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Mink Frog (Rana septentrionalis)

mink_frog
photo by Mike Ostrowski

least concern

Common Name: Mink Frog
Scientific Name: Rana septentrionalis
Family: Ranidae – True Frog Family
Locations: Canada and the United States
US Locations: Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Vermont, and Wisconsin
Size: 3 inches (76 mm)

The Mink Frog is found along the eastern border of the United States and Canada. It appears similar to Green Frogs and American Bullfrogs but it has dark spots on its legs that the other two doesn’t. They are named after their smell that supposedly smells like a mink. Others have described the smell as like rotting onions. Suffice to say that no one wants to smell this frog. The Mink Frog has also been called the Frog of the North due to it living so far north. No Mink Frogs were present at the battle for Winterfell.

 

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Columbia Spotted Frog (Rana luteiventris)

columbiaspottedfrog_grass_phil_myers_umich.jpg
photo by Phil Myers

least concern

Common Name: Columbia Spotted Frog
Scientific Name: Rana luteiventris
Family: Ranidae – True Frog family
Locations: Canada and the United States
US Locations: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming
Size: 4 inches (10.1 cm)

The Columbia Spotted Frog has a very large range from Alaska down to Nevada and Utah. They can be found at sea level all the way up 10,000 feet high in elevation. They can be found active during the winter underneath the ice. Breeding for the frog takes place between February to early July, depending on elevation and latitude, after the snow starts to melt. The frog mates like most frogs do, the males call from the shallows of a water body and the female selects her mate. The pair goes into amplexus while the female lays her eggs. Neither parent provides any care for the eggs or offspring. Eggs are typically laid in aquatic vegetation to protect and hide the eggs. The adults can be found in or near the edges of water bodies when not hibernating.

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International Tiger Day

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Happy International Tiger Day! The Tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest living species of all the feline species. It can reach lengths of 10 feet long. There is only ONE species of living tigers, but a few different subspecies are recognized. The White Tiger is not a subspecies of the tiger, but is just a genetic variation. Sadly, the tigers haven’t been doing well in the wild. They have been wiped out of an estimated 93% of their historic range. Luckily, many conservation organizations are working to save them. Most of the work involves protecting and restoring habitat for the tigers while keeping them safe from poachers.

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Canadian Toad (Anaxyrus hemiophrys)

Canadian_Toad_-Anaxyrus_hemiophrys
Canadian Toad – photo by ceasol

Common Name: Canadian Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus hemiophrys
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad Family
Locations: Canada and the United States
US Locations: Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming
Size: 1 1/2-3 1/4 inches (3.7-8.3 cm)

The Canadian Toad is more aquatic than most toad species in North America. They can be found in or near prairie wetlands. For the winter, the Canadian Toad can burrow below the frost line. They also overwinter within mima mounds, small earth mounds. These mounds can hold hundreds of toads at a time.

The Canadian Toad breeds from May to July depending on the location. They breed in shallow areas of water such as lakes, ponds, and temporary bodies of water. They lay several thousand eggs that hatch in 3 to 12 days. The tadpoles take 6 to 8 weeks to turn into full toads.

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Pyrenean Brook Salamander (Calotriton asper)

Pyrenean Brook Salamander
Pyrenean Brook Salamander – photo by DAGOR53

nearthreatened

Common English Names: Pyrenean Brook Salamander and Pyrenean Mountain Newt
Scientific Name: Calotriton asper
Family: Salamandridae
Locations: Andorra, France, and Spain
Female Size: 4.3 – 5.5 inches (110 – 40 mm)
Male Size: 4.1 – 4.7 inches (105 – 120 mm)

The Pyrenean Brook Salamander is found only in the Pyrenean range in Europe. It is found near oxygen rich mountain streams, ponds, and lakes. They breed in these waters once the snow melts. Males can actively search out females or they will raise their tail to almost a near vertical position as a signal to the females. The males can hold this position for hours.

After mating, the females lay 20 to 30 eggs in the crevices and cracks of water bodies. The larval stage varies in length due to the elevation they are at. At lower elevations, the larval stage takes a little over a year. The larval stage can last two years at higher elevations. Sometimes in the Valle de Arán, they never undergo metamorphism and are neotenic, retaining their larval characteristics throughout their life.

