Pickerel Frog Calling

Guest post by Wes Deyton, North Carolina.

Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris) by Wes Deyton, North Carolina.

Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris) by Wes Deyton, North Carolina.

The Pickerel frog is a small frog that can be found all throughout North America. It can be found from Maine to North Georgia. It is identified by what looks to be hand drawn squares on their bodies. Now that the weather is warming up, the frogs are back out and calling. Male frogs call during this time of the year in order to attract the female Frogs.

I took this video in a pond behind my house using a Canon Rebel T4i and Canon 100mm Macro Lens.

From Wikipedia, a cool fact about the Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris):
The skin secretions of a stressed pickerel frog are known to be toxic to other frogs, as many a novice frog catcher has found when he finds only the pickerel frog still alive in his bucket. These secretions can also be moderately irritating if they come in contact with the eyes, mucous membranes, or broken skin.

About Wes Deyton, nature photographer in North Carolina:
Wes Deyton, nature photographer in North CarolinaMy name is Wes Deyton. I live in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina.  I love to take my camera out into the woods and look for wildlife to photograph. I have a website www.lastmilephotography.com and a Facebook page with tons of Frog, Bird, and other wildlife pictures.


The Caretta Research Project

Guest post by David Veljacic

The Caretta Research Project is an organization working with loggerhead sea turtles nesting on Wassaw Island National Wildlife Refuge, just off the coast of Savannah, Georgia. The project takes volunteers weekly throughout the nesting and hatching season and immerses them in the fantastic world of wildlife fieldwork, giving them a great opportunity to work hands on with the animals.  I was fortunate to have had the honor of working with this group for seven years, three as a paying volunteer for a week each season, and four as an assistant island leader, working the entire season.

David Veljacic measures turtle

Here is an entry from one of my work “days.”  *I’ve added explanations where necessary*

July 3/4

7:30 am – we just got in from our dawn run; Lefty  *named so as her left rear flipper was missing; this prevented her from digging her own nests* came up and started nesting at 5:45am. Mike  *assistant director at the time*, and I had Rachel (volunteer) help Lefty dig the nest this time. She was SO excited, that’s Rachel not Lefty, Lefty was oblivious. I love having the volunteers do stuff, it’s such a happy thing. It’s time for bed.

10:30 am –got up, marked and GPSed nests on the South end; Kris  *director of the project* went North and took the few crew members who were awake birding, they saw the oyster catchers!, AND, AND the wood storks are at the dyke!

Body Surfing! Awesome!

loggerhead sea turtle

Found freshly dead stranded loggerhead 15 paces north of marker 63. Did a necropsy; 56cm, male, probable shrimp net kill. I have it buried and screened at marker 63. The shrimp boats are everywhere right now, dumping their by-catch for it to wash up on the beach. It’s terrible (unless You’re a ghost crab, then You’d be rollin’ in it!), all these poor little fish and things just dead. Not to mention the pung of rotting animals, I know I said, “not to mention”, but I’m a rebel, at least here, on paper. haha.

two frogs together

Bruce  *caretaker* came by, there was a gator in the ditch pipe beside his house that needed moving. Toughest catch so far! It’s not big, but it wedged itself good’n’tight in the pipe, took Mike and me ‘round half and hour to get it out so we could catch *and relocate* it.  5’ 3”. Showed the crew, then took them to let it go in South Pond where it can’t cause any trouble. The toads are EVERYWHERE! With females dragging clumps of squabbling males clinging desperately to them. . . and the constant trill, it’s just so amazing. Found a bat caught and spun up by a golden silk spider (insert full body shivers here). Rolled some logs, caught a couple of ground skinks, giant eyed click beetles,  AND, AND a scarlet snake! Found a king snake predating a yellow belly slider nest.

David Veljacic with alligator

So . . . shortly after arriving back at the cabin we noticed that we were covered in seed ticks. Covered! I’m surprised that I have any blood left; but, after sitting and picking at ourselves, and each other monkey style I think we’re OK.

8:45 pm – time to get ready to cruse the beach for lovely ladies  *turtles.*

11:25 pm – Holy Carp! First two runs, swamped! Both ends! Back at cabin for quick break. COFFEE!!! SSK 416 dry ran  *a dry run is when a turtle crawls up the beach but chooses not to nest for various reasons* twice, both again, between markers 10 and 13  *markers are spaced 100 meters apart and are used for locating nests, among other things.* I got my favourite neophyte of the season, SSX 474 / SSX 475 again, that’s three for three for her and I this season, will we see each other again? Had 5 nests on my end and 4 on Kris’, we both had to leave people at turtles to carry on patrolling, thank goodness Bev, Joe, Tom and Mary-Ellen (volunteers) know what to do. Great week for the new team members too!

baby sea turtles

11:45 pm –  Oops, time to head back out.

