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Red-Eyed Tree Frog (Agalychnis callidryas)

Red-Eyed Tree Frog (Agalychnis callidryas)

The red-eyed tree frog flashes its brightly colored body parts when startled. It sleeps by day with its eyes closed and body markings covered, stuck to leaf-bottoms.

Fast Facts

Type                                                   : Amphibian

Diet                                                     : Carnivore

Average life span in the wild            : 5 years

Size                                                     : 1.5 to 2.75 in (4 to 7 cm)

Group name                                       : Army

Did you know?

The red-eyed tree frog is also called the red-eyed leaf frog.

 

Many scientists believe the red-eyed tree frog developed its vivid scarlet peepers to shock predators into at least briefly questioning their meal choice.

These iconic rain-forest amphibians sleep by day stuck to leaf-bottoms with their eyes closed and body markings covered. When disturbed, they flash their bulging red eyes and reveal their huge, webbed orange feet and bright blue-and-yellow flanks. This technique, called startle coloration, may give a bird or snake pause, offering a precious instant for the frog to spring to safety.

Their neon-green bodies may play a similar role in thwarting predators. Many of the animals that eat red-eyed tree frogs are nocturnal hunters that use keen eyesight to find prey. The shocking colors of this frog may over-stimulate a predator’s eyes, creating a confusing ghost image that remains behind as the frog jumps away.

Red-eyed tree frogs, despite their conspicuous coloration, are not venomous. They are found in tropical lowlands from southern Mexico, throughout Central America, and in northern South America. Nocturnal carnivores, they hide in the rain forest canopy and ambush crickets, flies, and moths with their long, sticky tongues.

Red-eyed tree frogs are not endangered. But their habitat is shrinking at an alarming rate, and their highly recognizable image is often used to promote the cause of saving the world’s rain forests.

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Posted by on June 8, 2011 in Amphibians

 

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Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobatidae)

Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobatidae)

Poison dart frogs, like this sapphire-blue species, are highly toxic. Their brilliant colors serve as warnings to potential predators to keep away.

Fast Facts

Type                                                   :  Amphibian

Diet                                                     :  Carnivore

Average life span in the wild            :  3 to 15 years

Size                                                     :  1 in (2.5 cm)

Group name                                       : Army

Protection status                                : Threatened

Did you know?

 

The only natural predator of most of the poison dart frog family is a snake called Leimadophis epinephelus, which has developed a resistance to the frogs’ poison.

Poison dart frogs, members of the Dendrobatidae family, wear some of the most brilliant and beautiful colors on Earth. Depending on individual habitats, which extend from the tropical forests of Costa Rica to Brazil, their coloring can be yellow, gold, copper, red, green, blue, or black. Their elaborate designs and hues are deliberately ostentatious to ward off potential predators, a tactic called aposematic coloration.

Some species display unusual parenting habits, including carrying both eggs and tadpoles on their backs. Although this “backpacking” is not unique among amphibians, male poison arrow frogs are exceptional in their care, attending to the clutch, sometimes exclusively, and performing vital transportation duties.

Dendrobatids include some of the most toxic animals on Earth. The two-inch-long (five-centimeter-long) golden poison dart frog has enough venom to kill 10 grown men. Indigenous Emberá people of Colombia have used its powerful venom for centuries to tip their blowgun darts when hunting, hence the genus’ common name.

Scientists are unsure of the source of poison dart frogs’ toxicity, but it is possible they assimilate plant poisons which are carried by their prey, including ants, termites and beetles. Poison dart frogs raised in captivity and isolated from insects in their native habitat never develop venom.

The medical research community has been exploring possible medicinal uses for some poison dart frog venom. They have already developed a synthetic version of one compound that shows promise as a painkiller.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2011 in Amphibians

 

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Oriental Fire-Bellied Toad (Bombina orientalis)

Oriental Fire-Bellied Toad (Bombina orientalis)

Oriental fire-bellied toad

Fast Facts

Type: Amphibian
Diet: Omnivore
Average life span in the wild: Up to 20 years
Size: 1.5 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5.5 cm)
Weight: 1 to 2 oz. (28 to 56 g)
Did you know…?
The pupils of the oriental fire-bellied toad are triangular-shaped.