While the Pyrenean Brook Salamander is only rated as Near Threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list, their populations are declining and they could become endangered if the trend isn’t stopped. Non-native trouts have been introduced into the streams that they live in for fishing purposes. These trouts feed on the salamanders. Humans have also dammed off some of the streams they live in and have built roads through them. Campers have polluted the streams that the salamanders live in.

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Plains Leopard Frog (Lithobates blairi)

plains leopard frog
photo by Don Becker

least concern
Common Name: Plains Leopard Frog or Blair’s Leopard Frog
Scientific Name: Lithobates blairi
Family: Ranidae – True Frog Family
Locations: United States – Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas
Size: 4.3 inches

Mating behavior of the Plains Leopard Frog is pretty normal for a member of the True Frog family. Breeding for the frog takes place between February to October depending on locality. Males will call from the shallows of a wide variety of water bodies including rivers, streams, marshes, ponds, and ditches. Once the female frog selects a mate,  they will embrace and start to lay eggs. The females can lay between 4,000–6,500 eggs. Eggs can hatch in a few days but up to three weeks. The tadpoles take a few months to undergo metamorphism but some tadpoles will even overwinter and complete their metamorphism in Spring.

The species epiphet, Blairi, and one of the common names Blair’s Leopard Frog are named after Dr. William Franklin Blair, a famous zoologist.

The Plains Leopard Frog numbers have been on a decline. In areas with an introduced populations of the American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) in Colorado, the frogs have become scarce. They are listed as a Special Species of Concern in Indiana. In Arizona, they are a protected species were it is illegal to  harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect this animal or to attempt to engage in any such conduct..

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Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus)

spring.salamander
photo by John D. Wilson

least concern
Common Name: Spring Salamander
Scientific Name: Gyrinophilus porphyriticus
Family: Plethodontidae – Lungless Salamanders
Locations: Canada and the United States
US Locations: Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, and West Virginia
Size: 9 inches record length, generally only 7 inches

The Spring Salamander is found in and around cool mountain springs, creeks, and seeps. They can spend time under logs, stones, and leaves near the springs. They are noted as being hard to find even with their wide range. Few egg masses from the Spring Salamander has been found because the eggs are laid in underground recesses in the springs.

 

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Cave Salamander (Eurycea lucifuga)

cave_salamander
photo by Todd Pierson

least concern
Common Name: Cave Salamander
Scientific Name: Eurycea lucifuga
Family: Plethodontidae – Lungless Salamanders
Locations: United States – Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia
Size: 8 inches total length

The Cave Salamander can be found in and around caves, hence the name. They are also found along springs and streams. They primarily in the limestone regions. Cave Salamanders are adept climbers and climb the walls of caves and limestone rocks.

While the salamander is listed as Least Concern by the Internal Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), its populations in certain states are dwindling. In Ohio, Kansas, and Mississippi, they are listed as an Endangered species. In West Virginia, they are listed as Rare. The main threat is habitat destruction due to their specific habitat requirements.

 

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Great Basin Spadefoot Toad (Spea intermontana)

Spadefoot_pic
Great Basin Spadefoot by the NPS

least concern
Common Name: Great Basin Spadefoot Toad
Scientific Name: Spea intermontana
Family: Scaphiopodidae – American Spadefoot Toad Family
Locations: Canada and the United States
US Locations: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming
Size: 2.5 inches

The Great Basin Spadefoot Toad is found in the western United States and southwestern Canada. They live primarily in arid, desert regions where rain is hard to come by, but they have adaptations to overcome these hostiles environments. The Great Basin Spadefoot Toads are explosive breeder. Once the spring rain falls, the males migrate to ponds and start calling. After mating, the eggs hatch in 2-4 days. These tadpoles can be herbivorous or carnivorous, depending on the locality. The tadpoles take over a month to fully undergo metamorphosis.

Like all Spadefoot Toads, the Great Basin Spadefoot Toad is great at burrowing. They have powerful hind legs that have keratonized sheaths on their rear feet. This helps them to burrow deep in the ground to protect themselves from their arid environment.