photo by Arne Hodalič

The Olm (Proteus anguinus) grows usually between 8 to 12 inches long but they can grow up to 16 inches. They are the largest salamander in Europe.

Siren_intermedia_2
photo by Stan Shebs

Lesser Siren (Siren intermedia) can grow up to 2.25 feet. It is found in Southeastern United States.

by Brian Gratwicke

The Hellbender or Snot Otter (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) often grows between 11 and 22 inches long but the record length recorded is 29 inches (2.4 feet) long. It is found in the Southeastern United States.

Siren_lacertina
photo from the USGS

The Greater Siren (Siren lacertina) can grow up to 3.2 feet long but are usually recorded at lengths between 20 to 30 inches long. It is found in the Southeastern United States.

photo by opencage

Three Toed Amphiuma (Amphiuma tridactylum) can grow up to 3.4 feet long but usually only between 1.5 feet to 2.5 feet long. It is found in Southeastern United States.

photo by Brian Gratwick

Two Toed Amphiuma (Amphiuma means) can grow up to 3.8 feet long but are usually around 14.5 to 30 inches long. It is the largest of the Amphiumas. It is found in the Southeastern United States.

photo by V31S70

Japanese Giant Salamander (Andrias japonicus) measures in at 4.9 inches long, making in the second largest salamander in the world.

by  ZSL

Chinese Giant Salamander (Andrias davidianus) is the largest salamander in the world. It has been observed to grow to 5.9 feet but lately most of the salamanders found are smaller than that. The average length is usually around 3.9 inches.

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Fischer’s Clawed Salamander (Onychodactylus fischeri)

Onychodactylus_fischeri01
photo by Pierre Fidenci

leastconcern
Common Name: Fischer’s Clawed Salamander,  Long-tailed Clawed Salamander
Scientific Name: Onychodactylus fischeri
Family: Hynobiidae
Location:
Russia, China, North Korea, and South Korea
Max Size:
7.4 inches for females, 7 inches for males

The Fischer’s Clawed Salamanders lives high in the mountains of Northeastern Asia. Like the other members of it’s genus, the Fischer’s Clawed Salamander does not have lungs. They just breathe through their skin.