Frog of the Week

Golfodulcean Poison Dart Frog (Phyllobates vittatus)

Golfodulcean Poison Dart Frog

Common Name: Golfodulcean Poison Dart Frog or Golfo Dulce Poison Dart Frog
Scientific Name: Phyllobates vittatus
Family: Dendrobatidae – Poison Dart Frog family
Locations: Costa Rica
Size: females up to 1.2 inches (31 mm); male up to 1 inches (26 mm)

The Golfodulcean Poison Dart Frog lives in the Golfo Dulce region of southwestern Costa Rica. They are a diurnal species of frog, active during the day. Their colors warn predators that the frogs are poisonous. Just like most Poison Dart Frogs, they accumulate their poison from the ants they eat. Therefore, in captivity, the frogs lose their toxins. They are common in the pet trade. If you are thinking about getting a pet frog, make sure to read my article Preparing for a Pet Frog or Toad. Its very informative.

Females are able to lay a clutch of eggs every week or two. The clutches usually contain between 7 to 21 eggs. The female lays her clutches on leaves of plants and the male watches over them. He will even pee on the eggs to keep them from drying out. Once the eggs hatch, the male carries the tadpoles on his back to small ponds for them to develop further.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Golfodulcean Poison Dart Frog as Vulnerable to Extinction. They live in a small, severly fragmented area. Their habitat area is threatened by deforestation to make room for agriculture and tree plantations. Also, gold mining threatens their water.

Frog of the Week

White-lipped Thin-Toed Frog (Leptodactylus fragilis)

White-lipped Thin-Toed Frog
photo by Esteban Alzate
leastconcern


Common Name: White-lipped Thin-Toed Frog, Mexican White-Lipped Frog, and American White-Lipped Frog
Scientific Name: Leptodactylus fragilis
Family: Leptodactylidae
Location: United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Venezuela
US Locations: Texas
Introduced Locations: Cuba
Size: 1.2 – 2 inches (3 – 5 cm)

The White-lipped Thin-Toed Frog lives in a variety of habitats from savannahs to montane tropical forests. The frogs are often referred to as the Mexican White-Lipped Frog but they are found in a lot more places than just Mexico. Therefore, the name isn’t really fitting imo. The frogs feed on invertebrates such as spiders and beetles, mainly during the night, making them nocturnal.

The White-lipped Thin-Toed Frog breeds in spring following heavy rains. The males dig out a breeding spot under rocks or logs for mating. Next, he calls out for females in hopes of finding a mate. Once he finds the mate, he grasps her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the male and female create a foamy nest made out of their secretions to house the eggs. The female lays between 20 and 250 egg. Neither parent provides any further care for the offspring. The nest keeps the eggs from drying out until the rains arrive. The rains fill the burrow and break the tadpoles out of the eggs. Then, the tadpoles taken under a month to turn into frogs.

White-lipped Thin-toed Frog Conservation

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the White-lipped Thin-Toed Frog as Least Concern for Extinction. They have a wide range, reaching from the top of Texas down into the northern parts of South America. The frogs are also thought to be abundant throughout the range.

Recently, scientists discovered the frog in Cuba, a place where they are not naturally found. Scientists and conservationists are worried about the effects these frogs can have on the native wildlife and frog populations of Cuba. Researchers believe that the frog can become invasive in Cuba if left unchecked.

Frog of the Week

European Tree Frog (Hyla arborea)

European Tree Frog
photo by Christian Fischer
least concern

Common Name: European Tree Frog
Scientific Name: Hyla arborea
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog Family
Location: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and Ukraine.
Introduced Location: United Kingdom
Male Size: 1.3–1.7 inches (32 – 43 mm)
Female Size: 1.6 – 2.0 inches (40 – 50 mm)

The European Tree Frog lives throughout most of Europe and down to the northern parts of the Middle East. They prefer to live in broad-leafed and mixed forests, bushlands, meadows, and shrubland. The frogs vary in color from green, gray, brown, and yellowish.