From above, the oriental fire-bellied toad seems fairly nondescript—a green toad with black spots blending nicely with the verdant colors of its habitat. It’s not until it perceives a threat that this flashy amphibian reveals its true colors.

Oriental fire-bellied toads secrete toxins from their skin, and they want potential predators to know it. When threatened, they rise up on their front legs and arch their back, sometimes even flipping themselves over completely, to reveal the bright red-and-black coloration of their underside. This behavior, known as the unken reflex, warns predators, “Eat me, and you might croak.”

One of the most common amphibians in its primary range, oriental fire-bellied toads thrive in northeastern China, Korea, southern Japan, and southern parts of Russia. They are highly aquatic and usually found in slow-moving streams and ponds. When out of water, they stick to the region’s coniferous and broadleaved forests. They hibernate from late September to May, sheltering in rotting logs, leaf piles, and occasionally at the bottom of streams.

Oriental fire-bellied toads are medium-sized, growing to a length of about 2 inches (5.5 centimeters). Their backs, covered in spiky-looking warts, can be bright green to brownish gray, and their bellies are smooth.

Tadpoles survive on algae, fungi, and plants, while the adults eat a variety of invertebrates, including worms, insects, and mollusks.

Oriental fire-bellies are popular in the pet trade, but they are common throughout their range and have no special conservation status.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2011 in Amphibians

 

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Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens)

Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens)

Named for the spots across their green backs, northern leopard frogs will eat just about anything that crosses their paths.

Fast Facts

Type: Amphibian
Diet: Carnivore
Average life span in the wild: 2 to 4 years
Size: 3 to 5 in (7.6 to 12.7 cm)
Group name: Army
Protection status: Threatened
Did you know?
A genetic mutation gives rise to the Burnsi leopard frogs, which have no spots.

The northern leopard frog is perhaps most recognizable as the formaldehyde-soaked specimen in the high school lab tray.

Once the most abundant and widespread frog species in North America, leopard frogs were widely collected not only for dissection but for the food industry (frog legs) as well.

However, massive declines beginning in the early 1970s, particularly in Canada and the western United States, have significantly reduced their numbers. Scientists have not determined the cause of the declines, but it is likely a combination of ecological factors: pollution, deforestation, and water acidity.

Northern leopard frogs are so named for the array of irregularly shaped dark spots that adorn their backs and legs. They are greenish-brown in color with a pearly white underside and light-colored ridges on either side of their backs. They are considered medium-size, reaching lengths of 3 to 5 inches (7.6 to 12.7 centimeters), nose to rump. Females are slightly larger than males.

Their range is most of northern North America, except on the Pacific Coast. They generally live near ponds and marshes, but will often venture into well-covered grasslands as well, earning them their other common name, the meadow frog.

Leopard frogs will eat just about anything they can fit in their mouths. They sit still and wait for prey to happen by, then pounce with their powerful legs. They eat beetles, ants, flies, worms, smaller frogs, including their own species, and even birds, and garter snakes.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2011 in Amphibians

 

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Mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus)

Mudpuppy  (Necturus maculosus)

Mudpuppies spend their entire lives underwater and are distinguished as the only salamanders that make sound—a dog-like barking.

Fast Facts

Type: Amphibian
Diet: Carnivore
Average life span in the wild: 11 years
Size: 8 to 13 in (20 to 33 cm)
Did you know?
Fishermen who hook mudpuppies will often cut their line rather than touch these extremely slimy amphibians, believing incorrectly that they are poisonous.

Mudpuppies, also called waterdogs, are one of only a few salamanders that make noise. They get their name from the somewhat embellished notion that their squeaky vocalizations sound like a dog’s bark.

Among the largest of the salamanders, mudpuppies can exceed 16 inches (41 centimeters) in length, although the average is more like 11 inches (28 centimeters). Their range runs from southern central Canada, through the midwestern United States, east to North Carolina and south to Georgia and Mississippi.

