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Pyrenean Brook Salamander (Calotriton asper)

Pyrenean Brook Salamander
Pyrenean Brook Salamander – photo by DAGOR53


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.


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..

tree frog thursday

Upland Chorus Frog (Pseudacris feriarum)

photo by Todd Pierson

least concern
Common Name: Upland Chorus Frog and Southeastern Chorus Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudacris feriarum
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: United States – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky,  Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia
Size: 0.75 – 1.5 in. (1.9 – 3.8 cm)

The taxonomy of the Upland Chorus Frog can be confusing. It used to be considered a subspecies of the Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata) before it became its own species. Now, it is considered part of the Nigrita clade with the Southern Chorus Frog (Pseudacris nigrita), Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata), New Jersey Chorus Frog (Pseudacris kalmi), Spotted Chorus Frog (Pseudacris clarkii), and the Boreal Chorus Frog (Pseudacris maculata). 

While the Upland Chorus Frog is part of the Tree Frog family, it doesn’t actually live in trees at all. Most of its time is spend on the forest floor. The breeding season of the frog varies depending on the latitude of where they are. More southern populations start their breeding season at the start of winter, while northern populations start at the start of spring. This time is the best time to spot a Chorus Frog because they can be really hard to find. They prefer mating in shallow, temporary bodies of water, where the female lays up to 1000 eggs. The eggs take a few days to hatch while they complete their metamorphism in two months.

tree frog thursday

Hourglass Treefrog (Dendropsophus ebraccatus)

photo by Adam G. Clause

least concern
Common Name: Hourglass Treefrog
Scientific Name: Dendropsophus ebraccatus
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog Family
Locations: Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama
Size: .9 – 1 inch (23 – 26.75 mm)

The Hourglass Frog is a arboreal species of frog, but they come down to the ground to breed. The breeding season is during the wet season, generally from May to November. The males of the species call vegetation hanging over the ponds made during the wet season rains. There are several different calls that the males make. They perform advertising calls for the female frogs while also performing aggressive and defensive calls at other males nearby. The frog is interesting in the fact that the females are able to lay the eggs in the water or up in the trees. The female chooses which habitat would be best for the eggs to survive in due to risks from predators.

Toad Tuesday

Evergreen Toad (Incilius coniferus)

photo by Brian Gratwicke

least concern

Common Name: Green Climbing Toad, Evergreen Toad
Scientific Name: Incilius coniferus
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad Family
Locations: Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Panama
Male Size: 2 – 2.8 inches (53-72 mm)
Female Size: 3 – 3.7 inches (76-94 mm)

The Evergreen Toad is different than most toads in that it climbs trees and vines, making it semi arboreal. Its been reporter that they can climb at least three feet high. They don’t breed in the trees, like in some species of tree frogs, but in shallow pools and ponds like most toad species. This happens during the dry season from December to April. After the eggs are laid, it takes them about five days to hatch into tadpoles. The tadpoles take 33 days to undergo metamorphism.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Anderson’s Salamander (Ambystoma andersoni)

Anderson’s Salamander by Henk Wallays

critically endangered

Common Names: Anderson’s Salamander, Achoque
Scientific Name: Ambystoma andersoni
Family: Ambystomatidae – Mole Salamander family
Locations: Mexico
Size: 4 – 5.5 inches (100 – 140 mm)

The Anderson’s Salamander is found in the Laguna de Zacapu in the Mexican state of Michoacán at elevations of over 6500 feet (2000 meters). They are a neotenic species of salamander, keeping their larval features, such as their gills, throughout their life. This means they are fully aquatic and never leave the water. Don’t confuse this guy with the Axolotl. While both are found in Mexico, the Axolotl was found near Mexico City.

The Anderson’s Salamander is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Introduced predatory fish have been eating them and people also eat them. The area around the lake is used for tourism and agriculture, creating pollution problems. These problems must be solved to keep the salamanders around.

Frog of the Week

Phantasmal Poison Frog (Epipedobates tricolor)

Phantasmal Poison Frog – photo by Holger Krisp

Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Phantasmal Poison Frog, Phantasmal Poison Arrow Frog
Scientific Name: Epipedobates tricolor
Family: Dendrobatidae – Poison Dart Frog family
Locations: Ecuador
Size: .9 inches (22.6 mm)

The Phantasmal Poison Dart Frog is a radiantly colored frog from the rain forests in the Andean slopes of Ecuador. Sadly, they are disappearing from this area due to a variety of reasons. Some of their habitat is being cut down to make room for farms. They are over harvested for the pet trade and for medicinal purposes. The frog’s poison has an alkaloid compound called epibatidine, which could be used as an alternative to morphine. Make sure if you are planning on buying one as a pet, that it is captive bred.

