Happy Holidays!

We are grateful for all of the support that we have received this year and look forward to another terrific year of saving some of Mother Nature’s most valuable gifts.

If you’re feeling in the holiday spirit, please consider giving frogs a little boost by:

  • Donating money to the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project. Even the smallest donation can help us provide a safe haven for frogs.
  • Text FROG to 20222 to give $5 to the project (message and data rates apply).
  • Help us spread the word, whether on Facebook, Twitter or at your holiday dinner party.
  • Plan a trip to Panama to volunteer for the project. You’ll play a pivotal role in saving amphibians and have the experience of a lifetime. Don’t believe us? Check out what former volunteers have had to say.

Happy holidays from the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project!

Climbing the night away!

Green climbing toad (Incillius coniferus)

Green climbing toad (Incillius coniferus)

Cute Frog of the Week: December 26, 2010

Most of us normally don’t imagine toads as arboreal creatures because we normally have to avoid stepping on them on the ground while gardening or hiking in the woods. But the green climbing toad is quite adept at, well, climbing. This nocturnal toad can be found high up in trees and shrubs, ranging from humid lowlands in eastern Nicaragua to Ecuador, though most have been found in Central America.

These toads have a stout body with small skin folds across the chest as well as on their heels and knees. They can be found in a variety of colors from yellow-green to olive green, and are sometimes even a dull gray to brown. Their color patterns often tend to be either solid or have contrasting lighter and darker blotches and/or gold spots.

In addition, they are covered in warts, some of which are dark in color and can even be somewhat spiky in texture. Their long fingers and toes are slightly webbed and have tiny horizontal ridges on them. Their fingers and toes are also different lengths.

The green climbing toad is not endangered, but the largest threat to this species is the loss of its habitat from deforestation, mining, logging and urbanization.

Photo by Brian Gratwicke, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

Every week the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project posts a new photo of a cute frog from anywhere in the world with an interesting, fun and unique story to tell. Be sure to check back every Monday for the latest addition.

Send us your own cute frogs by uploading your photos here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/cutefrogoftheweek/

Celebrating Frogs at the Holidays

Paper frogs

Defenders of Wildlife's Cindy Hoffman gets in the holiday spirit this year with oragami frogs.

If you love frogs and toads like I do, you probably have a few around the house or garden. Frogs play an important role in nature by controlling insects. But they have been worshiped for generations for other reasons. The Egyptians looked upon the frogs as a symbol of life and fertility and have their own frog goddess known as “Heqet.” The Chinese worship the “three legged frog” for bringing wealth and good fortune. Frog decorations are used to attract wealth and prosperity. These frogs are also closely associated with the art of feng shui. And Celtic lore associates the frog as a symbol of magic and a form that initiates the “leaping” from one world to another.

This week, as I decorated for the upcoming holidays gatherings at my house, I thought it would be fun to decorate with frogs. I found this great website that shows how to make paper frogs, so I thought I would give it a try.

As we celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, the Winter Solstice and the New Year, why not incorporate frogs into your festivities? And make a special new year’s wish that the good folks dedicating their lives to finding a cure for chytrid fugus hit the jackpot this year. We need our frogs around.

Cindy Hoffman, Defenders of Wildlife

Polka-dotted beauty.

Fringe-limbed tree frog (Cochranella euknemos)

Fringe-limbed tree frog (Cochranella euknemos)

Cute Frog of the Week: December 19, 2011

The beautiful fringe-limbed tree frog is named for the small amount of whitish, fleshy fringe along the edges of its lower arms, hands, legs and feet. However, it is most memorable for its distinct colors—a deep blueish-green covered with many raised, yellowish-white spots. Their skin is also somewhat transparent, and their bones appear greenish through their skin. The fringe-limbed tree frog does not start out this beautiful, however. As if having to grow into their colors, the tadpoles, with their very long tails, are pale in color.

Because of this frog’s particularly long snout, its eyes are completely visible from the front of its head, unlike some other frogs, whose eyes can only be seen from the side. The specific name, euknemos, derives from Greek and means “with beautiful legs.” The male mating call sounds like a rapidly repeated “creep, creep, creep.”