Mating occurs between March and June. First, the males move to ponds, lakes, and other stagnant water bodies and start calling. Once a female arrives, the male grasps her from behind in amplexus. Then, the female lays her eggs and the male fertilizes them. The female lays between 200 – 2000 eggs. Neither parent provides any parental care. The eggs hatch into tadpoles in 10 – 14 days after being laid. Then, the tadpoles usually complete their metamorphosis in 3 months, peaking in July.

European Tree Frog
photo by wikiuser RobertC1301

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes he European Tree Frog as Least Concern for Extinction. They have a wide range and are thought to be abundant throughout it. There are local population declines due to habitat loss from destroying forests to make room for urban development.

Frog of the Week

Japanese Common Toad (Bufo japonicus)

Japanese Common Toad
photo by Yasunori Koide 

Common Name: Japanese Common Toad
Scientific Name: Bufo japonicus
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: Japan
Size: 3.1 – 6.9 inches (80 – 176 mm)

The Japanese Common Toad lives on the islands of Kyusyu, Shikoku, Hokkaido, and Honshu of Japan. They have also been introduced to the island of Izu Oshima. Additionally, they live in a wide range of habitats from coastal areas to high in the mountains. The toads vary in color from a dark green, yellowish brown, to dark brown. Like most toads, they are active during the night and hide during the day.

Two subspecies of the toads are recognized by some researchers. The subspecies are the Eastern Japanese Common Toad (Bufo japonicus formosus) and the Western Japanese Common Toad (Bufo japonicus japonicus). The western subspecies is slightly larger than the eastern.

Mating

The breeding season for the toads is late winter / early spring from February to March. The toads migrate to ponds and swamps to breed. They use odor cues to find their way to these water bodies. In the pond, the males outnumber the females, leading to fighting and scrambling for a mate. The males try to grasp the females from behind in the amplexus position. Next, the female starts to lay her eggs. The females lay between 1,500-14,000 eggs. Then, the male fertilizes the eggs. Neither parent provides any care for their offspring. The eggs hatch into tadpoles shortly after. Then, the tadpoles complete their metamorphosis in June.

Conservation for the Japanese Common Toad

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Japanese Common Toad as Least Concern for Extinction. The species populations are decreasing but not at an alarming rate. The main cause of the declines is habitat loss from the urbanization of their land.

New Species

New Species of Salamander from North Carolina – Carolina Sandhills Salamander

Carolina Sandhills Salamander
Carolina Sandhills Salamander (Eurycea arenicola) – photo by L Todd Pusser

North Carolina is home to the most salamander species in the United States, a whopping 63 species! Now, thanks to researchers, the number moves up to 64! The southeastern United States, especially the Appalachian Mountain, is the salamander capitol of the world.

This discovery was 50 years in the making. An unusual salamander species was brought to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Originally, it was thought to be a weird Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera). More specimens were collected and curator Alvin Braswell thought it could be a new species. Sadly, he was too busy to pursue the research.

Southern Two-lined Salamander – photo by wikiuser Hargle

In comes Bryan Stuart, research curator of herpetology, who join the museum in 2008. Braswell told him of the salamander and wanted him to research it. Stuart was able to use next generation sequencer to determine that the species was new. He formally described the species as the Carolina Sandhills Salamander (Eurycea arenicola). The salamander is found near the seepages, springs and streams of the Sandhills of North Carolina. The Carolina Sandhills Salamander is red to orange in color. They don’t have a the dark band on its side like the Southern Two-lined Salamander do. These salamanders are pretty small ranging from 2.2 – 3.5 inches (56. -89.1 mm) from snout to tail.

