Frog of the Week

Red Spotted Toad (Anaxyrus punctatus)

photo by the USGS

least concern

Common Name: Red-Spotted Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus punctatus
Family: Bufonidae – True Toads
Locations:  Mexico and the United States
US Locations: Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah
Size: 3.7 to 7.5 cm (1.5 to 3.0 in)

The Red-Spotted Toad is found in the southwestern United States down to almost Mexico City, Mexico. Breeding takes place from March to September, depending on location and habitat. Red-Spotted Toads that live near streams breed from March to June and typically breed 2 to 4 weeks. Populations that live in the desert breed from June to September, depending on when the summer rains come. These toads breed in pools form by the rain and only breed for a few days. The Red-Spotted Toad hybridizes with a few different toads including the Western Toad, Great Plains Toad, Woodhouse’s Toad, and Sonoran Green Toad.

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Other Amphibian of the Week

Red-bellied Newt (Taricha rivularis)

Red_Bellied_Newt_(Taricha_rivularis)least concern

Common Name: Red-bellied Newt
Scientific Name: Taricha rivularis
Family: Salamandridae
Location: United States – California
Size: 3 inches

The Red-bellied Newt is found only in Sonoma, Mendocino, and Humboldt counties of California. They are found in coastal redwood forests with rocky, cold, moderate to fast streams. The newt is mainly terrestrial until it comes to breeding, then they transform to become more aquatic with loose skin and a more flatter, wider tail. The Red-bellied Newt breeds in the same or close spot every year. After mating, females usually lay around 10 eggs under a rock or stone. The eggs take around 20-30 days to hatch and then undergo metamorphose in four months.

The Red-bellied Newt has a red belly to defend itself. When threatened by a predator, the newt will extend its limbs to the side to show the predator that they are poisonous. Sometimes, they will even kinda stand on two legs, lifting his front limbs and belly off the ground. They have enough poison in them to kill a human adult.

 

Frog of the Week

Northern Red-legged Frog (Rana aurora)

photo by Walter Siegmund

least concern
Common Name: Northern Red-legged Frog
Scientific Name: Rana aurora
Family: Ranidae
Locations: Canada and the United States
US Locations: Alaska, California, Oregon, and Washington
Size: 3.3 inches

The Northern Red-legged Frog is found along the western coast of North America. They breed from January to March depending on how far north they are located. Farther north they are, the later they breed. Egg masses from the frogs number between 300 and 5000 eggs. Eggs hatch in about a week into tadpoles. The tadpoles take 3 to 7 months to fully undergo metamorphosis. Some of the tadpoles take until the next spring to turn into frogs. Adult frogs can live up to 10 years.

Frog of the Week

Apennine Yellow-bellied Toad (Bombina pachypus)

Alpine Yellow Bellied Toad
photo by Benny Trapp

Conservation status is Endangered
Common Name: Apennine Yellow-bellied Toad
Scientific Name: Bombina pachypus
Family: Bombinatoridae
Locations Italy
Size: 1.3 inches to 2.1 inches or 35-55 mm

The Apennine Yellow-bellied Toad is a diurnal (active during the day) species of toad, which is kinda unusual for most frogs and toads. It probably has to do with the fact that the Apennine Yellow-bellied Toad needs to show off its bright, yellow belly to warn predators that they are toxic. It would be hard to see if its dark out.  Other frogs and toads want to stay hidden during the day to avoid predators. When threatened by a predator, the Apennine Yellow-bellied Toad arch their back to show off their belly. This is called the unken reflex.

The Apennine Yellow-bellied Toad hibernates from November to late April. I wish I could hibernate during that time too. After waking up, the toads get to work to start breeding. They breed from May all the way to September. Mating takes place in temporary bodies of water. Females lay a couple eggs to a couple dozen of eggs.

Populations of the Apennine Yellow-bellied Toad have been decreasing. It is thought that Chytrid Fungus is one of the culprits behind the drops. Chytrid Fungus is a deadly disease affecting amphibians around the globe. The Apennine Yellow-bellied Toad was the first Italian species of amphibian to be confirmed to have Chytrid Fungus. Another reason for the declines include habitat loss due to farming.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Gaboon Caecilian (Geotrypetes seraphini)

0075
photo by Henk Wallays

leastconcern

Common Name: Gaboon Caecilian
Scientific Name: Geotrypetes seraphini
Family:  Dermophiidae
Locations: Cameroon, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone
Size: 15.7 inches (400 mm)

The Gaboon Caecilian is an amphibian, not a snake, worm, or eel. Caecilians are adept at underground life and have characteristics that reflect that. They don’t have legs to help them move easier through the tunnels underground. They have poor eye sight because they don’t need to see well in the darkness of the underground world.

The Gaboon Caecilian is a viviparous species of caecilian, which means they give live birth to live young. They can give birth to up to four baby caecilians that can reach lengths of 3 inches. Water is not needed for breeding for caecilians.

