Frog of the Week

Hurter’s Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus hurterii)

Common Name: Hurter’s Spadefoot Toad
Scientific Name: Scaphiopus hurterii
Family: Scaphiopodidae – American Spadefoot Toad family
Locations: United States and Mexico
US Locations: Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma
Size: 1.75 – 3.25 inches (4.4 – 8.3 cm)

The Hurter’s Spadefoot Toad is named after naturalist Julius Hurter, former curator of the St. Louis Academy of Science. They were once considered a subspecies of the Eastern Spadefoot Toad but was moved to being a full species. Like all Spadefoot Toads, the Hurter’s Spadefoot Toad is mostly fossorial, spending most of its time in burrows underground. They have keratonized sheaths on their rear feet that they use to help dig. Spadefoot toads can be distinguished from other groups of toads due to their vertical, cat-like eyes.

The easiest time to find a Hurter’s Spadefoot Toad is during the breeding season from late spring into summer. They breed following heavy storms that fill up temporary pools of water. Mating only lasts a day or two so you need to get out there quick. The males will call out from the shallows of the pools to attract a mate. Once the mate arrives, the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female will lay her eggs and then the male will fertilize. Neither parent provides any care for the offspring.The eggs hatch in 48 hours and the tadpoles complete their metamorphosis in two weeks. This is due to the limit time they have before the pond dries up. Surprisingly, the tadpoles will eat each other if there isn’t enough food in the ponds.

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Two New Toad Species from the Western USA

Two new species of true toads from the family Bufonidae, the True Toad family was discovered in the state of Nevada in the United States. They were confused with the Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas), very much like the newly discovered Dixie Valley Toad (Anaxyrus williamsi). Researchers, Michelle R. GordonEric T. SimandleFranziska C. SandmeierC. Richard Tracy, performed genetic testings to discover the new species.

photo by M. R. Gordon

 Railroad Valley Toad (Anaxyrus nevadensis)

The name of the toad comes from the area it was found, the Railroad Valley. They are a rather small toad, averaging only 2.5 inches long. Another distinguishable trait of the Railroad Valley Toad is their mottled stomach.

photo by M. R. Gordon

Hot Creek Toad (Anaxyrus monfontanus)

Just like the Railroad Valley Toad, the Hot Creek Toad is named after the area that they are found in. They are smaller than the Railroad Valley Toad, only averaging around 2.3 inches (59.6 mm). The Hot Creek Toad has rather larger parotoid glands (ball behind the eye) for such a small toad.

The life history of the toads are not much different than the most other toads. They are nocturnal, emerging from their burrows at night to hunt and eat.

You can read the full scientific paper here – https://bioone.org/journals/Copeia/volume-108/issue-1/CH-18-086/Two-New-Cryptic-Endemic-Toads-of-Bufo-Discovered-in-Central/10.1643/CH-18-086.full

Toad Tuesday

Western European Spadefoot Toad (Pelobates cultripes)

Jean-Laurent Hentz

Common Name: Western European Spadefoot Toad, Iberian Spadefoot Toad, Spanish Spadefoot Toad, and Wagler’s Spadefoot Toad
Scientific Name: Pelobates cultripes
Family: Pelobatidae – European Spadefoot Toad Family
Locations: France, Portugal, and Spain
Size: 4.9 inches (12.5 cm)

The Western European Spadefoot Toad gets its name due to the spades on its rear feet. The toad uses these spades to burrow down in the ground, over 7 inches deep. They prefer habitat with sandy soils or loosely compact soils since its easier to dig there. The toad is nocturnal so it is hard to find but they often come to the surface after rains.

The Western European Spadefoot Toad breeds from October to May. Males will call from temporary pools to attract females. Females will sometimes call too. Once the female selects a mate, the male will grasp the female frog behind in amplexus. The female will then lay her eggs and the males will fertilize them. Females will lay between 1000 – 4000 eggs. The tadpoles take 4 to 6 months to complete their metamorphism.

