Uncategorized

Canadian Toad (Anaxyrus hemiophrys)

Canadian_Toad_-Anaxyrus_hemiophrys
Canadian Toad – photo by ceasol

Common Name: Canadian Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus hemiophrys
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad Family
Locations: Canada and the United States
US Locations: Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming
Size: 1 1/2-3 1/4 inches (3.7-8.3 cm)

The Canadian Toad is more aquatic than most toad species in North America. They can be found in or near prairie wetlands. For the winter, the Canadian Toad can burrow below the frost line. They also overwinter within mima mounds, small earth mounds. These mounds can hold hundreds of toads at a time.

The Canadian Toad breeds from May to July depending on the location. They breed in shallow areas of water such as lakes, ponds, and temporary bodies of water. They lay several thousand eggs that hatch in 3 to 12 days. The tadpoles take 6 to 8 weeks to turn into full toads.

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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..

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.

Toad Tuesday

Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus)

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photo by William Flaxington

least concern
Common Name: Great Plains Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus cognatus
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: Canada, Mexico, the United States
US Locations: Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming
Size: 2 – 4.5 inches

The adult Great Plains Toad spends most of its life burrowed underground. They are nocturnal so the best time to see them is at night when they are foraging for food. Toads have been seen out of their burrows during the day during rains or just after. They can also be seen outside their burrows during the mating season. When the heavy spring rains come, the toads emerge from their burrows and move to their breeding area.

The breeding season is generally between March and September but in the northern part of the range, its restricted to May to July. The Great Plains Toad breed in a variety of habitats such as temporary pools, slow streams, holding ponds, and irrigation ditches. The toads prefer temporary bodies of water but will use permanent bodies. Males call from the shores to attract females. Females approach males that they deem fit and mating happens. After the female lays her clutches of eggs, both the male and female leave the eggs on their own.

Eggs hatch in under a week and the tadpoles begin to undergo metamorphosis between 17 and 45 days. Metamorphism happens rather quickly due to the Great Plains Toad’s preference for temporary pools and the fear of the pools drying out before the toads finish undergoing their metamorphism.

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.

 

Toad Tuesday

Yosemite Toad (Anaxyrus canorus)

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photo by William Flaxington

Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Yosemite Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus canorus
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: United States – California
Size: 3.3 inches (84 mm)

The Yosemite Toad is found in the central Sierra Nevada mountain range at elevations between 8,500-10,000 feet. These toads are a diurnal species, active during the day compared to most toads that are nocturnal. They are a relatively long lived species, capable of living 15 years. The trade-off is that toads take a while to reach sexual maturity, over 3 years. Breeding season is from May to August. Typical breeding sites are shallow pools and small, slow moving streams. Females can lay up between 15000 to 2000 eggs. These females do not mate every year, another trade-off from their long lives. The males and female toads look very different compared to each other.

The Yosemite Toad is listed as a federally threatened species by the United States government. It is most likely going to be added to the endangered species list. There are a lot of reasons for the decline in the toads. Habitat degradation by cattle grazing is one of the main reasons. Other reasons include the introduction of non-native game fish, droughts increased by climate change, and possibly climate change. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) designated 1.8 million acres of land as a protected area for the Yosemite Toad and other threatened species.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Frosted Flatwoods Salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum)

frostwoods
photo by Todd Pierson

vulnerable
Common Name: Frosted Flatwoods Salamander
Scientific Name: Ambystoma cingulatum
Family: Ambystomatidae – Mole Salamander family
Locations: United States – Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina
Size: 3.5 – 5.3 inches (9-13.5 cm)

The Frosted Flatwoods Salamander is a medium sized salamander found in the coastal plains of the southeast United States. They are listed as a federally threatened species by the federal government. The longleaf pine-wiregrass flatwoods that the salamanders love our being cut down. To keep these salamanders from becoming extinct, we need to protect their habitats better.

All the Flatwoods Salamanders used to be one species before they were split apart, leaving the Frosted Flatwoods Salamander and the Reticulated Flatwoods Salamander (Ambystoma bishopi) as distinct species. The Reticulated Flatwoods Salamander is a federally endangered species.

The Frosted Flatwoods Salamander is a fossorial species of salamander, spending most of their life underground or in burrows. They come to the surface to travel to wetlands to breed, some even traveling a mile away. Breeding takes place during the fall to winter (October to February) for the salamander. After mating, the females lay their eggs in a depression near a body of water. Once a rain starts, the eggs will hatch.

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.

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.

Frog of the Week

Yellow Dyer Rainfrog (Diasporus citrinobapheus)

yellowdyer.jpeg
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.