Mudpuppies live on the bottoms of lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams, and never leave the water. They hide themselves in vegetation and under rocks and logs, emerging at night to feed on whatever prey they can catch, including crayfish, worms, and snails.

Mudpuppies are easily distinguishable by their bushy, red external gills, which they grow as larva and never lose. They have flat heads, wide tails, stubby legs, and feet with four distinct toes. Their bodies are gray or brownish-gray with blue-black spots.

Females lay large clutches of eggs and guard them until they hatch, a unique trait among salamanders.

Mudpuppies are common throughout their range and have no special conservation status. However, habitat loss and pollution is putting pressure on some local populations.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2011 in Amphibians

 

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Mexican Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum)

Mexican Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum)

The ghostly looking Mexican axolotl retains some of its larval features for life, including its feathery pink external gills.

Fast Facts

Type: Amphibian
Diet: Carnivore
Average life span in the wild: 10 to 15 years
Size: Up to 12 in (30 cm)
Weight: 2.11 to 8 oz (60 to 227 g)
Protection status: Endangered
Did you know?
Because they have the ability to regenerate lost body parts, axolotls are probably one of the most scientifically studied salamanders in the world.

The Mexican axolotl (pronounced ACK-suh-LAH-tuhl) salamander has the rare trait of retaining its larval features throughout its adult life. This condition, called neoteny, means it keeps its tadpole-like dorsal fin, which runs almost the length of its body, and its feathery external gills, which protrude from the back of its wide head.

Found exclusively in the lake complex of Xochimilco (pronounced SO-chee-MILL-koh) near Mexico City, axolotls differ from most other salamanders in that they live permanently in water. In extremely rare cases, an axolotl will progress to maturity and emerge from the water, but by and large, they are content to stay on the bottom of Xochimilco’s lakes and canals.

Close relatives of the tiger salamander, axolotls can be quite large, reaching up to a foot (30 centimeters) in length, although the average size is closer to half that. They are typically black or mottled brown, but albino and white varieties are somewhat common, particularly among captive specimens.

Axolotls are long-lived, surviving up to 15 years on a diet of mollusks, worms, insect larvae, crustaceans, and some fish. Accustomed to being a top predator in its habitat, this species has begun to suffer from the introduction of large fish into its lake habitat. Natural threats include predatory birds such as herons.

Populations are in decline as the demands of nearby Mexico City have led to the draining and contamination of much of the waters of the Xochimilco Lake complex. They are also popular in the aquarium trade, and roasted axolotl is considered a delicacy in Mexico, further shrinking their numbers. They are considered a critically endangered species.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2011 in Amphibians

 

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Green-Eyed Tree Frog (Litoria genimaculata)

Green-Eyed Tree Frog (Litoria genimaculata)

Green-eyed tree frogs get their name for the line of brilliant green that often adorns their eyebrows.

Type: Amphibian
Diet: Carnivore
Size: 2.8 in (7 cm)
Group name: Army
Did you know?
The green-eyed tree frog’s previous scientific name was serratta, which more closely describes the serrated skin flaps along the edges of its legs.

The green-eyed tree frog has adapted its appearance to blend in with the moss-covered rain forests of Queensland, Australia. The frogs’ coloration and markings vary with their specific habitat, but they usually have a brownish-green body with rust-colored blotches that match the lichen-covered rocks lining the creeks and streams they tend to live near.

This species gets its name not for green eyes per se, but rather for a line of brilliant green that often adorns the brow of each eye. They are also distinguishable by a row of skin flaps along their arms and legs, which resembles a serrated knife.

Females, which are significantly larger than males, grow to about 2.8 inches (7 centimeters). Males, which emit a mating call that sounds like a quiet tap-tap-tap, max out at about 1.8 inches (5 centimeters).

Green-eyed tree frogs are abundant in the rugged wet tropics of northeast Queensland, near the Great Barrier Reef. Their population is healthy in the region’s lower elevations, but, for unknown reasons, may have disappeared completely from the higher-altitude areas. They have suffered serious declines in the past, possibly due to a fungus or virus, but their numbers have rebounded, and they are not currently threatened or endangered.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2011 in Amphibians

 

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