Frog of the Week

Holy Cross Frog (Notaden bennettii)

Holy Cross Frog
photo by wikiuser Tnarg 12345

Common Name: Holy Cross Frog, Crucifix Frog, and Crucifix Toad
Scientific Name: Notaden bennettii
Family: Myobatrachidae – Australian Ground Frog family
Locations: Australia
Size: 2.7 inches (6.8 cm)

The Holy Cross Frog is a fossorial species of frog found in the ┬áblack soil plains and semi-arid grassland regions of western New South Wales and Queensland. During the dry times, the frog burrows down in the ground and surrounds itself in a cocoon to preserve water. They are capable of digging down almost 10 feet (3 meters)! Due to their fossorial lifestyle, the frogs feed primarily on ants and termites. When threatened by predators, the frogs produce a sticky, glue-like substance that predators don’t want to eat. It is advised to wash your hands after handling the Holy Cross Frog and basically any frog.

Once the heavy rains come, the frog will emerge from the ground, ready to breed. The male frogs will move to temporary ponds created by the rains and start to call out to females. The call sounds like a woo. Once the female arrives at the pond, the male glues himself to her back due to his smaller size. Next, the female lays her eggs and the male will fertilize them. Neither parents provide any parental care for their offspring.

Holy Cross Frog
photo by flickr user eyeweed

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Holy Cross Frog as Least Concern for Extinction. The only threats to the species are habitat loss due to farming, climate change, and the introduction of the invasive Cane Toad (Rhinella marina). Researchers have been trying to get the frogs to breed in captivity just in case but have been struggling. Surprisingly, the answer to this problem was a Youtube Clip of a thunderstorm. This clip helps simulate heavy rain storms that gets the frogs in the mood.

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Crab-eating Frog (Fejervarya cancrivora)

photo by W.A. Djatmiko

Common Name: Crab-eating Frog, Mangrove Frog, Asian Brackish Frog, and Crab-eating Grassfrog
Scientific Name: Fejervarya cancrivora
Family: Dicroglossidae – Forked Tongued Frog family
Locations:  Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Introduced Locations: Guam and Papua New Guinea
Size: 3.1 inches (80 mm) for females, 2.75 inches (70 mm) for males

The Crab-eating Frog is thought to be the most salt tolerant amphibians in the entire world. They are able to survive in brackish waters for extended periods of time and briefly survive swimming in salt water. With this species talent, they are able to feast upon crabs and other small crustaceans, hence their name. They are found along the shorelines, mangrove forests, and inland wetlands.

Reproduction for the frogs is pretty standard. They can breed year round but most activity is at the start of the wet season. At the start, the males will call for the females from a water body. Once the female arrives, the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus positiion. Then, female will lay her eggs and the male will then fertilize them. Neither parent will provide any parental care for the offspring. The eggs will hatch into tadpoles that transform later into frogs.

The Crab-Eating Frog is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as Least Concern of becoming Extinct. The frog has a wide range and is plentiful throughout it. They especially thrive in rice paddy fields. Potential threats to the survive of the frogs is the habitat destruction and over harvesting the frogs for food.

Frog of the Week

Hurter’s Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus hurterii)

Common Name: Hurter’s Spadefoot Toad
Scientific Name: Scaphiopus hurterii
Family: Scaphiopodidae – American Spadefoot Toad family
Locations: United States and Mexico
US Locations: Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma
Size: 1.75 – 3.25 inches (4.4 – 8.3 cm)

The Hurter’s Spadefoot Toad is named after naturalist Julius Hurter, former curator of the St. Louis Academy of Science. They were once considered a subspecies of the Eastern Spadefoot Toad but was moved to being a full species. Like all Spadefoot Toads, the Hurter’s Spadefoot Toad is mostly fossorial, spending most of its time in burrows underground. They have keratonized sheaths on their rear feet that they use to help dig. Spadefoot toads can be distinguished from other groups of toads due to their vertical, cat-like eyes.

The easiest time to find a Hurter’s Spadefoot Toad is during the breeding season from late spring into summer. They breed following heavy storms that fill up temporary pools of water. Mating only lasts a day or two so you need to get out there quick. The males will call out from the shallows of the pools to attract a mate. Once the mate arrives, the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female will lay her eggs and then the male will fertilize. Neither parent provides any care for the offspring.The eggs hatch in 48 hours and the tadpoles complete their metamorphosis in two weeks. This is due to the limit time they have before the pond dries up. Surprisingly, the tadpoles will eat each other if there isn’t enough food in the ponds.

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How to Help Stop Invasive Species

With the spread of invasive species, you have to wonder what can I do to help stop them? I will help answer this today.

Clean Your Boots / Shoes / Hiking Gear

Invasive species can hitchhike around the world on your gear and shoes. It is thought that Chytrid Fungus, a deadly disease that is killing off many frog species, is thought to have been moved around from researchers not cleaning their shoes / gear off between field trips. Cleaning off your gear and shoes can help stop invasive species. Also washing your dog off after hiking helps stop the spread of invasive species.

Clean Your Boat

Once again, invasive species, such as Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) and Eurasian Watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), can hitchhike from lake to lake on your boat. Cleaning the outside of your boat when you take it out of the water and draining all the water out is needed to help stop the spread.

Don’t Release Your Pets into the Wild

This is probably the easiest way to stop the spread of invasive species is to not release them into the wild. Some pet species, such as the Red Lion Fish (Pterois volitans) or the Burmese Python (Python bivittatus), have overtaken native populations of animals and are causing population declines. This is why it is very important to not release your pets.

Don’t Move Firewood

Invasive species, such as the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis), can hide in firewood and be transported into a new environment. Please buy firewood close to your campsites to help stop the spread.

Join an Invasive Species Removal Event

Sometimes you gotta roll up your sleeves and take the trash out yourself. Nature Centers often host invasive species removal events that you can volunteer at. They will help you learn how to identify invasive species and how to remove them properly. You can then take this knowledge with you back to your home.

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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!