Frog of the Week

Phantasmal Poison Frog (Epipedobates tricolor)

Phantasmal Poison Frog
Phantasmal Poison Frog – photo by Holger Krisp

Common Name: Phantasmal Poison Frog, Phantasmal Poison Arrow Frog
Scientific Name: Epipedobates tricolor
Family: Dendrobatidae – Poison Dart Frog family
Locations: Ecuador
Size: 0.9 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. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the frog as Vulnerable to Extinction. 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. If you are planning on buying one as a pet, make sure that it is captive bred. Also check out my guide on Preparing for a Pet Frog or Toad before purchasing.

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 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 stick with the eggs and protect them. Once the eggs hatch, the male parent moves the tadpoles to bodies of water on their back.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Frosted Flatwoods Salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum)

Frosted Flatwoods Salamander
photo by Todd Pierson

Common Name: Frosted Flatwoods Salamander
Scientific Name: Ambystoma cingulatum
Family: Ambystomatidae – Mole Salamander family
Locations: United States – Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina
Size: 3.5 – 5.3 inches (9-13.5 cm)

The Frosted Flatwoods Salamander is a medium sized salamander found in the coastal plains of the southeast United States. They are listed as a federally threatened species by the federal government. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the salamander as Vulnerable to Extinction. The longleaf pine-wiregrass flatwoods that the salamanders love our being cut down. To keep these salamanders from becoming extinct, we need to protect their habitats better.

All the Flatwoods Salamanders used to be one species before they were split apart, leaving the Frosted Flatwoods Salamander and the Reticulated Flatwoods Salamander (Ambystoma bishopi) as distinct species. The Reticulated Flatwoods Salamander is a federally endangered species.

photo by Todd Pierson

The Frosted Flatwoods Salamander is a fossorial species of salamander, spending most of their life underground or in burrows. They come to the surface to travel to wetlands to breed, some even traveling a mile away. Breeding takes place during the fall to winter (October to February) for the salamander. After mating, the females lay their eggs in a depression near a body of water. Once a rain starts, the eggs will hatch.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus)

Great Crested Newt
photo by Rainer Theuer
least concern

Common Name: Northern Crested Newt, Great Crested Newt, and Warty Newt
Scientific Name: Triturus cristatus
Family: Salamandridae
Locations: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom
Size: 6 inches (15.24 cm)

The Great Crested Newt is named after the crested that males grow during breeding season. The breeding season takes place during the spring to summer when the newts wake up from their hibernation. The newts move back to the ponds where they hatched to breed. The males will perform courtship rituals to try to attract a female to mate with. Females lay around 200 eggs during a breeding season. After breeding, the newts move back to land and the males lose their crests. They are often found under rocks and logs during this time.

photo by Maciej Bonk

While the Great Crested Newt is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, their populations are declining fast. The European Union has listed them as the protected species to help save them. The main reason for their decline is believed to be habitat loss due to development for urban areas.

Frog of the Week

Granular Poison Frog (Oophaga granulifera)

photo by Patrick Gijsbers

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. They are able to get away with being so visible to do their aposematic coloration that warn predators that they are poisonous. The males of the species are highly territorial in regards to their calling and breeding sites, even attacking other males. The frogs breed during the rainy season when the males will call out for the females. The females will then approach and the male leads her back to his breeding site. 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 then lay unfertilized eggs for the tadpoles to feed on. The genus Oophaga, which they are part of, translates to egg eaters due to this characteristic of their reproductive cycle.

The Granular Poison Frog is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List due to habitat destruction and habitat fragmentation. They live in humid lowland forests that are threatened by logging, agriculture, and expanding urbanization. Better protections in these areas are needed to protect these species.

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. They are sorta your typical toad. They spent their days hidden in rock crevices or under rocks but they come out at night to hunt. The toads can survive losing 40% of the bodies water.

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 tadpoles take one to two months to complete their metamorphism.

photo by William Flaxington

Males will arrive at the breeding sites first and will start to call. The male toads will wrestle each other over better breeding territory. Once a female selects a mate, the male will grasp the female from behind. The female will then lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The females lay on average around 1500 eggs. After mating, the toads part ways and provide no care for the offspring.

The Red-Spotted Toad hybridizes with a few different toads including the Western Toad, Great Plains Toad, Woodhouse’s Toad, and Sonoran Green Toad.

Frogs of the World

Blyth’s River Frog (Limnonectes blythii)

photo by Psumuseum

Common Name: Blyth’s River Frog, Giant Asian River Frog, or Blyth’s Wart Frog
Scientific Name: Limnonectes blythii
Family: Dicroglossidae
Location: Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam
Size: females can reach 10.2 inches (25.9 cm), while males only reach 4.9 inches (12.4 cm) long

The Blyth’s River Frog is the largest frog in all of Asia. Their large size has its downsides, as people over harvested them for food as they can weigh more than 2 pounds (.9 kg). It is one of the reason why they are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.┬áThe frogs also aren’t doing too hot due to logging activities in the region.

photo by Thai National Parks

The courtship behavior of Blyth’s River Frog is different than most frog species. Instead of males calling for the females, the females call. The male frogs completely lack a vocal sac. The male also creates a hollow in the stream for the females to lay their eggs. The males will then guard the eggs against predators that might try to eat them. The frogs are capable of breeding all year long.