They are a diurnal species, meaning they are active during the day. They don’t have to be afraid of predators seeing them because their colors show that they are poisonous. During the breeding season, males will call from elevated platforms to attract the females. The male frogs will carve out territories and defend them from intruders. The male frogs vocalize at the intruders to signal them to leave. If that does not work, they will fight them.

After the frogs mate, the females lay around ten eggs on land. The male frogs will stick with the eggs and protect them. Once the eggs hatch, the male parent moves the tadpoles to bodies of water on their back.

Toad Tuesday

Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus)

photo by William Flaxington

least concern
Common Name: Great Plains Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus cognatus
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: Canada, Mexico, the United States
US Locations: Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming
Size: 2 – 4.5 inches

The adult Great Plains Toad spends most of its life burrowed underground. They are nocturnal so the best time to see them is at night when they are foraging for food. Toads have been seen out of their burrows during the day during rains or just after. They can also be seen outside their burrows during the mating season. When the heavy spring rains come, the toads emerge from their burrows and move to their breeding area.

The breeding season is generally between March and September but in the northern part of the range, its restricted to May to July. The Great Plains Toad breed in a variety of habitats such as temporary pools, slow streams, holding ponds, and irrigation ditches. The toads prefer temporary bodies of water but will use permanent bodies. Males call from the shores to attract females. Females approach males that they deem fit and mating happens. After the female lays her clutches of eggs, both the male and female leave the eggs on their own.

Eggs hatch in under a week and the tadpoles begin to undergo metamorphosis between 17 and 45 days. Metamorphism happens rather quickly due to the Great Plains Toad’s preference for temporary pools and the fear of the pools drying out before the toads finish undergoing their metamorphism.

Frog of the Week

Squirrel Tree Frog (Hyla squirella)

photo by  William J. Barichivich (USGS)

least concern
Common Name: Squirrel Tree Frog, Rain Frog
Scientific Name: Hyla squirella
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog Family
Locations: United States – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia
Introduced Location: Bahamas
Size: 1.5 inches

The Squirrel Tree Frog are not always green but can be brown or yellow. They are a nocturnal specie of frog, active at night. They are a relatively common species of frog but invasive Cuban Tree Frogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis) in Florida are decreasing their populations there by eating them.

Breeding takes place between March and October depending on location. Males descend from the trees and move to temporary bodies of water and start to call. Temporary bodies are the preferred habitat to breed in due to the lack of fish predators. After and during rain storms, the Squirrel Frog makes a special call that sounds like a squirrel, hence the name. They are also called Rain Frogs because of this. Females lay around a thousand eggs in a clutch. The eggs hatch into tadpoles and then take 40-50 days to undergo metamorphosis.

The Squirrel Tree Frog appears similar to a bunch of other tree frogs. The Green Tree Frog and it are the same size but the Green Tree Frog has a stripe down its side. The Barking Tree Frog is larger and has more granular skin. The Pinewoods Frog and Gray Tree Frogs has bright yellow coloration on their legs.


Toad Tuesday

Yosemite Toad (Anaxyrus canorus)

photo by William Flaxington

Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Yosemite Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus canorus
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: United States – California
Size: 3.3 inches (84 mm)

The Yosemite Toad is found in the central Sierra Nevada mountain range at elevations between 8,500-10,000 feet. These toads are a diurnal species, active during the day compared to most toads that are nocturnal. They are a relatively long lived species, capable of living 15 years. The trade-off is that toads take a while to reach sexual maturity, over 3 years. Breeding season is from May to August. Typical breeding sites are shallow pools and small, slow moving streams. Females can lay up between 15000 to 2000 eggs. These females do not mate every year, another trade-off from their long lives. The males and female toads look very different compared to each other.

The Yosemite Toad is listed as a federally threatened species by the United States government. It is most likely going to be added to the endangered species list. There are a lot of reasons for the decline in the toads. Habitat degradation by cattle grazing is one of the main reasons. Other reasons include the introduction of non-native game fish, droughts increased by climate change, and possibly climate change. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) designated 1.8 million acres of land as a protected area for the Yosemite Toad and other threatened species.