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Leap Day the Frog Way

By Meghan Bartels
February 28, 2012
File under: Amphibians, Fun Facts

The real purpose of leap day may be to keep the calendar aligned with the seasons, but here at the rescue project, we’d like to believe the day is designed to honor our favorite leapers. To celebrate, we’ve put together some fun facts about frog leaping.

  • Not all frogs can leap, or even hop. The desert rain frog (Breviceps macrops) has legs that are too short to hop. Instead, it walks.
  • Male frogs of the genus Pipa are known to defend their territory by jumping at and then wrestling other males.
  • The New Guinea bush frog (Asterophrys turpicola) takes jump attacks one step further: before it jumps at a strange frog, it inflates itself and shows off its blue tongue.
  • Stumpffia tridactyla are normally slow-moving critters, but when they’re startled they can abruptly jump up to 8 inches. That doesn’t sound very far, but these little guys are less than half an inch long!
  • The Fuji tree frog (Platymantis vitiensis) may be the leaping stuntman of the frog world. Each time it leaps, it twists in the air—sometimes even 180 degrees—to throw predators off its trail.
  • The Larut torrent frog (Amolops larutensis) gets its name from a nifty leaping trick: it can jump into a fast-moving stream and back to its usual perch, the underside of a rock, without being affected by the current.
  • Similarly, the parachuting red-eyed leaf frog (Agalychnis saltator) gets its name because it speeds to mating opportunities by jumping from trees with finger-and toe-webbing spread wide.
  • The record for longest jump by an American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) recorded in a scientific paper is a little over 4 feet. But scientists who went to the Calaveras County Fair, which Mark Twain’s short story made famous for frog jumping, found that more than half the competitors bested that record—and one jumped more than 7 feet in one leap!
  • The Guinness Book of World Records doesn’t include any frogs for their leaping ability. But it does track human performance in frog jumping (jumping while holding one’s toes). There are records listed for the longest frog jump and the fastest frog jumping over 10 and 100 meters.

In honor of leap day celebrations being coordinated globally by Amphibian Ark, the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project made this video for a frog song written by Alex Culbreth.

 

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The Hidden Jewels of Appalachia

By Brian Gratwicke
December 16, 2011
File under: Amphibians, Conservation, Wildlife

See The Hidden Jewels of Appalachia Video Here

If you want to hit paydirt the Appalachian region is the world’s salamander El Dorado—home to over 70 salamander species.  Australia and Sub-Saharan Africa have no salamanders, Asia has 27 species the whole of Europe has 36 species. Central and South America have a bunch of salamander species, but they are mostly from just a few genera of lungless salamanders.

I lived in England for a while and saw what a big deal people make out of the few newt species there. People love ‘em. As a result, I was expecting to find a hardcore citizen-naturalist contingent of salamander fans in the USA.  What I found instead, was a hardcore biologist fanbase of salamanders who were acutely aware of these hidden jewels.  However, the more I spoke to non-biologists living in the Eastern USA, I learned that many people take these critters for granted, or have never noticed them. …read more of The Hidden Jewels of Appalachia here

 
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The Endangered Unknown: Green Salamander

By Peter Kleinhenz
October 7, 2011
File under: Amphibians, Conservation, Habitat Loss, Species Profiles, Wildlife

In isolated rock outcrops, scattered across a wide area of the eastern and southeastern United States, lives one of the most beautiful amphibians in the world. Dark-coloured with splotches of green speckled all over it, the Green Salamander (Aneides aeneus) blends in perfectly with its lichen-covered, rocky habitat.

This species has a very narrow, elongated body and a flattened head that helps it fit into deep crevices in rock faces, where it spends much of its time. Long toes help the Green Salamander cling to vertical, and often-wet, surfaces which it must climb on when it hunts for food. Green Salamanders are nocturnal, hunting for cave crickets, springtails, and beetles out on the rock faces they call home. …read more of The Endangered Unknown: Green Salamander here

 
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The Hidden Jewels of Appalachia

By Brian Gratwicke
August 9, 2011
File under: Amphibians, Animal Sightings, Wildlife

The Hidden Jewels of Appalachia from Joe Milmoe on Vimeo.

If you want to hit paydirt the Appalachian region is the world’s salamander El Dorado—home to over 70 salamander species.  Australia and Sub-Saharan Africa have no salamanders, Asia has 27 species the whole of Europe has 36 species. Central and South America have a bunch of salamander species, but they are mostly from just a few genera of lungless salamanders.

I lived in England for a while and saw what a big deal people make out of the few newt species there. People love ‘em. As a result, I was expecting to find a hardcore citizen-naturalist contingent of salamander fans in the USA.

What I found instead, was a hardcore biologist fanbase of salamanders who were acutely aware of these hidden jewels.  However, the more I spoke to non-biologists living in the Eastern USA, I learned that many people take these critters for granted, or have never noticed them. …read more of The Hidden Jewels of Appalachia here

 
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Why Red Spotted Newts Are Super Cool

By Valorie Titus
July 22, 2011
File under: Amphibians, Species Profiles, Wildlife

red-spotted-newt.jpg

Most everyone in the eastern United States at one point of their life or another spent time as a child flipping rocks in the woods only to find bright orange little salamanders.  These pretty little dudes are what we herpetologists call Notophthalmus viridescens, or the Red Spotted Newt.  They are still reasonably common throughout their range and are a joy to find due to their brilliant coloration.

