Uncategorized

Plains Leopard Frog (Lithobates blairi)

plains leopard frog
photo by Don Becker

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

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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.

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.

 

Frog of the Week

River Frog (Lithobates heckscheri)

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photo from the USGS

least concern
Common Name: River Frog
Scientific Name: Lithobates heckscheri or 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.

Frog of the Week

Yellow Dyer Rainfrog (Diasporus citrinobapheus)

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photo by Hertz A, Hauenschild

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

The Yellow-Dyer Rainfrog is a recently discovered species, only being described in 2012. Very few individuals of the species have been found so it hasn’t been accessed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red list (IUCN). 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.

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

Reticulated Glass Frog (Hyalinobatrachium valerioi)

glassfrog
least concern
Common Name: Reticulated Glass Frog, Valerio’s Glass Frog, La Palma Glass Frog, and Ranita de Vidrio
Scientific Name: Hyalinobatrachium valerioi
Family: Centrolenidae – Glass Frog Family
Locations: Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Panama
Size: 1 inch

Like most Glass Frogs from the family Centrolenidae, the Reticulated Glass Frog is a highly arboreal species of frogs, rarely leaving the trees that are their home. They will even lay their eggs on leaves overhanging streams. Breeding for the Reticulated Glass Frog takes place during the wet season. Males will carve out territories and start calling. If another male enters the territory, the male will send out calls to tell the intruder to go away. If the intruder does not leave, a fight will break out that could lead to death. After mating, the female will lay around 30 eggs on the underside of leaves overhanging streams. She will then leave the eggs but the males will protect and guard them from enemies such as wasps. They will even pee on them to keep them moist. Parental care is not often seen in glass frogs.

The Reticulated Glass Frog can be found in the pet trade. They can be hard to take care of so you shouldn’t get one if you are a beginner to frogs. They are nocturnal so you won’t see them much during the day since they hide under leaves. No more than one male can be housed together at a time or they could fight and kill each other. The Reticulated Glass Frog doesn’t have the longest lifespan, averaging between 5-8 years in captivity, obviously with better care maybe longer. If you still want to buy one, make sure it is captive bred, to help protect wild ones. Also never release any pet frog into the wild if you can no longer take care of it.

Frog of the Week

Pig Frog (Lithobates grylio)

pig_frog_profile.jpg
photo by the USFWS

least concern
Common Name: Pig Frog
Scientific Name: Lithobates 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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