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..

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Frog of the Week

Phantasmal Poison Frog (Epipedobates tricolor)

phantasmal
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

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.

Frog of the Week

River Frog (Lithobates heckscheri)

rana_heckscheri02
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.

 

 

Other Amphibian of the Week

California Giant Salamander (Dicamptodon ensatus)

california_giant_salamander
photo by William Flaxington

nearthreatened
Common Name: California Giant Salamander
Scientific Name: Dicamptodon ensatus
Family: Dicamptodontidae – Pacific Giant Salamander Family
Locations: United States – California
Size: 12 inches for terrestrial forms, 13 inches for aquatic

The California Giant Salamander is found in northwestern coastal forests of California with cold streams and ponds. They use these streams to breed during the spring with most of the egg laying in May. Breeding could also occur in the fall. Between 70 to 100 eggs are laid in the streams. Larvae salamanders can take up to 2 years to develop into terrestrial adults if they ever do. There has been observed neotenic populations of the California Giant Salamanders. These neotenic salamanders retain their larval characteristics such as their gills but are capable of reproduction.

The California Giant Salamander is listed as as Near Threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The main threats to the survival of the salamander is the encroachment of humans on their small habitat. Their habitat is great for logging but logging is not good for the salamanders. Also towns are growing and need more land.

 

tree frog thursday

Mountain Chorus Frog (Pseudacris brachyphona)

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Mountain Chorus Frog  – photo by Todd Pierson

least concern
Common Name: Mountain Chorus Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudacris brachyphona
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: United States – Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania
Size: 1.25 inches

The Mountain Chorus Frog is found in and around the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States. The frog starts breeding when they wake up from their hibernation generally around late February and early March. The males call sounds like reeking sound. Females can lay 300 to 1500 eggs in a clutch. No parental care has been reported in the Mountain Chorus Frog. The eggs hatch in 7-10 days and the tadpoles undergo metamorphosis in a month or two. The Mountain Chorus Frog is a terrestrial species of tree frog. They spend most of their time on the ground.

Frog of the Week

Reticulated Glass Frog (Hyalinobatrachium valerioi)

glassfrog
least concern
Common Name: Reticulated Glass Frog, Valerio’s Glass Frog, La Palma Glass Frog, and Ranita de Vidrio
Scientific Name: Hyalinobatrachium valerioi
Family: Centrolenidae – Glass Frog Family
Locations: Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Panama
Size: 1 inch

Like most Glass Frogs from the family Centrolenidae, the Reticulated Glass Frog is a highly arboreal species of frogs, rarely leaving the trees that are their home. They will even lay their eggs on leaves overhanging streams. Breeding for the Reticulated Glass Frog takes place during the wet season. Males will carve out territories and start calling. If another male enters the territory, the male will send out calls to tell the intruder to go away. If the intruder does not leave, a fight will break out that could lead to death. After mating, the female will lay around 30 eggs on the underside of leaves overhanging streams. She will then leave the eggs but the males will protect and guard them from enemies such as wasps. They will even pee on them to keep them moist. Parental care is not often seen in glass frogs.

The Reticulated Glass Frog can be found in the pet trade. They can be hard to take care of so you shouldn’t get one if you are a beginner to frogs. They are nocturnal so you won’t see them much during the day since they hide under leaves. No more than one male can be housed together at a time or they could fight and kill each other. The Reticulated Glass Frog doesn’t have the longest lifespan, averaging between 5-8 years in captivity, obviously with better care maybe longer. If you still want to buy one, make sure it is captive bred, to help protect wild ones. Also never release any pet frog into the wild if you can no longer take care of it.

Frog of the Week

Pig Frog (Lithobates grylio)

pig_frog_profile.jpg
photo by the USFWS

least concern
Common Name: Pig Frog
Scientific Name: Lithobates grylio
Family: Ranidae – True Frog Family
Locations: United States – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas
Introduced Locations: Bahamas, China, and Puerto Rico.
Size: 6.5 inches (165 mm)

The Pig Frog is named after the male’s mating call that sounds like a pig grunt. Like most frogs in North America, the Pig Frog breeds from early spring to late summer. Generally, the frog breeds in permanent bodies of water such as ponds, lakes, and swamps but have been known to breed in ephemeral ponds, streams, and roadside ditches. Females can lay up to 15,000 eggs during a breeding season. The Pig Frog is mostly aquatic, only coming to the edge of bodies of water.