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

Frog of the Week

Limosa Harlequin Frog (Atelopus limosus)

Limosa Harlequin Frog
photo by Brian Gratwicke

Common Name: Limosa Harlequin Frog
Scientific Name: Atelopus limosus
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: Panama
Size: 1 – 1.6 inches (26.5 – 40.2 mm)

The Limosa Harlequin Frog lives amongst slopes of rocky streams in the forests of central Panama. Their bright colors warn predators of their toxicity, allowing them to be active during the day. There are two different morphs of the species. The lowland morph has a brown color with yellow fingertips. Meanwhile, the highland morph is green and yellow with a black V on its back. The females generally have a red / orange colored belly.

Limosa Harlequin Frog Conservation

The Harlequin Frogs(Atelopus) are one of the most endangered group of frogs in the world and sadly, the Limosa Harlequin Frog doesn’t fair any better. Additionally, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List classifies the frog as Critically Endangered. It is estimated that 80% of the population will die off One of the main reason for the declines is the invasive fungal pathogen Chytrid Fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis). This pathogen causes the skin of the frog to harden. Due to frogs only breathing through their skin, this causes them to suffocate and die. The loss of habitat for urban development and farms is another reason for the declines. At last, pollution from gold mining isn’t helping either.

To help ensure that the Limosa Harlequin Frog survives, researchers at the Smithsonian Institute and the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project have taken some of the frogs into captivity. They are raising frogs and tadpoles to release into the wild as well as keeping an emergency group in place.

croctober

Black Caiman (Melanosuchus niger)

Black Caimen
photo by wikiuser Rigelus

Common Name: Black Caiman
Scientific Name: Melanosuchus niger
Family: Alligatoridae – Alligator family
Locations: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, and Peru
Size: 7.25 – 14.1 feet (2.2 to 4.3 meters) , can grow to 16.5 feet (5 meters)

The Black Caiman is the largest living species of caiman, capable of reaching 16.5 feet long and reaching over a thousand pounds! They live in the Amazon River Basin, where they are one of the apex predators there. Once the Black Caiman reaches full size, only humans attempt to hunt them. The caiman feeds on a variety of animals such as snakes, fish, monkeys, frogs, and even other caiman. They hunt at night, where their excellent night vision help out.

At the end of the dry season, the females start to build their nests of soil and vegetation. Additionally, these nests are almost 5 feet (1.5 meters) long and 2 and a half feet (0.75 meters) wide. At the start of the wet season (May – June), the caiman lays between 30 – 60 eggs. The mother protects her nests from predators until they hatch. The eggs hatch between 42 – 90 days after being laid. The mother helps dig the hatchlings out of the nest. Then, the offspring stick close to their mom. Even with their mom’s protection, a large number of the offspring die.

Black Caiman Conservation

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Black Caiman as Conservation Dependent. The IUCN Red List no longer uses this category. The caiman’s status hasn’t been reassessed since 2000 when they were placed there. Before, they were categorized as endangered due to over hunting of the species. Hunting of the species has slowed down thanks to legal protections.

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

Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)

Saltwater Crocodile
photo by flickr user fvanrenterghem

Common Name: Saltwater Crocodile or Salties
Scientific Name: Crocodylus porosus
Family: Crocodylidae – Crocodile family
Locations: Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines,, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vanuatu, and Vietnam
Size: 17 – 23 feet (5.1 – 7 meters)

The Saltwater Crocodile is the largest living crocodile species in the world. These crocodiles can reach 23 feet and over 2,200 pounds! They received their name due to their resistance to saltwater. Most crocodiles only enter the saltwater in emergencies while the Saltwater Crocodile just lives there. They are capable of living over 70 years in the wild and longer in captivity.

Saltwater Crocodile Reproduction

The Saltwater Crocodile breeds during the wet season when the water levels are the highest. The females select a nesting site where she and a male eventually mates. The male is a dead beat dad and doesn’t provide any care for his offspring. He leaves the mom and tries to find more potential mates. The female crocodile shows a high amount of parental care.

The mother guards her nest of eggs, even splashing water on the eggs to help prevent them from drying up. The eggs take 3 months to hatch. The sex of the offspring depend on the incubation temperature. Temperatures below 86 ºF (30 ºC) result in females. Meanwhile, temperatures above 89 ºF (32 ºC) results in male offspring. Once the eggs hatch, the female digs out the babies and carries them to the water in her mouth. Then, she protects the babies until they are able to take care of themselves. What a mom!

Conservation

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Saltwater Crocodile as Least Concern for Extinction. They have a fairly large range but the destruction of potential nesting sites is a concern. Another threat is hunting of the crocs for their pelts and meat. These threats are rather low though.

Frog of the Week

Holy Cross Frog (Notaden bennettii)

Holy Cross Frog
photo by wikiuser Tnarg 12345

Common Name: Holy Cross Frog, Crucifix Frog, and Crucifix Toad
Scientific Name: Notaden bennettii
Family: Myobatrachidae – Australian Ground Frog family
Locations: Australia
Size: 2.7 inches (6.8 cm)

The Holy Cross Frog is a fossorial species of frog found in the  black soil plains and semi-arid grassland regions of western New South Wales and Queensland. During the dry times, the frog burrows down in the ground and surrounds itself in a cocoon to preserve water. They are capable of digging down almost 10 feet (3 meters)! Due to their fossorial lifestyle, the frogs feed primarily on ants and termites. When threatened by predators, the frogs produce a sticky, glue-like substance that predators don’t want to eat. It is advised to wash your hands after handling the Holy Cross Frog and basically any frog.