6:35 am – Just in from a busy night, SSK 416 dry ran three more times before nesting 23 paces north of marker 11. My crew got 8 nests, we had to relocate one with 98 eggs, it was laid below the high tide line; Bev digs a mighty fine nest. Kris’ crew got 9 nests, 0 dry runs. 17 nests in ONE night! Kris got The Holy Roller *named due to a hole in the right rear margin of her carapace*

Now for a quick cup of coffee then I’m taking Mary-Ellen, Bev, and Joe to the Fish and Wildlife hut to do bird banding with Peter *the Fish and Wildlife Ranger in charge of the refuge.*

photographing sea turtles

12:20 pm – Back from banding. How about those horny (if You have found this diary and, for some reason, decide to read it to a small child, please feel free to substitute “amorous” for “horny”) dolphins off the Fish and Wildlife dock?!! I wish that I had taken my camera this morning, they were incredible! There were five of them leaping and cavorting about, with their bright pink bellies and their pointy red rockets waving about like flagpoles. They were at it for a long time before moving out of sight.

We banded 3 male and four female painted buntings!, a pair of blue birds, blue jays, cardinals, Carolina chickadees, white-eyed vireos, a black and white warbler, Carolina wrens (my faves., they’re so feisty!), AND, AND I got a humming bird on my last run! It was so tiny and delicate, what a beautiful wee thing. I brought it to Peter not knowing that he doesn’t band hummers, I wish I’d known, would have saved the poor little thing a walk. Oh yeah, I almost forgot (like I really could), we found a small Eastern diamond back on the trail!! Paul is coming next week to specifically band painted buntings and would like my help. Are You kidding me?! I’m in!

Um . . . why are there 6 squirrel tree frogs in my coffee mug?

Time for bed.

frog by david veljacic


Live Bullfrog Trade Helping to Spread Deadly Fungus

A Frogs Are Green reader alerted us to a recent Dot Earth (New York Times) blog post by Andrew C. Revkin, “Genetic Study Finds Bullfrog Trade is Prime Pathway For Devastating Amphibian Fungus.”

University of Michigan mycologist Tim James and colleagues conducted a genetic analysis and have found that the global trade of live bullfrogs is helping to spread the deadly chytrid fungus, which has devastated worldwide amphibian populations. The results were published in the journal Molecular Ecology.

As Revkin notes, it isn’t clear why the fungus is devastating to amphibians in some areas, but seems to be harmless to those in other areas. For example, although there are deadly strains in the Northeast, there are no chytrid-related declines reported. Environmental conditions or other issues might account for this.

The researchers examined the role of bullfrog farming in spreading the chytrid fungus between the forests and frog farms of Brazil and then to the United States and Japan. They collected and analyzed bullfrogs sold at Asian food shops in seven U.S. cities and found that 41 percent of the frogs were infected with chytrid fungus, which is harmless to humans. Frogs in these shops are imported live primarily from farms in Taiwan, Brazil and Ecuador and sold as food for their legs.


“A lot of the movement of this fungus is related to the live food trade, which is something we should probably stop doing,” James said. “We don’t need to have millions of live frogs being shipped from foreign countries into the United States.”

For more information: Press release from the University of Michigan


Guest post: A Herpetologist Chases Frogs with Tails

We were so pleased to receive a guest post from Sara E. Viernum, a herpetologist with over 10 years of experience chasing snakes and salamanders around the U.S. When she’s not chasing reptiles and amphibians in the field, Sara is blogging about them on her website The Wandering Herpetologist, which is devoted to all things reptile and amphibian related. She currently resides in San Antonio, Texas, with her wonderful husband and her pet milk snake, Nyarla The Crawling Chaos. Sara also has a Facebook page.

For two field seasons in 2010 and 2011 I had the pleasure of hunting for aquatic amphibians in the Tillamook State Forest in Western Oregon. I was helping a friend with her graduate research focusing on the effects of fish passable culverts on aquatic amphibians. We spent many, many fun-filled hours crawling around in streams in the forest looking for Pacific giant salamanders (Dicamptodon tenebrosus), Columbia torrent salamanders (Rhyacotriton kezeri), and Pacific tailed frogs (Ascaphus truei).

Male Pacific tailed frog showing his "tail". Photo courtesy Sara Viernum.

The tailed frogs were such interesting amphibians. I had never seen these strange little frogs before we started the stream surveys. The tadpoles have specialized sucker mouths that they use to hold onto the rocks in the fast-flowing currents of the streams. They will also adhere to a collection bucket and your hand. If that’s not strange enough the adult males have a little “tail.” The “tail” is actually an extended cloaca that is used for internal fertilization. The Ascaphus frogs are the only frog species that have internal fertilization.

