Frog of the Week

Green and Golden Bell Frog (Litoria aurea)

photo by LiquidGhoul

Common Name: Green and Golden Bell Frog
Scientific Name: Litoria aurea
Family: Hylidae – True Frog family
Locations: Australia
Introduced Locations: New Caledonia, New Zealand, and Vanuatu
Male Size: 2.2 – 2.7 inches (57 – 69 mm)
Female Size: 2.5 – 4.2 inches (65 – 108 mm)

While the Green and Golden Bell Frog is a member of the tree frog family, they are a semi-aquatic species of frog. They like to perch on vegetation around water. The frogs breed during summer time from October through March. Reproduction is pretty standard for these fellas. The males will call from the water and the female will select a mate. Then the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position and she will lay her eggs. The female frog lays between 3 – 10 thousand eggs. The male will then fertilize the eggs. Neither parent provides any care for their offspring.

The Green and Golden Bell Frog is naturally found along the southeastern coast of Australia but has expanded its range to other Pacific Islands including New Zealand. In New Zealand, they are found on the northern half of North Island. It’s hard to tell if these frogs are causing any problems in these new habitats.

The Green and Golden Bell Frog is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The frogs face a variety of threats. The wetlands that the frogs live in are being drained to make room for more houses. The Mosquito Fish (Gambusia holbrooki) has been introduced to the wetlands as well to control mosquito populations. Sadly, these fish also feed on tadpoles of frogs. Also Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) has been introduced to Australia and they can feed on adult frogs. Chytrid Fungus, a deadly fungal pathogen that is devasting frog populations around the world, has been found in the frogs. This is likely causing some declines in the species.

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Smooth Newt (Lissotriton vulgaris)

photo by John Beniston

Common Name: Smooth Newt
Scientific Name: Lissotriton vulgaris
Family: Salamandridae
Locations: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and United Kingdom
Introduced Locations Australia
Size: 3.9 inches (10 cm)

The Smooth Newt is one of the most common amphibians found throughout temperate, forest areas in Europe. They are mostly terrestrial, only staying in water for extended periods of time during breeding season. They are also nocturnal, spending their days under logs and rocks. The newts do come out during rains during the day.

The Smooth Newt reproduces after the newt wake up from hibernation. The males and females move to ponds to breed. The males will grow out a wavy crest on their back to impress the females. The male will do a courtship dance to attract females. The males will deposit a sperm packet in the water and will lead a female over it during the courtship. The female will pick it up with her cloaca and bring it inside her to fertilize her eggs. A few days layer, the female will lay her eggs, as many as 300. Eggs hatch a few weeks later and larvae will appear. The larvae take a few months to complete their metamorphism, but some individuals may take over a year. These individuals will then have to survive in the water over winter.

In Australia, the Smooth Newt has established populations in the wild. It is believed the newts were released into the wild from a pet owner who didn’t want them anymore. Never do that please. Currently, it is not known if the newt is causing any serious environmental problems so the Australian Government isn’t actively trying to prevent their spread or eliminate them.

Frog of the Week

Marsh Frog (Pelophylax ridibundus)

photo by Charles J Sharp

Common Name: Marsh Frog
Scientific Name: Pelophylax ridibundus
Family: Ranidae – True Frog Family
Locations: Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Islamic Republic of, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine.
Introduced Locations: Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom
Female Size: 6.7 inches (17 cm)
Male Size: 4.7 inches (12 cm)

The Marsh Frog is the largest frog native to Europe. Its found around the edges of rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams. They rarely ever move away from these shores. The frogs will start to breed at the beginning of spring. Like most frogs, the male Marsh Frogs will call to the female frogs from the shallows of the water. Once the female selects a mate, the male frog will grasp her from behind. The female will then lay her eggs and the male will then fertilize them. The female can lay between 670-13,000 eggs. Neither parent will provide any care for their offspring.

Marsh Frogs were introduced to Kent, England in the 1930s. Other populations of the frog have popped up in western London and the southwestern part of the country. Due to their size, they prey on native wildlife, potentially having problematic effects on the native populations. The frogs could also be spreading chytrid fungus, a deadly pathogen, around the country.

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Invasive Species Week

It is National Invasive Species Week! The week was created to raise awareness for the problems that invasive species create. What is an invasive species? It is a non-native living organism that has been introduced to a new environment by humans that is likely to cause economic harm, environmental harm or harm to human health. Invasive species can be fish, plants, insects, fungus, bacteria, and everything in between.