Frog of the Week

Mexican Spadefoot Toad (Spea multiplicata)

Mexican Spadefoot Toad
photo by Sarah Beckwith

leastconcern
Common Name: Mexican Spadefoot Toad, New Mexican Spadefoot Toad, Southern Spadefoot Toad, Desert Spadefoot Toad
Scientific Name: Spea multiplicata
Family: Scaphiopodidae – American Spadefoot Toad family
Locations: Mexico and the United States
US Locations: Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah
Size: 2.5 inches

The Mexican Spadefoot Toad is found in the southwestern United States and most of central Mexico. Like all spadefoot toads, the Mexican Spadefoot Toad does have keratinized spade-like projections on their hind legs. They use these spades to burrow into the ground. The Mexican Spadefoot Toad spends most of the day underground, coming up at night to hunt and look for mates. For mating, it usually takes place after heavy rains. Breeding periods only last one or two days in ponds and pools that form from the rains. These pools and ponds only last a few weeks. Therefore, the eggs hatch in a few days and it only takes the tadpoles a couple weeks to undergo metamorphosis.

 

Other Amphibian of the Week

Oriental Fire-bellied Newt (Cynops orientalis)

leastconcern
Common Name: Oriental Fire-bellied Newt
Scientific Name: Cynops orientalis
Family: Salamandridae
Location: China
Size: 3 inches

The Oriental Fire-bellied Newt is commonly found in ditches, ponds, and rice terraces in east Central China. Because the Oriental Fire-bellied Newts are common, they are harvested for the pet trade, research, and traditional Chinese medicine. The Chinese Fire-bellied Newt was   one of the most common newts in the pet trade but there is a problem.

The Chinese Fire-bellied Newt is a host for Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal), a fungal pathogen that has been wiping out salamander populations in Europe.  Because of the fear of introducing the disease to the US, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the Chinese Fire-bellied Newt and other species of salamanders on the injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act. These species can not be imported into the US without permits now. Originally,  people were not even allowed to ship the newts and salamanders across state lines. People in the hobby pet trade were not happy about this. So, they fought the USFWS in court and won, making them able to move the salamanders and newts across state lines.

Frog of the Week

Fiji Ground Frog (Cornufer vitianus)

A reddish Fiji Ground Frog next to a ruler
photo by Tamara Osborne

Conservation status is Endangered
Common Name: Fiji Ground Frog, Viti Wrinkled Ground Frog
Scientific Name: Cornufer vitianus
Family: Ceratobatrachidae
Location: Fiji
Size: 2.3 inches

The Fiji Ground Frog is found only on the islands of Fiji. It is found on the four larger islands (Taveuni, Vanua Levu, Ovalau, and Gau) and on the smaller island of Viwa. Sadly, the frog hasn’t been doing to well. The islands of Fiji have been hit hard by invasive species. The Javan Mongoose / Small Indian Mongoose (Herpestes javanicus) and the Brown Indian Mongoose (Herpestes fuscus) have been introduced to the island and have found that the Fiji Ground Frog is delicious. These mongooses have wiped out the frog from other islands of Fiji. Other invasive species such as cats and Cane Toads also aren’t helping. Neither is deforestation of their habitat.

small-asian-mongoose
Small Indian Mongoose – photo by Chung Bill Bill
Frog of the Week

Boreal Chorus Frog (Pseudacris maculata)

Boreal Chorus Frog
photo by Todd Pierson

leastconcern
Common Name: Boreal Chorus Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudacris maculata
Family: Hylidae
Locations: Canada and the United States
US Locations: Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Michigan, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, New Mexico, New York, Vermont, Wyoming, and Wisconsin
Size: around an inch

The Boreal Chorus Frog is found throughout the central United States and Canada. They are also found around the US / Canada border near New York and Vermont. The frog is gray, tan, brown, or green in color and has 3 dark black lines down its back that can be broken.  Also, they have a stripe through its eye. During early spring, the frogs breed  right after the snow melts. While the Boreal Chorus Frog is a tree frog, they are not strong climbers and rarely climb higher than branches on low scrubs.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Taylor’s Salamander (Ambystoma taylori )

2337
photo by Ruth Percino Daniel

CR
Common Name: Taylor’s Salamander
Scientific Name: Ambystoma taylori
Family: Ambystomatidae – Mole Salamander Family
Location: Mexico
Size: 2.3 – 4.4 inches

The Taylor’s Salamander is a neotenic salamander, found only in Laguna Alchichica, a crater lack, in Puebla, Mexico. The lake has very high salinity, at levels that would kill any other salamander species, but not the Taylor’s Salamander. It is somehow able to tolerate it. The Taylor’s Salamander faces difficulties in the lake. The water from the lake is being extracted for irrigation and drinking. The levels of the water is decreasing and the quality of the water is decreasing.