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Little Grass Frog (Pseudacris ocularis)

photo by Todd Pierson

Common Name: Little Grass Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudacris ocularis
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: United States – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia
Size: .4 – .7 inches (11 – 20 mm)

The Little Grass Frog is the smallest frog in all of North America. While it is technically in the Tree Frog family – Hylidae, they are not as arboreal as other species of tree frogs. They can still climb up to 5 feet high.

Breeding takes place for the Little Grass Frog from January to September in most of their range but in Florida, they can breed all year long. Breeding generally follows heavy rain events. They lay their eggs in shallow, rain-filled wetlands, ditches, and ponds. Reproduction is pretty standard for the frog. Males will call out from the rain-filled areas, trying to attract females. Females will select a male and then they will mate. The females lay around 100 eggs. How do these females carry all those eggs at their small size? I don’t know. Neither of the parents will perform any care for their offspring.

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European Green Toad (Bufotes viridis)

euro_green_toad.jpg
photo by Umberto Salvagnin

Common Name: European Green Toad
Scientific Name: Bufotes viridis
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and the Ukraine
Size: 4.7 inches (120 mm)

The European Green Toad is a beautiful toad found in varies habitats throughout Europe including forests, steppes, and deserts. Like most toads, the Green Toad is mostly fossorial, spending their time burrowed underground. They are estimated to live as long as 10 years.

The European Green Toad can reproduce in a wide range of habitats, including ponds, swamps, stream pools, and lakes. Most toads and frogs can only breed in fresh water while the Green Toad can breed in fresh and brackish (slightly salty) water. The reproduction season is wide ranging from February to July depending on location. Males will call from the shallows to attract females. Males and females will pair up in amplexus position. The females will lay their eggs and males will then fertilize them. The females can live between 5,000 and 13,000 eggs.

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Southern Torrent Salamander (Rhyacotriton variegatus)

Photo by James Bettaso, U.S. Fish & Wildlife service

Common Name: Southern Torrent Salamander
Scientific Name: Rhyacotriton variegatus
Family: Rhyacotritonidae – Torrent Salamander family
Locations: United States – California and Oregon
Size: Snout to Vent: 1.5 – 2.4 inches (41 – 62 mm) | Full Length: 3 – 4.5 inches ( 75 – 115 mm)

The Southern Torrent Salamander is found in and around cold, clears streams in old, growth conifer forests along the coast of Oregon and California. They have highly reduced lungs and use their skin to absorb oxygen. Cold water is high in oxygen, which makes it an ideal spot for the salamanders. The Southern Torrent Salamanders are threatened by the clear cutting of old growth forests and the draining of springs and seeps.

The reproductive season for the Southern Torrent Salamander is long, ranging from spring all the way to fall. All members of the family Rhyacotritonidae use internal fertilization. Peak egg laying time is in August and September. Only a few eggs are laid, between 4 to 16 eggs. The eggs take a long time to hatch, up to 8 months. The larval period is also long, as it can last more than 2 years.

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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.

Frog of the Week

Phantasmal Poison Frog (Epipedobates tricolor)

phantasmal
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.

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)

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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.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Frosted Flatwoods Salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum)

frostwoods
photo by Todd Pierson

vulnerable
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 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.

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.

Frog of the Week

River Frog (Rana heckscheri)

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photo from the USGS

least concern
Common Name: River Frog
Scientific Name: Rana (Aquarana) heckscheri
Family: Ranidae – True Frog family
Locations: United States – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina
Introduced Location: China
Size: 3.5 – 6 inches (90 – 155 mm)

The River Frog is found in the southeast United States but has slowly disappearing along the edges of the range, including totally from North Carolina and Alabama. The main reason for the decline is believed to be from habitat loss.

The River Frog produces toxins that are harmful to some predators including Indigo Snakes (Drymarchon) and water snakes. After eating the frog, these predators will throw up the frog and then wipe its mouth on the ground afterwords. They seem to be harmless to humans and are relatively easy to catch compared to other frogs. I wouldn’t try eating them though.

Breeding for the frog takes place from April to August, if conditions are right. They mate in permanent bodies of water due to tadpoles taking over a year to undergo metamorphosis. The tadpoles will remain active during winter.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Dwarf Waterdog (Necturus punctatus)

waterdog
photo by Todd Pierson

least concern
Common Name: Dwarf Waterdog
Scientific Name: Necturus punctatus
Family: Proteidae
Locations: United States – Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia
Size: 7.5 inches

The Dwarf Waterdog is the smallest species of genus Necturus. Like all members of the species, they are aquatic and keep their gills throughout their life. Not much is known about the reproductive behaviors of the waterdog but it is believed they mate in winter. The eggs are later laid in spring from March to May. The females lay around 15 to 50 eggs. Nothing is known about nesting sites, how long it takes the eggs to hatch, or any courtship behaviors.