Once the heavy rains come, the frog will emerge from the ground, ready to breed. The male frogs will move to temporary ponds created by the rains and start to call out to females. The call sounds like a woo. Once the female arrives at the pond, the male glues himself to her back due to his smaller size. Next, the female lays her eggs and the male will fertilize them. Neither parents provide any parental care for their offspring.

Holy Cross Frog
photo by flickr user eyeweed

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Holy Cross Frog as Least Concern for Extinction. The only threats to the species are habitat loss due to farming, climate change, and the introduction of the invasive Cane Toad (Rhinella marina). Researchers have been trying to get the frogs to breed in captivity just in case but have been struggling. Surprisingly, the answer to this problem was a Youtube Clip of a thunderstorm. This clip helps simulate heavy rain storms that gets the frogs in the mood.

New Species

2 New Species of Waterdogs

The Waterdogs are fully aquatic species of salamanders that are paedomorphic. This means that they retain their larval characteristics (gills, etc) throughout their life. They are often mysterious, often living at the bottom of drainages, ponds, and lakes.

Researchers, Craig Guyer, Christopher M. Murray, Henry Bart, Brian I. Crother, Ryan E. Chabarria, Mark A. Bailey, and Khorizon Dunn, have described two new Waterdog species from the southeastern United States. You can read the article here. The two waterdogs were considered to be Gulf Coast Waterdog (Necturus beyeri) but they are physically different than it. Also the researchers suggest changing the name of the Gulf Coast Waterdog to the Western Waterdog.

Escambia Waterdog – photo by Craig Guyer

The first of the new species is the Escambia Waterdog (Necturus mounti). The larvae lacks white spots which differs from the Gulf Coast Waterdog. The adults lack spots on their mandible chin and on the sides of their belly. Their belly is a bright white color as well.

Apalachicola Waterdog – photo by Craig Guyer

The second of the species is the Apalachicola Waterdog (Necturus moleri). They as well lack white spots on their larvae that differs it from the Gulf Coast Waterdog. The adults have spots on their mandible chin and on the sides of their belly. Their belly is dull white in color. Both of the new species can be found around the Florida – Alabama border.

Frog of the Week

Paradoxical Frog (Pseudis paradoxa)

Paradoxical Frog
photo by Hans Hillewaert
least concern

Common Name: Paradoxical Frog, Paradox Frog, Shrinking Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudis paradoxa
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog Family
Locations:  Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela
Size: 1.7 – 3 inches (45 – 75 mm)

The Paradoxical Frog is named after a strange phenomenon during their metamorphosis. Their tadpole is the largest tadpole in the world, almost reaching 10 inches (25 cm) long! That is over three times larger than the length of an adult frog! What a paradox! Yet, not all tadpoles exhibit the paradox. Tadpoles that are born in temporary bodies of water with predators transform quickly and leave the water before they get to massive sizes. In permanent bodies of water, they transform slower, thus allowing more growth time.

The Paradoxical Frog is a member of the Tree Frog family – Hylidae but they are never seen in the trees. They live in and around permanent and temporary ponds. These are the same bodies of water that they breed in. The males will call for the ponds for the females. Once the female arrives, the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female will start laying her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The eggs are laid in the vegetation near the shore. Neither parent provides any parental care.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Paradoxical Frog as Least Concern for Extinction. They have a wide spread range and are common throughout it. Some populations are facing declines due to habit loss due to urban development and agriculture.

Frog of the Week

Magdalena Giant Glass Frog (Ikakogi tayrona)

Common Name: Magdalena Giant Glass Frog
Scientific Name: Ikakogi tayrona
Family: Centrolenidae – Glass Frog family
Locations: Colombia
Size: 1.2 inches (28 mm)

The Magdalena Giant Glass Frog is found in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range in the Magdalena department of Colombia, at altitudes up to a mile (1790 meters) high. They are an arboreal species of frog, living up in the trees. During the day, the frogs will hide on the back of leaves, camouflaging in with their translucent skin. Glass Frogs are really small, so even a frog reaching not even 1.5 inches long is considered gigantic.

The males of the species will mark out territory in leaves over hanging a stream. They will fight other males that enter their territory. The males even have humeral spines on their arms that they use to fight the other males. Eventually, the males will start calling for the females. Once the females arrive, the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female will lay her eggs on the leaves and the male will fertilize them.

The Magdalena Giant Glass Frog is the only known Glass Frog known that females will provide parental care for their offspring. In the other species, parental care is either provided by the male or not at all. The females will brood the eggs, protecting the eggs from predators and keeping them hydrated. Eventually, the eggs will hatch and the tadpoles will fall into the stream.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Magdalena Giant Glass Frog as Vulnerable to Extinction. They are found only in a small area where habitat destruction is an increasing problem.