This week I will highlight invasive species that are causing problems, mostly for amphibians, here and on my social media accounts. Please stay tuned for more!

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Pacific Tree Frog (Pseudacris regilla)

photo by The High Fin Sperm Whale 

Common Name: Pacific Tree Frog, Pacific Chorus Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudacris regilla or Hyliola regilla
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: Canada, Mexico, and the United States
US Locations: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington
Size: .75 – 2 inches (19 – 50 mm)

Breeding for the frogs happen from November to July with frogs in higher elevations breeding later in the year. The male frogs will come to permanent or non-permanent waters bodies to start calling. The male frog’s breeding call is the typical ribbit that you hear on tv.

The males will highly territorial and will fight other males over breeding areas. Once the female comes and selects a mate, the male will grab her back in amplexus. The female will then lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The female will lay between 400 – 750 eggs at a time. Neither parent will provide any care for their offspring. The eggs hatch in 2 to 3 weeks. The tadpoles take 3 months to complete their transformation.

The Pacific Tree Frog was recently split into 3 different species based on DNA, but the analysis wasn’t great and it was merged back together.

The Pacific Tree Frog is the State Frog of Washington

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California Tree Frog (Pseudacris cadaverina)

photo by Chris Brown / USGS

Common Name: California Tree Frog or California Chorus Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudacris cadaverina or Hyliola cadaverina
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: Mexico and the United States (California)
Male Size: 1.4 inches (36 mm)
Female Size: 1.8 inches (45 mm)

The California Tree Frog can be called the California Chorus Frog due to them being placed in the Chorus Frog genus – Pseudacris. Researchers have proposed moving the frog into the genus Hyliola along with the Pacific Chorus Frog. They are more similar to other Chorus Frogs, in that they aren’t found high in the trees. These frogs like to live in crevices or cavities in boulders along streams. The frogs blend into these boulders with their rough skin and gray / brown color.

Breeding takes place in the streams from February to October. Reproduction for the California Tree Frog is pretty standard. Males will call from the streams to attract potential mates. Once the female selects the mate, the male will grasp her from behind in amplexus. The female then lay her eggs and the male then fertilizes them. Neither parent provide any care for their offspring. The larval period for the tadpoles ranges from 40 – 75 days.

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Sonoran Green Toad (Anaxyrus retiformis)

photo by William Flaxington

Common Name: Sonoran Green Toad, Pima Green Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus retiformis
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad Family
Locations: Mexico and the United States
US Locations: Arizona
Size: 1.5 – 2 inches (40 – 49 mm)

The Sonoran Green Toad is known for their yellow / green spots on the dark black background. The toad has lived over 15 years in captivity, which is relatively long for a toad. They are a highly fossorial frog, spending most of their days underground.

Once the summer rains come, the male Sonoran Green Toad comes to temporary filled pools to breed. The males will start to call from grass surrounding the pools to attract females. They are known as explosive breeders due to them only mating for a few days compared to weeks like other frogs. The females will carry the male from the grasses to the water where the females will lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The two toads will then part ways and provide no care for the offspring. Females will lay between 5 to 200 eggs. The eggs will hatch into tadpoles in 2 – 3 days. Then, the tadpoles take 2 to 3 weeks to complete their metamorphosis.

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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Canadian Toad (Anaxyrus hemiophrys)

Canadian_Toad_-Anaxyrus_hemiophrys
Canadian Toad – photo by ceasol

Common Name: Canadian Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus hemiophrys
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad Family
Locations: Canada and the United States
US Locations: Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming
Size: 1 1/2-3 1/4 inches (3.7-8.3 cm)

The Canadian Toad is more aquatic than most toad species in North America. They can be found in or near prairie wetlands. For the winter, the Canadian Toad can burrow below the frost line. They also overwinter within mima mounds, small earth mounds. These mounds can hold hundreds of toads at a time.

The Canadian Toad breeds from May to July depending on the location. They breed in shallow areas of water such as lakes, ponds, and temporary bodies of water. They lay several thousand eggs that hatch in 3 to 12 days. The tadpoles take 6 to 8 weeks to turn into full toads.

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Plains Leopard Frog (Rana blairi)

plains leopard frog
photo by Don Becker

least concern
Common Name: Plains Leopard Frog or Blair’s Leopard Frog
Scientific Name: Rana 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 (Rana 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..