These frogs can be found in humid Central and South American forests. They are more abundant in Columbia, but rare in Costa Rica and Panama because of deforestation.

Photo by Brian Gratwicke, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

Every week the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project posts a new photo of a cute frog from anywhere in the world with an interesting, fun and unique story to tell. Be sure to check back every Monday for the latest addition.

Send us your own cute frogs by uploading your photos here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/cutefrogoftheweek/

A Family of Frogs

Strawberry poison dart frog

This species of poison dart frog is well known for its attentiveness to its children. (Photo by Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo)

With Thanksgiving just past and Christmas around the corner, this is a time of year many people turn toward family. While frogs are not the most social of animals and certainly do not celebrate the holidays, they do have a wide range of ways to care for their young.

The vast majority of frogs and toads reproduce by laying eggs in streams, ponds, vernal pools, or any other body of water they can find in the spring. The American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) and spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) are two common examples native to the United States. In both species, males stake out territories on the edge of a pond and call loudly to attract females. Once they mate, the eggs are laid in or near the water. After this, mom and dad are basically out of the picture.

However, these tadpoles are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. In some species, they gather in large groups, oftentimes with siblings. Amazingly, even in this mostly hands-off approach to parenting, family still comes first!

Now, we can head to some of the more dedicated parents of the amphibian world.

First up is a species of poison dart frog well known for their attentiveness to their children, the strawberry poison frog (Oophaga pumilio). This little frog is common in the rainforests of Central America, from Nicaragua to Panama. The eggs of the strawberry poison frog are not laid in the water so the males take up the duty of carrying water in their cloaca to keep the clutch of eggs moist. These dedicated fathers can even move around to take care of multiple clutches at the same time!

After one to two weeks, the eggs hatch and the female takes over care. She spreads out the tadpoles between small pools of water in bromeliads by carrying them on her back, giving each one its own pool. Finally, she will continue to care for the tadpoles by feeding them unfertilized eggs until they are large enough to begin metamorphosis.

Luckily, the strawberry poison frog is listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN because of its large and widespread population.

It cannot be said that all male frogs abandon their babies before they are adults. Darwin’s frog (Rhinoderma darwinii) is almost unique in the extraordinary effort males put into caring for their young.

After the eggs are laid and fertilized, the male stays around to guard the eggs. A few days before they hatch, he gulps them down into his vocal sac, where they will grow and develop all the way into adults. There are special glands in the male’s vocal sac that secrete food for up to 19 tadpoles that he may be carrying. Once they are old enough, the young hop out of dad’s mouth to start life on their own.

Darwin’s frog is currently listed as vulnerable by the IUCN due to habitat destruction in its native country of Chile.

As you can see, not all frogs take the hands-off approach our native species do in the United States. Some frogs are very dedicated parents. This season at dinner, ask yourself (or your family!): Are we really so different from frogs?

- Andrew Franks, Zoo New England

 

It’s not that I’m afraid of heights.

Caracas snouted treefrog (Scinax rostratus)

Caracas snouted treefrog (Scinax rostratus)

Cute Frog of the Week: Dec. 5, 2011

Although considered a tree frog, don’t go looking for this species too high up in the trees. Even though they are great climbers, these drably colored frogs seem to prefer to stay mainly on vegetation that is lower to the ground and that tends to grow around small ponds. They can be recognized by their raspy call: “Yek Yek Yek.”

These frogs can be found in the lowlands of central Panama to Colombia and northern Venezuela. They prefer subtropical or tropical forests, moist savanna, and freshwater marshes, but have also been seen in pastureland and rural gardens. Their common name comes from Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, and their Latin name is derived from the Greek word skinos, which means quick or nimble.

While the Caracas snouted tree frog has a stable wild population, the species is threatened by habitat destruction.

Photo by Mauricio Rivera Correa.

Every week the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project posts a new photo of a cute frog from anywhere in the world with an interesting, fun and unique story to tell. Be sure to check back every Monday for the latest addition.

Send us your own cute frogs by uploading your photos here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/cutefrogoftheweek/