Frog of the Week

Cave Coqui (Eleutherodactylus cooki)

Cave Coquí
photo by Luis J. Villanueva-Rivera
Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Cave Coqui, Puerto Rican Cave Frog, Puerto Rican Demon, and Coquí Guajón
Scientific Name: Eleutherodactylus cooki
Family: Eleutherodactylidae
Locations: Puerto Rico
Size: 3.3 inches (8.5 cm)

The Cave Coqui lives in caves, rock grottos, and rocky stream beds. The females are larger than the males. The males have a yellow colored throat and down to the belly. During the mating season (summer and fall), the frogs mate and lay their eggs on boulder surfaces. The female lays on average 17 eggs. The males provide parental care for their eggs by guarding them. The male doesn’t stop mating when protecting the eggs. Its been shown that the males can protect up to 4 different female’s nests. The eggs are direct developing, so once the egg hatches, a froglet comes out, skipping the tadpole stage.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Cave Coqui as Endangered. The United States federal government only lists the species as threatened. They only live in a small area in the southeastern part of Puerto Rico. Human development threatens the frog’s habitat. Also, tick and Chytrid Fungus, a deadly fungal disease, are also harming the frogs.

Researcher Samantha Shablin, a Phd Student at the University of Florida, hopes to help protect the Cave Coqui. She fundraising for her research project that aims to understand how the frogs are responding to parasitic and environmental threats. You can help fund this project by donating at https://experiment.com/projects/how-are-cave-dwelling-amphibians-responding-to-parasitic-and-environmental-threats

Frog of the Week

Golfodulcean Poison Dart Frog (Phyllobates vittatus)

Golfodulcean Poison Dart Frog

Common Name: Golfodulcean Poison Dart Frog or Golfo Dulce Poison Dart Frog
Scientific Name: Phyllobates vittatus
Family: Dendrobatidae – Poison Dart Frog family
Locations: Costa Rica
Size: females up to 1.2 inches (31 mm); male up to 1 inches (26 mm)

The Golfodulcean Poison Dart Frog lives in the Golfo Dulce region of southwestern Costa Rica. They are a diurnal species of frog, active during the day. Their colors warn predators that the frogs are poisonous. Just like most Poison Dart Frogs, they accumulate their poison from the ants they eat. Therefore, in captivity, the frogs lose their toxins. They are common in the pet trade. If you are thinking about getting a pet frog, make sure to read my article Preparing for a Pet Frog or Toad. Its very informative.

Females are able to lay a clutch of eggs every week or two. The clutches usually contain between 7 to 21 eggs. The female lays her clutches on leaves of plants and the male watches over them. He will even pee on the eggs to keep them from drying out. Once the eggs hatch, the male carries the tadpoles on his back to small ponds for them to develop further.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Golfodulcean Poison Dart Frog as Vulnerable to Extinction. They live in a small, severly fragmented area. Their habitat area is threatened by deforestation to make room for agriculture and tree plantations. Also, gold mining threatens their water.

Frog of the Week

European Tree Frog (Hyla arborea)

European Tree Frog
photo by Christian Fischer
least concern

Common Name: European Tree Frog
Scientific Name: Hyla arborea
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog Family
Location: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and Ukraine.
Introduced Location: United Kingdom
Male Size: 1.3–1.7 inches (32 – 43 mm)
Female Size: 1.6 – 2.0 inches (40 – 50 mm)

The European Tree Frog lives throughout most of Europe and down to the northern parts of the Middle East. They prefer to live in broad-leafed and mixed forests, bushlands, meadows, and shrubland. The frogs vary in color from green, gray, brown, and yellowish.

Mating occurs between March and June. First, the males move to ponds, lakes, and other stagnant water bodies and start calling. Once a female arrives, the male grasps her from behind in amplexus. Then, the female lays her eggs and the male fertilizes them. The female lays between 200 – 2000 eggs. Neither parent provides any parental care. The eggs hatch into tadpoles in 10 – 14 days after being laid. Then, the tadpoles usually complete their metamorphosis in 3 months, peaking in July.

