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Sonoran Green Toad (Anaxyrus retiformis)

photo by William Flaxington

Common Name: Sonoran Green Toad, Pima Green Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus retiformis
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad Family
Locations: Mexico and the United States
US Locations: Arizona
Size: 1.5 – 2 inches (40 – 49 mm)

The Sonoran Green Toad is known for their yellow / green spots on the dark black background. The toad has lived over 15 years in captivity, which is relatively long for a toad. They are a highly fossorial frog, spending most of their days underground.

Once the summer rains come, the male Sonoran Green Toad comes to temporary filled pools to breed. The males will start to call from grass surrounding the pools to attract females. They are known as explosive breeders due to them only mating for a few days compared to weeks like other frogs. The females will carry the male from the grasses to the water where the females will lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The two toads will then part ways and provide no care for the offspring. Females will lay between 5 to 200 eggs. The eggs will hatch into tadpoles in 2 – 3 days. Then, the tadpoles take 2 to 3 weeks to complete their metamorphosis.

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European Green Toad (Bufotes viridis)

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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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Arizona toad (Anaxyrus microscaphus)

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photo by William Flaxington
least concern

Common Name: Arizona Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus microscaphus
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: United States – Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah
Size: 2- 3 inches (50 – 80 mm)

The Arizona Toad was first described for a specimen from Arizona, hence the name. It is also found all over the southwestern United States. Like most toads, the Arizona Toad is nocturnal (active at night) and spends most of their time underground. They come up to the surface at night to eat.

While the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List has them listed as only Least Concern, the populations are slowly declining due to habitat destruction and hybridization. The Arizona Toad and the Woodhouse’s Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii) hybridize and pushes the Arizona Toad out of areas.

Breeding happens for a short period of time from February to April. Breeding only takes 10 to 12 days. The males will call from the shallows of pools next to streams and rivers. Females will choose a mate and the two will pair up in amplexus. The female will then lay her eggs and the males will fertilize them. The female will lay an average of 4500 eggs. The eggs take 3 to 6 days to hatch. The tadpoles then take 1 to 3 months to complete their metamorphosis.

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Enrichment for Frogs and Toads

Enrichment has become an integral part of the captive care of animals. Enrichment is important to help keep animals mental and physical stats well. Sadly, most of the knowledge and ideas about enrichment is about mammals. Reptiles and amphibians are sadly, often missed when it comes to enrichment but I don’t! I will go over some ideas for enrichment for frogs and toads.

Diet Variety

One of the easiest and often missed enrichment opportunities is using a variety of different food items for frogs and toads. Often keepers feed their frogs or toads just crickets or Dubai roaches. There are a variety of prey items that one can feed your frog or toad including meal worms, horn worms, and earthworms.

Feeding Time Variety

Another simple enrichment idea is just changing when you feed them. People become used to feeding their animals at certain times of the day but adding variety in the time can help them out.

Tong Feeding vs Active Hunting

There are generally two different methods of feeding for frogs and toads. You can either feed each food item to the animal with tongs or release the food items into the tank for them to hunt down on their own. Tong feeding allows the keeper to monitor the exact amount of food each animal is receiving and allows all animals to be fed evenly. When frogs and toads are housed together, one individual may eat more of the food than the others if not tong fed, causing an imbalance. Allowing the frogs and toads to actively hunt down their food provides more psychological enrichment for the animals. I try to balance the two out.

Shelter

Frogs and toads need to be provided shelter to hide in. I don’t really think of this as enrichment but as a basic need but others think its enrichment so I will include it. Often keepers won’t provide shelter due to them wanting to see their frog or toads all the time. Put your animals needs first. PVC pipes are commonly used item for aquatic / terrestrial species to hide in. Arboreal species should have hanging leaves on their tanks for them to climb up and hide in. Burrowing species should have enough dirt in their tank to burrow down and hide in. Those are some of the most basic ways to provide shelter. You can add plants, branches, or rocks to any tank to create more areas for hiding.

Bioactive Enclosures / Tanks

In the search for the most naturalistic environment for reptiles and amphibians, bioactive enclosures were created. These enclosures don’t just have a few live plants in them, but try to create a whole mini ecosystem. Springtails, isopods, or other invertebrates are added to help break down waste. It is believed that these set ups will make the animals feel more natural.

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Canadian Toad (Anaxyrus hemiophrys)

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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.

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.

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.

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.

Toad Tuesday

Oak Toad (Anaxyrus quercicus)

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photo by the USGS

least concern
Common Name: Oak Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus quercicus
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad Family
Locations: United States – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia
Size: 1.25 inches max

The Oak Toad is the smallest toad in North America, not even reaching 2 inches when it is fully grown. They are also interesting in the fact that they are mostly diurnal, active during the day, while most true toads in North America are nocturnal, active during the night.

Breeding takes place from April to September, depending on the arrival of the heavy, warm rains. The mating call of the males sound like baby chickens. While the Oak Toad is small, the female can lay up to 700 eggs. Tadpoles hatch from their eggs in a day and fully undergo metamorphosis in a month or two.

Toad Tuesday

North American Green Toad (Anaxyrus debilis)

GreenToad
photo by USGS
least concern


Common Name: Green Toad, North American Green Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus debilis
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: Mexico and the United States
US Locations: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas
Size: 1.4 inches

The North American Green Toad is found in the south-central United States and down to Mexico. It is often called just the Green Toad but that often leads to confusion with the European Green Toad (Bufo viridis). Obviously, the European species is found in Europe but can be confusing when googling. There are two subspecies of the North American toad that are recognized today, the Western (Anaxyrus debilis insidior) and the Eastern Green Toad (Anaxyrus debilis debilis). The toads are rather secretive, often spending their day burrowed underground or hiding under logs or other objects. They come out at night to hunt for prey.

photo by John Clare

Breeding takes place during or after the summer rains come. When these rains arrive from March to June, depend on location. As explosive breeders, the Green Toad generally only takes a few days to breed in temporary ponds filled by the summer rains. These ponds are free of some of the common predators of the toad’s eggs and tadpoles such as fish. They make amazing breeding sites besides the fact that they will eventually dry up. The tadpoles hatch from their eggs quickly, even within a day. The tadpoles also go through their metamorphoses fast, in less than three weeks.