Uncategorized

European Green Toad (Bufotes viridis)

euro_green_toad.jpg
photo by Umberto Salvagnin

Common Name: European Green Toad
Scientific Name: Bufotes viridis
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and the Ukraine
Size: 4.7 inches (120 mm)

The European Green Toad is a beautiful toad found in varies habitats throughout Europe including forests, steppes, and deserts. Like most toads, the Green Toad is mostly fossorial, spending their time burrowed underground. They are estimated to live as long as 10 years.

The European Green Toad can reproduce in a wide range of habitats, including ponds, swamps, stream pools, and lakes. Most toads and frogs can only breed in fresh water while the Green Toad can breed in fresh and brackish (slightly salty) water. The reproduction season is wide ranging from February to July depending on location. Males will call from the shallows to attract females. Males and females will pair up in amplexus position. The females will lay their eggs and males will then fertilize them. The females can live between 5,000 and 13,000 eggs.

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Uncategorized

Southern Torrent Salamander (Rhyacotriton variegatus)

Photo by James Bettaso, U.S. Fish & Wildlife service

Common Name: Southern Torrent Salamander
Scientific Name: Rhyacotriton variegatus
Family: Rhyacotritonidae – Torrent Salamander family
Locations: United States – California and Oregon
Size: Snout to Vent: 1.5 – 2.4 inches (41 – 62 mm) | Full Length: 3 – 4.5 inches ( 75 – 115 mm)

The Southern Torrent Salamander is found in and around cold, clears streams in old, growth conifer forests along the coast of Oregon and California. They have highly reduced lungs and use their skin to absorb oxygen. Cold water is high in oxygen, which makes it an ideal spot for the salamanders. The Southern Torrent Salamanders are threatened by the clear cutting of old growth forests and the draining of springs and seeps.

The reproductive season for the Southern Torrent Salamander is long, ranging from spring all the way to fall. All members of the family Rhyacotritonidae use internal fertilization. Peak egg laying time is in August and September. Only a few eggs are laid, between 4 to 16 eggs. The eggs take a long time to hatch, up to 8 months. The larval period is also long, as it can last more than 2 years.

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 described 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.

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.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Red Hills Salamander (Phaeognathus hubrichti)

Red Hills Salamander - Phaeognathus hubrichti
photo by  John P. Clare

Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Red Hills Salamander
Scientific Name: Phaeognathus hubrichti
Family: Plethodontidae – Lungless Salamander family
Locations: United States – Alabama
Size:  10.5 inches (27 cm)

The Red Hills Salamander is the state amphibian of Alabama, the only state it can be found in. More specifically, it can be found in the Red Hills region of southern Alabama, hence the name. They are a fossorial species of salamander, staying underground most of their life. Most of their life history is unknown due to them being fossorial.

What is known is that the Red Hills Salamander does not breed in water, but in their burrows. No mating displays or actually breeding as been observed. Females can lay around 6-16 eggs at a time. Its believed that the eggs hatch in around two months into tiny salamanders.

While the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list lists the salamander as endangered, the United States only lists them as threatened. Because of this, most of their land is privately owned by paper companies, that clear cut their habitat for the wood. Luckily, the Nature Conservatory bought almost 2,000 acres of land to protect the salamanders.

Other Amphibian of the Week

California Giant Salamander (Dicamptodon ensatus)

california_giant_salamander
photo by William Flaxington
nearthreatened


Common Name: California Giant Salamander
Scientific Name: Dicamptodon ensatus
Family: Dicamptodontidae – Pacific Giant Salamander Family
Locations: United States – California
Size: 6.7 – 12 inches (17 – 30.48 cm) for terrestrial forms, 13 inches (33.02 cm) for aquatic

The California Giant Salamander is found in northwestern coastal forests of California with cold streams and ponds. They use these streams to breed during the spring with most of the egg laying in May. Breeding could also occur in the fall. Between 70 to 100 eggs are laid in the streams. Larvae salamanders can take up to 2 years to develop into terrestrial adults if they ever do. There has been observed neotenic populations of the California Giant Salamanders. These neotenic salamanders retain their larval characteristics such as their gills but are capable of reproduction. These guys are often larger than the terrestrial forms.

Arie van der Meijden

The California Giant Salamander is listed as as Near Threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The main threats to the survival of the salamander is the encroachment of humans on their small habitat. Their habitat is great for logging but logging is not good for the salamanders. Also towns are growing and need more land. They just build right over their habitat.

tree frog thursday

Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona)

1570
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.

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.

Frog of the Week

Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas)

westerntoad.JPG
photo by Walter Siegmund

least concern
Common Name: Western Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus boreas
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: Canada, Mexico, and the United States
US Locations: Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming
Size: 2.2 – 5 inches (5.6 – 13 cm)

The Western Toad is found in western North America, from Alaska down to Baja California. There are two subspecies of the toad, the California Toad (A. b. halophilus) and the Boreal Toad (A. b. boreas). The California Toad is found in California (duh), northern Baja California, and western Nevada. The Boreal Toad is found in the northern parts of the range.

westerntoad
photo from USGS/Chris Brown

Some populations of the Western Toad are not doing so hot. Western Toads are listed in Colorado as an endangered species. They are listed as a protected species in Wyoming. Chytrid Fungus, a deadly pathogen, seems to be the main problem for the Western Toads. Habitat destruction is another problem for the toads.

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.