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Frog of the Week

Coquí Llanero (Eleutherodactylus juanariveroi)

photo by the USFWS

Common Name: Coquí Llanero, Plains Coquí, or Puerto Rican Wetland Frog
Scientific Name: Eleutherodactylus juanariveroi
Family: Eleutherodactylidae
Locations: Puerto Rico
Average Male Size: .58 inches (14.7 mm)
Average Female Size: .62 inches (15.8 mm)

The Coquí Llanero was only recently in 2005 by Neftalí Rios. It is found only in the wetlands in a old navy base in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. Sadly, it is already listed as a federal endangered species and as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. They are listed due to their small habitat that is threatened by development. The wetlands have been designed as critical habitat but that offers little protection.

Now onto the biology of the frog. Like all members of the family Eleutherodactylidae, the Coquí Llanero lays eggs that directly develop into froglets, skipping the tadpole stage. Though, they lay one of the smallest clutches of eggs, ranging from 1 to 5. Interestingly, they only lay their eggs on the leaves of the Bulltongue Arrowhead (Sagittaria lancifolia). Breeding can happen year round though more clutches are produced in the warmer, wetter months. The call of the Coquí Llanero is the highest frequency of all amphibians on Puerto Rico, ranging between 7.38 and 8.28 kHz. This makes the calls nearly impossible to hear over all the other noises in the wetlands.

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Enrichment for Frogs and Toads

Enrichment has become an integral part of the captive care of animals. Enrichment is important to help keep animals mental and physical stats well. Sadly, most of the knowledge and ideas about enrichment is about mammals. Reptiles and amphibians are sadly, often missed when it comes to enrichment but I don’t! I will go over some ideas for enrichment for frogs and toads.

Diet Variety

One of the easiest and often missed enrichment opportunities is using a variety of different food items for frogs and toads. Often keepers feed their frogs or toads just crickets or Dubai roaches. There are a variety of prey items that one can feed your frog or toad including meal worms, horn worms, and earthworms.

Feeding Time Variety

Another simple enrichment idea is just changing when you feed them. People become used to feeding their animals at certain times of the day but adding variety in the time can help them out.

Tong Feeding vs Active Hunting

There are generally two different methods of feeding for frogs and toads. You can either feed each food item to the animal with tongs or release the food items into the tank for them to hunt down on their own. Tong feeding allows the keeper to monitor the exact amount of food each animal is receiving and allows all animals to be fed evenly. When frogs and toads are housed together, one individual may eat more of the food than the others if not tong fed, causing an imbalance. Allowing the frogs and toads to actively hunt down their food provides more psychological enrichment for the animals. I try to balance the two out.

Shelter

Frogs and toads need to be provided shelter to hide in. I don’t really think of this as enrichment but as a basic need but others think its enrichment so I will include it. Often keepers won’t provide shelter due to them wanting to see their frog or toads all the time. Put your animals needs first. PVC pipes are commonly used item for aquatic / terrestrial species to hide in. Arboreal species should have hanging leaves on their tanks for them to climb up and hide in. Burrowing species should have enough dirt in their tank to burrow down and hide in. Those are some of the most basic ways to provide shelter. You can add plants, branches, or rocks to any tank to create more areas for hiding.

Bioactive Enclosures / Tanks

In the search for the most naturalistic environment for reptiles and amphibians, bioactive enclosures were created. These enclosures don’t just have a few live plants in them, but try to create a whole mini ecosystem. Springtails, isopods, or other invertebrates are added to help break down waste. It is believed that these set ups will make the animals feel more natural.

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Barton Springs Salamander (Eurycea sosorum)

photo by Ryan Hagerty/USFWS

Common Name: Barton Springs Salamander
Scientific Name: Eurycea sosorum
Family: Plethodontidae – Lungless Salamander family
Locations: United States – Texas
Size: 2.5 inches (6.4 cm)

The Barton Springs Salamander is a federally endangered species and listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as Vulnerable to Extinction. They were thought to be found only in the outflows of the Barton Springs in Austin, Texas but a population has been found near Drippings Spring. They are listed due to their small habitat that is sensitive to environmental pollutants. There is a popular naturalistic swimming pool in the Barton Springs that houses the salamanders. While swimming in the water is said not to bother the salamanders, the cleaning of the pool can kill them. The Austin Blind Salamander (Eurycea waterlooensis), another endangered salamander, also lives in the Barton Springs.

