Frog of the Week

Phantasmal Poison Frog (Epipedobates tricolor)

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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.

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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)

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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.

Toad Tuesday

Coastal Plains Toad (Incilius nebulifer)

coastalplainstoad
photo by Kevin Young

least concern
Common Name: Coastal Plains Toad
Scientific Name: Incilius nebulifer
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad Family
Location: Mexico and the United States
US Locations: Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi
Size: 5 inches

The Coastal Plains Toad used to be part of the Gulf Coast Toad (Incilius valliceps) species but was split off due to genetic testing. It is still kinda confusing even though it happened over 20 years ago.

The spring and summer rains bring the males out to start calling to attract females. They will breed in a variety of still-water sources such as ponds, wetlands, and roadside ditches. Females can lay up to 20,000 eggs in a clutch and have been observed to lay two clutches in extended breeding seasons. Neither the male or female show any parental care towards the eggs. The eggs will hatch in a day or two and the tadpoles will complete metamorphosis in 20 to 30 days.

The Coastal Plains Toad has adapted alright to the urbanization of their habitat. They have been observed to hide under concrete slabs and in cracks and holes of sidewalks.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Varagua Caecilian (Gymnopis multiplicata)

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photo by Todd Pierson

least concern
Common Name: Varagua Caecilian
Scientific Name: Gymnopis multiplicata
Family: Dermophiidae
Locations: Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama
Size: 2 inches

Like most caecilian species, the Varagua Caecilian is a mysterious species of caecilian that not much is known about. They are a fossorial species, spending most of their time underground, even up to 3 meters deep. The Varagua Caecilian is thought to be viviparous, giving birth to live young. The offspring feed off the nutrient secretions from the mother after they use up the yolk while still inside of the mother. The offspring complete metamorphosis while still inside the mother. The mothers are pregnant for 11 months before giving birth.

 

 

Frog of the Week

Pig Frog (Rana grylio)

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photo by the USFWS

least concern
Common Name: Pig Frog
Scientific Name: Rana grylio
Family: Ranidae – True Frog Family
Locations: United States – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas
Introduced Locations: Bahamas, China, and Puerto Rico.
Size: 6.5 inches (165 mm)

The Pig Frog is named after the male’s mating call that sounds like a pig grunt. Like most frogs in North America, the Pig Frog breeds from early spring to late summer. Generally, the frog breeds in permanent bodies of water such as ponds, lakes, and swamps but have been known to breed in ephemeral ponds, streams, and roadside ditches. Females can lay up to 15,000 eggs during a breeding season. The Pig Frog is mostly aquatic, only coming to the edge of bodies of water.

Frog of the Week

Granular Poison Frog (Oophaga granulifera)

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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. 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.