European Tree Frog
photo by wikiuser RobertC1301

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes he European Tree Frog as Least Concern for Extinction. They have a wide range and are thought to be abundant throughout it. There are local population declines due to habitat loss from destroying forests to make room for urban development.

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.

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.

croctober

Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus)

Gharial
Male Gharial – photo by Charles J Sharp

Common Name: Gharial, Gavial, and Fish-eating Crocodile
Scientific Name: Gavialis gangeticus
Family: Gavialidae – Gharial family
Locations: Bangladesh, India, and Nepal
Female Size: 8.5 feet (2.6 meters) – 14.75 feet (4.5 meters)
Male Size: 10 feet (3 meters) – 20 feet (6 meters)

The Gharial is known for their long, narrow snout that is adept at catching fish. Males of the species develop a gross looking growths called a ghara on the tip of their snouts once they reach sexual maturity. Ghara means Mud Pot in Hindi. They use the ghara to vocalize more loudly and blow bubbles during their mating displays.

The mating season for the frogs happens during the dry season, between March and April. The males stake out their territory and defend it from rival males. Females in the territory mate with the male and she then lays an average on 40 eggs. Their eggs are the largest eggs of all the living crocodilians, averaging over 5 ounces. The male provides no parental care for their offspring and will move onto reproducing with other females. The female stays to protect her nest from predators. The eggs hatch between 30 – 80 days. After hatching, the mom still protects the babies for weeks and even months.

Gharial Conservation

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List classifies the Gharial as Critically Endangered. Their habitat has been drastically altered due to damming and diverting water from the rivers. Gharials don’t do well far away from the river. These alterations to the habitat causes them to have to travel farther on land when moving to new spots in their river, increasing their chance of dying. Overfishing is also rampant in rivers that the Gharial is found in. This reduces their food source and they get stuck or injured by nets.

Uncategorized

CROCtober

Welcome to CROCtober, the annual celebrations of all things crocodilian, the animal group – not the shoes, during October. The term Crocodilians includes crocodiles, alligators, caimans, and gharials. These creatures are often misunderstood as furious, killing machines but there’s more to them than that. Crocodilians are one of the most endangered group of animals on the planet. Out of the 23 species, 7 of the species are listed as critically endangered. Additionally, 4 species are listed as vulnerable to extinction. That’s not great.

Over the month of CROCtober, I plan to highlight the different species of crocodilians, the troubles they face, some researchers who study them, and how you can help save the crocs. Don’t worry, frog content will still be posted. Stay tuned!

Frog of the Week

Cape Platanna (Xenopus gilli)

Cape Platanna
photo by flickr user Chris Verwey
Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Cape Platanna, Gill’s Plantanna, and Cape Clawed Toad
Scientific Name: Xenopus gilli
Family: Pipidae – Tongueless Frog family
Locations: South Africa
Size: 2.3 inches (60 mm)

The Cape Platanna is an aquatic frog that inhabits the highly acidic seepages, marshes, ponds, and lakes of coastal South Africa. These waterbodies are dark in color, allowing the frogs to blend in. The Platanna are able to “see” in this water due to their highly developed lateral line system. This system always them to detect small vibrations in the water. The frogs have highly webbed clawed toes on their back legs to help them swim. They only come to the surface when their wetlands dry up during the summer or when they want to migrate ponds during the mating season. The frogs aestivate during the summer when their ponds dry up by digging deep into the mud.

The Cape Platanna breeds during the winter months between July to October. Unlike most frogs, members of the family Pipidae lack vocal sacs. To communicate with female frogs, the male frogs make a series clicks. Once the female selects her mate, the male grasps her around the waist in the amplexus position. Then, the female lays between 300 – 400 eggs while the male fertilizes them. Neither parent is known to provide any parental care. Once the eggs hatch, the tadpoles take 120 days to complete their metamorphosis.

Cape Platanna Conservation

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Cape Platanna as Endangered with Extinction. There is believed to be only 5 locations where the frogs live. Most of the wetlands that the frog calls home as been filled to make room for housing development and farm lands. Additionally, the frog hybridizes with the African Clawed Frog (Xenopus laevis), reducing their numbers. Better protections are needed to help save them.

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.