Like all members of the family Plethodontidae, the Barton Springs Salamander has no lungs. Unlike most members of the family, the salamander is neotenic and keeps its larval characteristics, most notably, the gills. They are a fully aquatic species of salamander, never leaving the water. The salamanders are found usually under rocks or buried down in the gravel, from several inches to 15 feet deep!

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Eastern Banjo Frog (Limnodynastes dumerilii)

photo by fir0002

Common Name: Eastern Banjo Frog, Southern Banjo Frog, or Pobblebonk
Scientific Name: Limnodynastes dumerilii
Family: Myobatrachidae – Australian Ground Frog family
Locations: Australia – Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania
Size: 2 – 3.3 inches (50 – 85 mm)

The Eastern Banjo Frog is found in southeastern Australia and Tasmania. They received their name due to their call that sounds like a bonk from banjo being plucked. The frogs are also called Pobblebonk for that reason.

The frogs are fossorial and spend most of their time underground. They come up to the surface at night and during the rains. Breeding follows the rains from August to April. Females lay around 4000 eggs. Tadpoles take a long time to complete their metamorphism. In warm weather, it takes 4 – 5 months while in colder weather, it takes 12 – 15 months.

There are five different subspecies of the Eastern Banjo Frog. They vary in coloration, location, and the sound of their calls slightly. Below is a general map showing where the subspecies are.

map by Tnarg 12345

Limnodynastes dumerilii dumerilii in blue; Limnodynastes dumerilii grayi in red; Limnodynastes dumerilii insularis in green; Limnodynastes dumerilii fryi in pink and Limnodynastes dumerilii variegata in yellow. 

Limnodynastes dumerilii dumerilii has a orange stripe down its side and under its eye. It has a very distinguished BONK call.

Limnodynastes dumerilii grayi has more of a tok call instead of a bonk.

Snowy Mountains Banjo Frog (Limnodynastes dumerilii fryi) is found only in the Snowy Mountains hence the name for the subspecies.

Southern Banjo Frog (Limnodynastes dumerilii insularis) is the southern most subspecies of Eastern Banjo Frog. It has a blue coloration on their side.

Limnodynastes dumerilii variegata is distinguished by the area that they are found.

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Frogs and Toads of Tasmania

Frogs and Toads of Tasmania

Tasmania is home to only 11 species of frogs and toads from two different families.

Hylidae – Tree Frog Family

Tasmanian Tree Frog (Litoria burrowsae)

The Tasmanian Tree Frog is a medium sized frog, averaging between 50 – 60 mm (2 – 2.3 inches). It is found in the western half of Tasmania and only there.

Southern Brown Tree Frog (Litoria ewingi)

The Southern Brown Tree Frog is the smallest of the tree frogs on the island, only reaching 45 mm (1.8 inches) long. It is found throughout Tasmania.

Growling Grass Frog / Southern Bell Frog / Warty Swamp Frog (Litoria raniformis)

The Growling Grass Frog is the largest tree frog on the island. The size ranges from 50 mm to 100 mm (2 – 4 inches). Found everywhere besides the southern coast.

Myobatrachidae – Australian Ground Frog Family

Moss Froglet (Crinia nimbus)

The Moss Frog is found only in the southern coast. They average between 20 – 30 mm (.8 – 1.2 inches) long.

Eastern Common Froglet (Crinia signifera)

The Eastern Common Froglet is a small frog, ranging between 18 – 28 mm (.7 – 1.1 inches). They have a granular white marbled belly. It is found throughout the Tasmania and the Bass Strait Islands.