You can read the full paper at https://bioone.org/journals/herpetologica/volume-76/issue-4/0018-0831-76.4.423/A-New-Two-Lined-Salamander-Eurycea-bislineata-Complex-from-the/10.1655/0018-0831-76.4.423.short

croctober

American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus)

American Crocodile
photo by wikiuser Mattstone911

Common Name: American Crocodile
Scientific Name: Crocodylus acutus
Family: Crocodylidae – Crocodile Family
Locations: Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, United States, Venezuela, and Bolivia
US Location: Florida
Average Male Size: 9.5 – 13.1 feet (2.9 – 4 meters)
Average Female Size: 8.2 – 9.8 feet (2.5 -3 meters)
Maximum Size: 20 feet (6.1 meters)

The American Crocodile has the most widespread range of any crocodile in the Americas. They reach from southern Florida, through Central America, and down to northern South America. They live in fresh or brackish water of estuaries, lagoons, and mangrove swamps.

The American Crocodile breeds during the dry season. The males are highly territorial and fight other males for the best land. The courtship and breeding takes place in the water. The male’s main advertisement to females is 1 to 3 headslaps. If this is acceptable for the female, then she either puts her head on his back / head or performs some snout lifts. Next, the male lets out a low frequency noise that makes water blow up off of his back, called water dancing. Finally, the two mate in the shallows.

The female builds their nests on elevated, well drained soil. The female lays between 30 – 60 eggs. Temperature determines the sex of the offspring. Temperatures between 88- 91° F (31.1 – 32.7° C) produce mostly male offspring. Meanwhile, temperatures lower than 88° F (31.1° C) result in mostly females. The female parent protect the nest from scavengers such as raccoons and iguanas. The eggs hatch in 75 – 80 days at the start of the wet season. The female helps dig ups the hatched babies and carries them to the water.

American Crocodile Conservation

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List classifies the American Crocodile as Vulnerable to Extinction. The Croc’s populations has improved than it previously had been. It was listed as Endangered before conservation work was done to help save them. Unfortunately, they were over-hunted for their hides before being listed on the US Endangered Species List in the 1970s. However, they moved from listed as federally endangered to federally threatened. Protections are still in place to help conserve the species from overharvesting. Unfortunately, their habitat is under threat of destruction to make room for more urban areas.

Uncategorized

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.

Family Friday

Craugastoridae – Fleshbelly Frogs

Suborder: Neobatrachia
Number of Genera: 4*
Number of Species: 100~ or 800~*

Craigastoridae is a family of direct developing frogs from the southern United States all the way down to South America. Some sources combine the family Craugastoridae and Strabomantidae into one single family so exact number of genera and species depends on sources and who you ask. We need to better study the amphibians all over the world.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Chinese Giant Salamander (Andrias davidianus)

Chinese Giant Salamander
Chinese Giant Salamander by ZSL
CR


Common Name: Chinese Giant Salamander
Scientific Name: Andrias davidianus
Family: Cryptobranchidae– Giant Salamander family
Location: China
Introduced Locations: Taiwan and Japan
Size: 5.9 feet (180 cm)

The Chinese Giant Salamander is the largest salamander and amphibian in the world. They are described as a living fossil. A living fossil is an organism that closely resemble organisms only found in fossil records. Sadly, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List lists the salamanders as critically endangered. There are known records of the salamander living as long as 60 years. However, there are stories of them living over 200 years. They are primarily nocturnal but they are known to emerge during the day during breeding season.

A new study showed that the Chinese Giant Salamander is at least 5 different species and as many as 8.  Sadly, all of the new species are in bad shape conservation wise. Amphibiaweb and Amphibian Species of the World hasn’t recognized the distinct species so I’m not going to either until they have.

Chinese Giant Salamander
flickr user Loren Javier

Mating

The salamanders breed from August to September. For breeding, the female salamanders lays her eggs in an underwater cavity. Next, the male salamander fertilizes the eggs. After that, he guards the eggs until they hatch.  It takes the eggs almost two months to hatch. Additionally, the new born salamanders take around 5 to 6 years to reach sexual maturity.

Conservation

The Chinese Giant Salamander is moving fast to becoming extinct. Most of their habitat is being destroyed and they are illegally taken for medicine and food. Additionally, the streams that they live in are also polluted. They need help before its too late.