Why would a tiny little salamander want to have bright colors so easy to see?  The bright coloration is basically saying “don’t eat me, I’ll make you sick!”, as they have toxic skin secretions that can harm even the largest of predators.  Once a predator tries to eat one, they are likely not going to try to eat another.  If something makes me sick, I certainly won’t want to eat it again.  What’s really cool is that you only see this coloration during what we call the newt’s “eft”, or juvenile stage.

Amphibians generally have several life stages as they develop.  What’s so neat about the red spotted newt is their juvenile stage is on land; they are born in the water and they return to the water when they reach adulthood! …read more of Why Red Spotted Newts Are Super Cool here

 
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The Endangered Unknown: Chinese Giant Salamander

By Peter Kleinhenz
July 17, 2011
File under: Amphibians, Endangered Species, Wildlife

pk-01-cs.jpg
http://animalinsworld.blogspot.com/2010/11/chinese-giant-salamande.html

For a crayfish inhabiting rocky, high-altitude streams in China, there is nothing more terrifying than the Chinese Giant Salamander, Andrias davidianus. These prehistoric beasts seem to come right out of the Mesozoic Era, yet they are still top predators today.

Growing over five feet long, these massive creatures are the largest amphibians on Earth and only their close relative, the Japanese Giant Salamander, even remotely approaches them in size. Crayfish, small fish, and frogs comprise their diet and these large amphibians need abundant food resources to maintain their incredible growth rates.

The poor eyesight these animals possess might seem to make hunting impossible in rushing currents, but sensory organs running the length of the salamander’s body allow it to find prey in even the most adverse conditions. There are many predators of young Chinese Giant Salamanders in their native habitat …read more of The Endangered Unknown: Chinese Giant Salamander here

 
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Citizen Science

By Valorie Titus
July 12, 2011
File under: Amphibians, Research

vt-fr-01.jpg

I was happy to see that with my last couple blog posts there were so many people excited about herpetology!

There were several folks that said they always wanted to work with reptiles and amphibians, but life took them in other directions.  There were also people that wanted to know how they could get involved.  Well, have I the blog for all of you today!

I am going to talk about what we call Citizen Science.  Citizen Science is basically research collaborations between scientists and citizen volunteers.  Whether you’re an elementary school student or a retired engineer, there are multitudes of opportunities to get involved in your local community; all you have to do is ask around! …read more of Citizen Science here

 
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A Blooming Passion: From Worms to Frogs

By James Buckley
June 22, 2011
File under: Amphibians, Children, Nature, Pets

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When I was three I had an obsession with worms. I simply couldn’t keep myself from digging and sifting through dirt to uncover my prized little friends. I would spend hours upon hours in the hot summer sun with a dirt-covered face, just to obtain a single smile possessed by attaining a beautiful worm.

To me there was nothing better, until the day a painter came over. I was told the he didn’t like children and to leave him alone, but naturally being an impatient child, I disobeyed my mothers harsh orders and waltzed up to him. I bluntly asked if he would relocate himself somewhere other than my favored dig site.

At first he stared at me in confusion and after three or four blank moments he chuckled. He replied yes and walked around the house. Before I could set up camp he had returned with an overflowing bucket of precious worms. …read more of A Blooming Passion: From Worms to Frogs here

 
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What the Hellbender!

By Valorie Titus
June 3, 2011
File under: Amphibians, Animal Protection, Ecosystems, Endangered Species

hellbender.jpg

Devil dog, grampus, mud-devil, Allegheny alligator, leverian water newt, vulgo, and my personal favorite, snot otter. These are the many names of one of my most favorite critters, the hellbender. The name “hellbender” was likely coined due to this amphibian’s appearance.

While herpetologists adore its wrinkly skin and beady little eyes, some people just don’t understand how anyone could love such a creature. It is said that hellbenders were named by early European settlers that thought “it was a creature from Hell, where it’s bent on returning,” but in fact, the animal is a fairly large, harmless, and in my opinion, very cute aquatic salamander.

Measuring nearly two feet in length as adults, the hellbender is one of the world’s largest species of salamanders. There are two subspecies: the eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) and the Ozark hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis bishopi). …read more of What the Hellbender! here

 
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A Blooming Passion: A Dream Come True

By James Buckley
May 30, 2011
File under: Amphibians, Pets

sticky-feet.jpg
(Sticky Feet himself)

Two years passed, in which time my mothers two cats both died of old age, and my little brother got one who he named Mighty to compensate for the lost of his favorite. I was six years old at that point and in first grade, still just as interested in frogs and the outdoors as much as id ever been.

I had even earned the name “frog boy” at my school due to my blatant admiration for the energetic amphibian. What solidified this title was the fact that I finally had a slippery companion of my own.

I had gotten a Whites leaf frog for my seventh birthday in February and named him Sticky Feet. …read more of A Blooming Passion: A Dream Come True here

 
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Whether you’re a scientist working in the field or a young person in your backyard, this is where you get to share your stories through pictures, videos and articles with the rest of the world. Without your voice, these stories go unshared, and our planet’s ecology, wildlife and natural resources go unexplored. Connect with each other and us and let’s enjoy this process of learning from one another.

 
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