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Frog of the Week

Marbled Balloon Frog (Uperodon systoma)

balloon frog.jpg
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.

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Cope’s Gray Tree Frog (Hyla chrysoscelis)

GrayTreeFrog
least concern
Common Name: Cope’s Gray Tree Frog
Scientific Name: Hyla chrysoscelis
Family: Hylidae
Locations: United States and Canada
US Locations: Alabama, Arkansas, Washington D.C., Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and West Virginia
Size: 2 inches

The Cope’s Gray Tree Frog is almost identical to the Eastern Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor) besides their calls and chromosome count. The Cope’s Gray Tree Frog is diploid while the Eastern Gray Tree Frog is tetraploid.

The frog is named after Edward Drinker Cope, the man who first described the frog to western science. Edward Drinker Cope described a lot of different species, over a thousand living and dead species. While the frog is named the Gray Tree Frog, it can also be green in color.

Frog of the Week

Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas)

westerntoad.JPG
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.

 

Other Amphibian of the Week

Bell’s False Brook Salamander (Isthmura bellii)

bells.jpeg
photo by Sean Michael Rovito

vulnerable
Common Name: Bell’s False Brook Salamander
Scientific Name: Isthmura bellii
Family: Plethodontidae – Lungless Salamanders
Location: Mexico
Size: 14 inches (36 cm)

The Bell’s False Brook Salamander is the largest salamander in the family Plethodontidae and one of the largest salamanders in the world. They live mostly under logs and in leaf litter. The Bell’s False Brook Salamander is a direct developing species of salamander, skipping the larvae phase. Because of this, the salamanders don’t need water to reproduce so they lay their eggs on land. Females can lay up to 20 eggs at a time.

Populations of the Bell’s False Brook Salamander is dropping. Their habitat is being destroyed for cities, logging sites, and farms but scientists don’t believe that this is the primary cause of their decline. They are still uncertain about it.

Frog of the Week

Crawfish Frog (Lithobates areolatus)

crawfish_frog.jpeg
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)

granular.jpg
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.

 

Other Amphibian of the Week

Ringed Salamander (Ambystoma annulatum)

ringed-salamander.jpg
photo by Peter Paplanus

least concern

Common Name: Ringed Salamander
Scientific Name: Ambystoma annulatum
Family: Ambystomatidae
Locations: Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma
Size: 10 inches max, generally 5.5 inches to 7 inches

The Ringed Salamander is found in the Ozark Plateau and Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Like most salamanders of the family Ambystomatidae, they are fossorial, spending most of their time hidden under ground, leaves, or logs. Hence why the family is often called the mole salamanders.

The best time to see the Ringed Salamander is fall from September to November, when they come out to breed. October is the best month to see them since that is when they are the most active breeding. Hundreds of individuals come to shallow, fish-less ponds to avoid any predators. Fertilization occurs internally. A day or two later, the females between 5 and 40 eggs on the bottom of the pond. Eggs hatch anywhere from 9 to 16 days after being laid.

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.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Red-bellied Newt (Taricha rivularis)

Red_Bellied_Newt_(Taricha_rivularis)least concern

Common Name: Red-bellied Newt
Scientific Name: Taricha rivularis
Family: Salamandridae
Location: United States – California
Size: 3 inches

The Red-bellied Newt is found only in Sonoma, Mendocino, and Humboldt counties of California. They are found in coastal redwood forests with rocky, cold, moderate to fast streams. The newt is mainly terrestrial until it comes to breeding, then they transform to become more aquatic with loose skin and a more flatter, wider tail. The Red-bellied Newt breeds in the same or close spot every year. After mating, females usually lay around 10 eggs under a rock or stone. The eggs take around 20-30 days to hatch and then undergo metamorphose in four months.

The Red-bellied Newt has a red belly to defend itself. When threatened by a predator, the newt will extend its limbs to the side to show the predator that they are poisonous. Sometimes, they will even kinda stand on two legs, lifting his front limbs and belly off the ground. They have enough poison in them to kill a human adult.