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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Pacific Tree Frog (Pseudacris regilla)

photo by The High Fin Sperm Whale 

Common Name: Pacific Tree Frog, Pacific Chorus Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudacris regilla or Hyliola regilla
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: Canada, Mexico, and the United States
US Locations: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington
Size: .75 – 2 inches (19 – 50 mm)

Breeding for the frogs happen from November to July with frogs in higher elevations breeding later in the year. The male frogs will come to permanent or non-permanent waters bodies to start calling. The male frog’s breeding call is the typical ribbit that you hear on tv.

The males will highly territorial and will fight other males over breeding areas. Once the female comes and selects a mate, the male will grab her back in amplexus. The female will then lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The female will lay between 400 – 750 eggs at a time. Neither parent will provide any care for their offspring. The eggs hatch in 2 to 3 weeks. The tadpoles take 3 months to complete their transformation.

The Pacific Tree Frog was recently split into 3 different species based on DNA, but the analysis wasn’t great and it was merged back together.

The Pacific Tree Frog is the State Frog of Washington

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Black Legged Poison Dart Frog (Phyllobates bicolor)

photo by Esteban Alzate
Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Black Legged Poison Dart Frog or Bicolored Dart Frog
Scientific Name: Phyllobates bicolor
Family: Dendrobatidae – Poison Dart Frog family
Locations: Colombia
Size: 1.77 – 2.1 inches (45 – 55 mm)

The Black Legged Poison Dart Frogs is one of the most poisonous frogs on earth. They aren’t as poisonous as the Golden Poison Dart Frog (Phyllobates terribilis), the world’s most poisonous frog, but still just 150 micrograms of poison is enough to kill a person. It is one of the three species of poison dart frogs that has been observed to be used to make poison darts by the locals. The natives call the frog, Neará.

They warn predators of their poison with their bright colors. Because they have no natural predators, the frogs are able to be diurnal and move around during the day. The two traits of being duirnal and brightly colored as let to them being introduced in the pet trade. Once the frogs were brought into captivity, they lost their toxicity due to it coming from the native ants they eat. Their large size, for a poison dart frog, also makes them a more ideal pet frog. They have been bred in captivity thus wild caught frogs are rarely seen in the trade in the US. The frogs are social and capable of being housed in groups. They can live up to 20 years under proper care.

Like many other species of Poison Dart Frogs, the Black Legged Poison Dart Frog is a great parent. The frogs will lay their eggs on a leaf or some surface. Once the eggs hatch into tadpoles, the males will carry the tadpoles on their back to a water source for them to grow up in.

The Black Legged Poison Dart Frog is listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation (IUCN) Red List. The main threat to the frog is habitat loss due to cattle grazing, mining, and agriculture.

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California Tree Frog (Pseudacris cadaverina)

photo by Chris Brown / USGS

Common Name: California Tree Frog or California Chorus Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudacris cadaverina or Hyliola cadaverina
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: Mexico and the United States (California)
Male Size: 1.4 inches (36 mm)
Female Size: 1.8 inches (45 mm)

The California Tree Frog can be called the California Chorus Frog due to them being placed in the Chorus Frog genus – Pseudacris. Researchers have proposed moving the frog into the genus Hyliola along with the Pacific Chorus Frog. They are more similar to other Chorus Frogs, in that they aren’t found high in the trees. These frogs like to live in crevices or cavities in boulders along streams. The frogs blend into these boulders with their rough skin and gray / brown color.

Breeding takes place in the streams from February to October. Reproduction for the California Tree Frog is pretty standard. Males will call from the streams to attract potential mates. Once the female selects the mate, the male will grasp her from behind in amplexus. The female then lay her eggs and the male then fertilizes them. Neither parent provide any care for their offspring. The larval period for the tadpoles ranges from 40 – 75 days.