Tasmanian Froglet (Crinia tasmaniensis)

The Tasmanian Froglet is a small froglet, ranging between 20 – 30 mm (.8 – 1.2 inches) long. The froglets have a rough red belly. They are found in the eastern half of Tasmania.

Southern Smooth Froglet (Geocrinia laevis)

The Southern Smooth Froglet is found in the northwestern part of Tasmania and Kings Island. They get their name from their smooth belly that helps identify them. They also have pink coloration in groin and armpits. They are a small frog only 20 – 35 mm (.8 – 1.4 inches) long.

Eastern Banjo Frog / Pobblebonk (Limnodynastes dumerili)

The Eastern Banjo Frog is one of the largest frogs in Tasmania. It ranges between 50 – 85 mm (2 – 3.3 inches . It is found everywhere besides the southwest part of the island.

Striped Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes peroni)

Striped Frog is gold or brown in color with black or brown stripes down its back. It ranges in size from 45 – 75 mm (1.8 – 3 inches) long. It is found only in the northern coast of Tasmania and King Island.

Spotted Grass Frog / Spotted Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes tasmaniensis)

The Spotted Grass Frog is named after its distinguishable spots covering its body. It ranges from 30 – 47 mm (1.2 – 1.9 inches). It is found only in the eastern part of the Tasmania and Flinders Island.

Southern Toadlet (Pseudophryne semimarmorata)

The Southern Toad is easy to identify if you look at their belly. It has bright red or yellow coloring on the throat, arms, legs, and low belly. On the upper belly, it is marbled. They range between 22 – 32 mm (.9 – 1.25 inches). They are found in the eastern half of Tasmania and Flinders Island.

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Salamanders and Newts of Manitoba

Manitoba isn’t really blessed with many species of salamanders but the ones that they have are great.

Ambystomatidae – Mole Salamander family

The family Ambystomatidae is known as the Mole Salamanders due to them often living underground.

Blue Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale)

The Blue Spotted Salamander is known for the blue spots on their body. It is found in the southern part of Manitoba.

The Western Tiger Salamander is large with black bars running down its sides. It is found in the southern half of the state.

Proteidae

The family Proteidae contains Mudpuppies, Water Dogs, and the Olm. They are all highly aquatic species.

Common Mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus)

The Mudpuppy is a completely aquatic species of salamander. They retain their gills into adulthood. It is found near the southern border.

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Cascade’s Frog (Rana cascadae)

photo by Walter Siegmund

Common Name: Cascade’s Frog
Scientific Name: Rana cascadae
Family: Ranidae – True Frog family
Locations: United States and possibly Canada – California, Oregon, and Washington
Size: 1.75 – 3 inches (4.4 – 7.5 cm) with females being larger than males

The Cascade’s Frog is found at high elevations in the Pacific Northwest in the Cascades Mountains, the Olympics Mountains, and the northern Sierra Nevada. They range in color from brown, copper, tan, to olive green. The frogs are a diurnal species, meaning they are active during the day. They are thought to live at least 5 years.

The frogs overwinter near their breeding sites, slow moving permanent or temporary bodies of water lacking fish. Breeding season starts from March to August, depending on location. Reproduction is pretty standard. Male frogs will call from the shallows of water to attract mates. Once the frogs pair up, the male will grasp the female around the waist. The female will then lay her eggs in masses and the male will then fertilize them. Neither parent provides any care for the eggs or tadpoles. The egg masses contain 300 to 800 eggs. The tadpoles take around 2 months after hatching to complete their metamorphism.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list lists the Cascade’s Frog as Near Threatened. They are a candidate for the endangered species list in the United States. In California, they are listed as a species of species concern. In Oregon, they are listed as a critical species, and in Washington, they are a species of concern.

The number one reason for the decline is the introduction of non-native game fishes and American Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana). These fish and bullfrogs eat the frogs and tadpoles, limiting their habitat. Other reasons include drought, climate change, and pollution.



