Frog of the Week

River Frog (Rana heckscheri)

River Frog
photo from the USGS
least concern


Common Name: River Frog
Scientific Name: Rana heckscheri
Family: Ranidae – True Frog family
Locations: United States – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina
Introduced Location: China
Male Size: 3.5 – 4.7 inches (90 – 120 mm)
Female Size: 5.1 – 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. They haven’t been seen in North Carolina since 1975. The main reason for the decline is believed to be from habitat loss. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List still lists them as Least Concern though. They are a nocturnal species, mostly being found at night.

The River Frog produces toxins that are harmful to some predators including Indigo Snakes (Drymarchon) and Water Snakes (Nerodia). 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.

River Frog
photo by Todd Pierson

Reproduction

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 males will come to the water and start calling. Once the females arrive, the male will grasp them from behind in the amplexus pose. After, the female will lay her eggs and the male will then fertilize them. Th female can lay between 6000 – 8000 eggs at a time. The eggs hatch between 3 – 15 days. The tadpoles will remain active during winter and will generally complete their metamorphism in the spring. Tadpoles can take over 2 years to complete their metamorphism.

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Frog of the Week

Yellow Dyer Rainfrog (Diasporus citrinobapheus)

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photo by Hertz A, Hauenschild

Common Name: Yellow Dyer Rainfrog or Yellow Dink Frog
Scientific Name: Diasporus citrinobapheus
Family: Eleutherodactylidae
Locations: Panama
Size: 17.3–19.7 mm

The Yellow-Dyer Rainfrog is a relatively new species of frogs to scientists, only being described in 2012. It gets its name from the fact that when you handle the frog, it dyes your fingers yellow.

As with all Eleutherodactylid species, the Yellow Dyer Rainfrog skips the tadpole stage and just immediately hatches from its egg as a small frog.

Frog of the Week

Southern Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog (Rana muscosa)

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photo by Chris Brown (USGS)
Conservation status is Endangered


Common Name: Southern Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog
Scientific Name: Rana muscosa
Family: Ranidae – True Frog family
Locations: United States – California
Size: 2 – 3 inches (5 – 7.6 cm)

The Southern Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog is a federally listed endangered species by the United States. They live in only few small areas in southeastern California near the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It was not always like this. They used to be a common species before they started to disappear.

There are many reasons for the declines. Trout was introduced into the Sierra Nevada Mountains to increase recreational fishing there. These non-native trouts eat on the tadpoles of the frog as they are predators. Studies shown that removing trouts from lakes in the Southern Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog’s habitat allows the frog repopulate the area and increase numbers.

photo by William Flaxington

Another key reason for the population decline of the Southern Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog is the introduction of Chytrid Fungus into their environment. Chytrid Fungus is a deadly pathogen that thickens the skin of the frog. The thicker skin prevents the ability of the frog to breathe and drink through its skin and eventually causes death. The disease has lead to widespread deaths of amphibians all over the world. Sadly, it has also affected the Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog. Those are the two main reasons for the decline but other reasons include pesticides, climate change, habitat degradation and fragmentation, and drought.

Luckily, zoos are trying to help the species. The San Diego Zoo has been captive breeding the Southern Mountain Yellow-legged Frog and releasing the tadpoles into the wild. The Oakland Zoo and the San Francisco Zoo have been catching juvenile frogs and raising them in captivity. They give the frogs anti-fungal baths and when they are older, they release them.

tree frog thursday

Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona)

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Mountain Chorus Frog  – photo by Todd Pierson

least concern
Common Name: Mountain Chorus Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudacris brachyphona
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: United States – Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania
Size: 1.25 inches

The Mountain Chorus Frog is found in and around the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States. The frog starts breeding when they wake up from their hibernation generally around late February and early March. The males call sounds like reeking sound. Females can lay 300 to 1500 eggs in a clutch. No parental care has been reported in the Mountain Chorus Frog. The eggs hatch in 7-10 days and the tadpoles undergo metamorphosis in a month or two. The Mountain Chorus Frog is a terrestrial species of tree frog. They spend most of their time on the ground.

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.

New Species

New Species and Genus from the Western Ghats of India

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A new species of frog was discovered in the Western Ghats of India. The Western Ghats is an incredible place to go frogging. There are three known families of frogs that are only found there and hundreds of different species of frogs. Not only was this new species discovered, it has been put into a new genus by itself and its own new subfamily.

Researchers decided on the common name  of the new frog as the Starry Dwarf Frog (Astrobatrachus kurichiyana) after the light spots on their body that resemble stars. The genus name also reflects that stars,  astro meaning star in Greek and batrachus meaning frog. The species epithet, Kurichiyana, is the name of the local tribal community living near the frogs. The Starry Dwarf Frog is a member of the family Nyctibatrachidae, a fairly new family. The family is only found in India and Sri Lanka. The new subfamily is named Astrobatrachinae.