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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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Oregon Spotted Frog (Rana pretiosa)

photo by William Flaxington

Common Name: Oregon Spotted Frog
Scientific Name: Rana pretiosa
Family: Ranidae – True Frog family
Locations: United States and Canada
US Locations: California, Oregon, and Washington
Size: 1.75 – 4 inches (4.4 – 10.1 cm)

The Oregon Spotted Frog is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List and as threatened by the United States federal government. The frogs are most likely are gone from California. The two primary threats are introduced species and habitat destruction / alteration. Much of the wetlands that they call home have damaged due to construction of dams and water removal for farms and cities. Some of the remaining habitat has been invaded by the American Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) or introduced game fishes. These introduced predators feast on the Oregon Spotted Frog and their tadpoles. Removing these predators would help the frog’s numbers bounce back.

photo by USFWS

Breeding takes place after the snow melts, generally in February and March at low elevations and May and June at higher elevations. Breeding only lasts 2 to 4 weeks long. Males will gather in the shallows of marshes and lakes at call for the females. Females will select a male to mate. They will then enter the amplexus position and the females will lay their eggs and the male will fertilize. Females lay around 650 eggs. The eggs hatch into tadpoles between 18 and 30 days. The tadpoles then take 110 to 130 days to complete their metamorphosis.

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Little Grass Frog (Pseudacris ocularis)

photo by Todd Pierson

Common Name: Little Grass Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudacris ocularis
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: United States – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia
Size: .4 – .7 inches (11 – 20 mm)

The Little Grass Frog is the smallest frog in all of North America. While it is technically in the Tree Frog family – Hylidae, they are not as arboreal as other species of tree frogs. They can still climb up to 5 feet high.

Breeding takes place for the Little Grass Frog from January to September in most of their range but in Florida, they can breed all year long. Breeding generally follows heavy rain events. They lay their eggs in shallow, rain-filled wetlands, ditches, and ponds. Reproduction is pretty standard for the frog. Males will call out from the rain-filled areas, trying to attract females. Females will select a male and then they will mate. The females lay around 100 eggs. How do these females carry all those eggs at their small size? I don’t know. Neither of the parents will perform any care for their offspring.

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European Green Toad (Bufotes viridis)

euro_green_toad.jpg
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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Bernhard’s Mantella (Mantella bernhardi)

photo by Devin Edmonds

Common Name: Bernhard’s Mantella
Scientific Name: Mantella bernhardi
Family: Mantellidae
Locations: Madagascar
Size: .75 – .86 inches (19 – 22 mm)

The Bernhard’s Mantella is the smallest of the mantellas. It is found in the rain forests along the southeastern coast of Madagascar. They are active during the wet season from December to February. This is also when they reproduce.

It is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as Vulnerable to Extinction. The main threat to the frogs is habitat loss due to timber harvesting, urban development, and farming. Better protection of the environment is needed to help protect all mantella species.

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Southern Torrent Salamander (Rhyacotriton variegatus)

Photo by James Bettaso, U.S. Fish & Wildlife service

Common Name: Southern Torrent Salamander
Scientific Name: Rhyacotriton variegatus
Family: Rhyacotritonidae – Torrent Salamander family
Locations: United States – California and Oregon
Size: Snout to Vent: 1.5 – 2.4 inches (41 – 62 mm) | Full Length: 3 – 4.5 inches ( 75 – 115 mm)

The Southern Torrent Salamander is found in and around cold, clears streams in old, growth conifer forests along the coast of Oregon and California. They have highly reduced lungs and use their skin to absorb oxygen. Cold water is high in oxygen, which makes it an ideal spot for the salamanders. The Southern Torrent Salamanders are threatened by the clear cutting of old growth forests and the draining of springs and seeps.

The reproductive season for the Southern Torrent Salamander is long, ranging from spring all the way to fall. All members of the family Rhyacotritonidae use internal fertilization. Peak egg laying time is in August and September. Only a few eggs are laid, between 4 to 16 eggs. The eggs take a long time to hatch, up to 8 months. The larval period is also long, as it can last more than 2 years.