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Chiricahua Leopard Frog (Rana chiricahuensis)

photo by Jim Rorabaugh/USFWS

Common Name: Chiricahua Leopard Frog
Scientific Name: Rana chiricahuensis
Family: Ranidae – True Frog family
Locations: Mexico and the United States
US Locations: Arizona and New Mexico
Size: 2.2 to 4.3 inches (57 – 109.22 mm)

The Chiricahua Leopard Frog needs permanent bodies of water to reproduce. They breed from April to October. The males will call from the water and make a snore sounding call. The tadpoles take 3 to 9 months to complete metamorphosis, some have to over winter and complete it in the spring.

The Chiricahua Leopard Frog is listed as federally Threatened Species by the United States government. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List has them listed as Vulnerable. The main threats to the frog is habitat destruction, disease, and invasive species. Their habitat destroyed by dams, cattle grazing, water diversion, and ground water pumping. Chytrid fungus, a deadly frog killing disease that has caused many extinctions of frogs, has been found in the frogs since 1992. Lastly, non-native bullfrogs, sport fish, and crayfish were introduced to their habitat were they feast on the Chiricahua Leopard Frog.

The Phoenix Zoo has a head start program to help wild populations. Once the frogs in the wild start reproducing, eggs are collected and brought to the zoo to be raised. The eggs and tadpoles have a higher chance of survival this way. Then they are released back into the wild.

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Salamanders and Newts of Wisconsin

Ambystomatidae – Mole Salamander Family

Blue Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale)

The Blue Spotted Salamander is found throughout the state besides the southwest corner. They are named after the blue spots on their body but the spots can be whitish. There are unisex female populations of the salamander in northern Wisconsin.

Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum)

The Spotted Salamander is named after the two rows of spots that run down its body. There can be two orange spots on the base of their head.

Eastern Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum)

The Eastern Tiger Salamander is found everywhere besides the northern part of the range. They are the largest terrestrial species in the range.

Plethodontidae – Lungless Salamander Family

Four toed Salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum)

The Four Toed Salamander has a reddish brown to brown coloration. On its belly, there are big black spots on a white surface. They are also the only terrestrial salamander with 4 toes on each foot. It is a species of special concern.

Red Backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus)

The Red-backed salamander can be identified by the stripe down its back. It can vary in color from gray, dark red, and bright red. It is found in the northern half of Wisconsin.

Salamandridae

Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)

The Eastern Newt has three distinct life stages. The terrestrial eft stage is bright red / orange in color and has spots on the sides. The larval and adult aquatic stages have a more neutral gray to yellow coloration. The Eastern Newt is found throughout the state.

Proteidae

The Mudpuppy is a fully aquatic species of salamander that keeps its gills into its adult life. They are found in large lakes and rivers.

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Rio Grande Leopard Frog (Rana berlandieri)

photo by William Flaxington

Common Name: Rio Grande Leopard Frog or the Mexican Leopard Frog
Scientific Name: Rana berlandieri
Family: Ranidae – True Frog family
Locations: Belize, Mexico, Nicaragua, and the United States
US Locations: New Mexico, and Texas
Introduced Locations: Arizona and California
Size: 2.2 – 4.4 inches (56 – 112 mm)

The Rio Grande Leopard Frog is a semi aquatic species of frog, often found along the edges of water bodies. They range in color from green, brown, and olive. Breeding can happen year round for the frogs in the warmer areas, but mostly in spring and then late summer / fall. The males of the species will call from the shoreline to attract the females. Once the female selects a mate, the two will embrace in the amplexus position and mate. Females lay between 500 to 1200 eggs.

The Rio Grande Leopard Frog has been accidentally introduced to the area around the California / Arizona border due to stocking of game fish. The tadpoles could have hid into the fish that gets dumped. The introduced frogs have been found with diseases such as Red Leg and Chytrid Fungus that could be introduced into native populations of frogs, and then potentially causing mass die offs. The frog is thought to have caused declines of the Lowland Leopard Frog in southeastern California.

The species epithet – berlandieri is in honor of Jean-Louis Berlandier, a naturalist who was part of one of the first biological surveys of Texas for the Mexico government.