The conservation status of the frog is currently unknown. Not much really is known about the Starry Dwarf Frog. What is known is that it is mainly terrestrial and nocturnal.  They are a small species of frogs, only growing to an inch long.

Read the full scientific article at https://peerj.com/articles/6457/

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Frog of the Week

Marbled Balloon Frog (Uperodon systoma)

balloon frog.jpg
photo by Gihan Jayaweera

least concern
Common Name: Marbled Balloon Frog
Scientific Name: Uperodon systoma
Family: Microhylidae
Locations: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
Size: 2.5 inches

The Marbled Balloon Frog spends most of its life underground, only coming to the surface during the summer monsoons from May to July. They have powerful hind legs, that help them burrow deep in the ground. One frog had been found over 3 feet deep. The frog lacks any teeth, due to their diet of mainly termites and ants.

Uncategorized

Cope’s Gray Tree Frog (Hyla chrysoscelis)

Gray Tree Frog
least concern



Common Name: Cope’s Gray Tree Frog
Scientific Name: Hyla chrysoscelis
Family: Hylidae  – Tree Frog family
Locations: United States and Canada
US Locations: Alabama, Arkansas, Washington D.C., Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and West Virginia
Size: 2 inches (5 cm)

The Cope’s Gray Tree Frog is almost identical to the Eastern Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor) besides their calls and chromosome count. Their chromosomes are diploid, having two sets. While, the Eastern Gray Tree Frog is tetraploid, having twice as many. The frogs can produce mucous secretions that are slightly toxic. Always wash your hands after handling any animal.

The frog is named after Edward Drinker Cope, the man who first described the frog to western science. Cope described a lot of different species, over a thousand living and extinct species. While the frog is named after its gray coloration, it can also be green in color.

Reproduction

The breeding season for the Cope’s Gray Tree Frog is from March to August. In the southern parts of the range, they begin to breed earlier than in the northern parts. During the season, the males descend from the trees to pools of water. They prefer fish-less bodies of water. They will call from the shallows of the water to attract the females. Once the female arrives, the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female will lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The female can lay between 1000 – 2000 eggs at a time in clutches of 20 – 40. Neither of the parents provide any parental care. The eggs hatch in a week or less. Development time is affected by temperature. Therefore, it can take the tadpoles between a month or two to complete their metamorphism.

Frog of the Week

Crawfish Frog (Rana areolatus)

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photo by Todd Pierson

nearthreatened
Common Name: Crawfish Frog
Scientific Name: Rana areolatus
Family: Ranidae – True Frogs
Locations: United States – Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas
Size: 4.4 inches (113 mm) long for females, 4.1 inches (105 mm) long for males

The Crawfish Frog is named after the fact that they live in the holes of crawfish. They use the holes for protection from predators. In the northern part of their range, they use them to get below the frost line to prevent them from freezing to death.

Breeding occurs from January to May following rain fall. In the northern parts of their range, they breed later from late February to May while frogs in the southern parts of their range breed from January to April. After the rains fall and temporary ponds of water are formed by the rain, the male Crawfish Frogs migrate to these ponds and start calling. Female frogs follow shortly after. Crawfish Frogs are explosive breeders with most of the mating happening right away at the start of the season.

One noticeable characteristic of the male Crawfish Frog is their lateral vocal sacs which is not often seen in frogs in the US.

There are two sub species of the Crawfish Frog, the Northern (Rana a. circulosa) and Southern (Rana a. areolata).

Frog of the Week

Lowland Burrowing Tree Frog (Smilisca fodiens)

Lowland Burrowing Tree Frog
photo by Rafael Alejandro Calzada-Arciniega
least concern


Common Name: Lowland Burrowing Tree Frog or Northern Casquehead Frog
Scientific Name: Smilisca fodiens
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: Mexico and the United States
US Location: Arizona
Size: 2.5 inches (6.35 cm)

The Lowland Burrowing Tree Frog is not your typical tree frog, it is not usually found living in the trees, it usually lives in burrows. It lives in the desert so the they need to keep moist. The burrows they live in are very moist. If the moisture leaves during periods of drought, the frogs can create a cocoon out of their outer skin to help keep them moist. After the rains come and the frog doesn’t need the cocoon anymore, the frog will break out and then eat the cocoon.

Following the summer rains in June through August, the Lowland Burrowing Tree Frog starts to breed. The males of the species gather in temporary pool created by the rain and start to call for the females.