Pacific tailed froglets showing color variations. Photo courtesy Sara Viernum.

Tailed frogs are members of the Leiopelmatidae family (Tail-wagging frogs). There are only two species in this family found in North America – the Pacific tailed frog and the Rocky Mountain tailed frog (Ascaphus montanus). The family is considered to be one of the most primitive. The frogs cannot vocalize (call) and they do not have an external ear or a middle ear bone. Their closest relatives are the Leiopelma frogs from New Zealand which are also considered to be primitive frogs too.

Pacific tailed frog tadpole suctioned to Sara's hand. Photo courtesy Sara Viernum.

The Pacific tailed frogs could be quite common in some of the streams and were always a treat to find, although it was sometimes difficult to get to tadpoles to let go of your hand.

Pacific tailed frog tadpole showing its sucker mouth. Photo courtesy Sara Viernum.


The Map of Life: Where in the World Are Frogs?

A research team involving Yale University and the University of Colorado Boulder has developed a first public demonstration version of its “Map of Life,” an ambitious Web-based project designed to show the distribution of all living plants and animals on the planet.

According to their press release, the demo version allows anyone with an Internet connection to map the known global distribution of almost 25,000 species of terrestrial vertebrate animals, including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and North American freshwater fish.

The researchers compiled information about the animals from different sources: field guides, museum collections, and wildlife checklists from scientists, conservation organizations, and “citizen scientists.” They hope that scientists and informed amateurs will supply new or missing information about the distribution and abundance of particular species.

The Map of Life allows users to see several levels of detail for a given species — at its broadest, the type of environment it lives in, and at its finest, specific locations where the species’ presence has been documented. One function allows users to click a point on the map and generate a list of vertebrate species in the surrounding area. More functions will be added over time, according to the team.

the map of life

“It is the where and the when of a species,” said Walter Jetz, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale and the project lead. “It puts at your fingertips the geographic diversity of life. Ultimately, the hope is for this literally to include hundreds of thousands of animal and plant species and show how much or indeed how little we know of their whereabouts.”

Eventually they hope that anyone, anywhere will be able to use their mobile devices to instantly pull up animal and plant distributions and even get a realistic assessment on the odds of encountering a particular species of wildlife.

The researchers  have created two video demos.


At Frogs Are Green, we think this will be a great project both as a learning tool (you can plug in a species name and get an overview of information about the species and where the species is found), but  it will also give scientists a tool to understand the biodiversity of a particular area.

Click, to try out the Map of Life.


If You Can Make It Here: New frog species discovered in NYC

Last week’s discovery of a new frog species in New York City was one of our favorite recent amphibian news stories. The story was picked up by newspapers both across the country and worldwide, from the BBC to the News Pakistan. We especially liked the story, not only because we are both native New Yorkers, born within an hour’s drive of where this frog was discovered, but also because it was discovered by a scientist from New Jersey (our adopted state.)

So here’s the story, as reported by the New York Times and New Jersey Newsroom.com:

While doing research in Staten Island (one of New York City’s boroughs) in 2009, Jeremy A. Feinberg, a doctoral candidate in ecology and evolution at Rutgers University, heard an unusual frog call.  Instead of the “long snore” or “rapid chuckle” he would normally expect from a  leopard frog, he heard instead a short, repetitive croak. Feinberg suspected this frog might be a new species. He teamed up with Cathy Newman, a geneticist completing a master’s degree in genetics at the University of Alabama, to test the frog’s DNA.

Jeremy Feinberg

Newman compared this frog’s DNA with the DNA of southern and northern leopard frogs, which range widely north and south of New York City. These frogs look quite similar to each other, but the results indicated that this frog’s lineage was genetically distinct.

Newly discovered leopard frog in NYC. Photo by Brian Curry, Rutgers University

Feinberg believes this leopard frog once inhabited Manhattan and the other boroughs. He has found specimens in the Meadowlands and the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey, as well as in Putnam and Orange Counties in New York. Some frogs were also collected in central Connecticut.

What’s unusual about this finding is that new frog species are usually found in the remote rainforests of Indonesia and similar places, and not within the shadow of one of the world’s most densely populated urban areas.

The New York Times has asked readers to come up with a name for this new frog. They have listed some attributes of this frog to give you inspiration for a name, including the fact that the geographic center of the frog’s range is Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

How about The Green Bomber? After all, there are Yankee fans all over the tri-state area.

More information about the discovery:

The findings are to be published in an issue of the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, but are currently available online. Much of the genetic analysis was performed in Professor  H. Bradley Shaffer’s laboratory at the University of California at Davis, where he worked until recently.

Photo of Jeremy Feinberg, courtesy of New Jersey Newsroom.com