The Western Spadefoot Toad is listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The habitat they call home is being destroyed for more urban development. Introduced species, such as the Louisiana Crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) and the Eastern Mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki), feed on the tadpoles and eggs, decreasing their population.

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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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Frogs and Toads of Tasmania

Frogs and Toads of Tasmania

Tasmania is home to only 11 species of frogs and toads from two different families.

Hylidae – Tree Frog Family

Tasmanian Tree Frog (Litoria burrowsae)

The Tasmanian Tree Frog is a medium sized frog, averaging between 50 – 60 mm (2 – 2.3 inches). It is found in the western half of Tasmania and only there.

Southern Brown Tree Frog (Litoria ewingi)

The Southern Brown Tree Frog is the smallest of the tree frogs on the island, only reaching 45 mm (1.8 inches) long. It is found throughout Tasmania.

Growling Grass Frog / Southern Bell Frog / Warty Swamp Frog (Litoria raniformis)

The Growling Grass Frog is the largest tree frog on the island. The size ranges from 50 mm to 100 mm (2 – 4 inches). Found everywhere besides the southern coast.

Myobatrachidae – Australian Ground Frog Family

Moss Froglet (Crinia nimbus)

The Moss Frog is found only in the southern coast. They average between 20 – 30 mm (.8 – 1.2 inches) long.

Eastern Common Froglet (Crinia signifera)

The Eastern Common Froglet is a small frog, ranging between 18 – 28 mm (.7 – 1.1 inches). They have a granular white marbled belly. It is found throughout the Tasmania and the Bass Strait Islands.

Tasmanian Froglet (Crinia tasmaniensis)

The Tasmanian Froglet is a small froglet, ranging between 20 – 30 mm (.8 – 1.2 inches) long. The froglets have a rough red belly. They are found in the eastern half of Tasmania.

Southern Smooth Froglet (Geocrinia laevis)

The Southern Smooth Froglet is found in the northwestern part of Tasmania and Kings Island. They get their name from their smooth belly that helps identify them. They also have pink coloration in groin and armpits. They are a small frog only 20 – 35 mm (.8 – 1.4 inches) long.

Eastern Banjo Frog / Pobblebonk (Limnodynastes dumerili)

The Eastern Banjo Frog is one of the largest frogs in Tasmania. It ranges between 50 – 85 mm (2 – 3.3 inches . It is found everywhere besides the southwest part of the island.

Striped Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes peroni)

Striped Frog is gold or brown in color with black or brown stripes down its back. It ranges in size from 45 – 75 mm (1.8 – 3 inches) long. It is found only in the northern coast of Tasmania and King Island.

Spotted Grass Frog / Spotted Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes tasmaniensis)

The Spotted Grass Frog is named after its distinguishable spots covering its body. It ranges from 30 – 47 mm (1.2 – 1.9 inches). It is found only in the eastern part of the Tasmania and Flinders Island.

Southern Toadlet (Pseudophryne semimarmorata)

The Southern Toad is easy to identify if you look at their belly. It has bright red or yellow coloring on the throat, arms, legs, and low belly. On the upper belly, it is marbled. They range between 22 – 32 mm (.9 – 1.25 inches). They are found in the eastern half of Tasmania and Flinders Island.

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Canadian Toad (Anaxyrus hemiophrys)

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: 1.5 -3.45 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 (5 – 11.43 cm)

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 above ground. 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.

photo by John P Clare

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. The male will grasp the female from behind in the amplexus position. The female will then lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The females can lay up to 20,000 eggs at a time. 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)

yosemite toad
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 lives 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 active at nocturnal. They live long for a toad 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. The males travel to these ponds once the breeding season start. Then, they will start to call to attract the female. Once the female arrives, the male grasps her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female lays her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The female is capable of laying between 15000 to 2000 eggs. These females do not mate every year, another trade-off from their long lives. Neither of the parents provide any care for their offspring. 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 toad’s population numbers. 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.