Topic: Frog Profiles
Eastern American Toad
Green Salamander Aneides aeneus
The Green Salamander is of the Plethodontidae family (lungless salamanders). Of all the Indiana salamanders, it is probably the easiest to identify by its green lichen pattern, no other Indiana salamander has a green coloring. It is also the only one with squared off toes. Its one of seven salamanders in the Aneides genus, and the only one found in Indiana. This salamander reaches 4 to 5 inches in length with 14 or 15 costal grooves. It has a flat head and body with a rounded tail. The underside is usually light and unmarked and sometimes has yellow at the base of the legs. The Indiana population is disjunct from the normal Allegheny Plateau and Blue Ridge Mountains range. Rocky outcrops that are moist, but not wet are preferred habitat. Many also spend time in the tree canopy. In Indiana, they are only found in two locations in Crawford County in sandstone/limestone outcrops. They are usually in the highest part of the outcrops. Males can de distinguished during the June-July breeding season by a round mental gland under the chin. Females lay about 18 eggs in a nesting crevice and brood their clutch for two to three months. Young hatch as miniature adults with shorter tails. These salamanders are usually observed at night foraging for small beetles, ants, mites, mosquitoes and other small insects. Their primary predators are ring-necked and garter snakes. They were discovered in Indiana in August of 1993 by Robert Madej while doing surveys on woodrats. They are currently listed as an Endangered Species in Indiana, though there is talk of lowering their protected status and putting a "no collect" moratorium on them as with the Eastern Box Turtle.
Crawford County is the only place to find the Green Salamander in IN.
Sources: Minton, Sherman A. 2001, Amphibians and Reptiles of Indiana (revised second edition), Indiana Academy of Science
Williams, MacGowan, Kingsbury, Walker 2006, Salamanders of Indiana, Purdue Extension
Lannoo, Michael (Madej, Robert), 1998, Status and Conservation of Midwestern Amphibians, University of Iowa Press
Lannoo, Michael (Pauley, Watson) 2005 Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species, Regents of the University of California
Zimmerman, Steve December 2006, Salamander Trek, the search for Aneides, Reptiles Magazine
Blackburn, Laura M., Priya Nanjappa, and Michael J. Lannoo. 2002. US Amphibians Distribution Maps. Ball State University and Muncie Center for Medical Education, Indiana University School of Medicine, Muncie, Indiana
I also have a WHite's Treefrog I use for my amphibian programs. She was going to be released into Indiana by an owner that didn't want it anymore. Luckily a Camp Ranger got it first and called me. Now She helps me explain to children why you should never release a pet.
Ode to a toad
"Elvis" was an American toad a neighbor child brought me. When they brought her to me she had a strange lip curl, which is why I named her Elvis. She seemed to be eating alright, but had a bit of a heavy breathing problem due to the fact that her lip didn't qite seal all the time. I kept her in quarentine for a while and she seemed to get better. I decided to include her in my education programs I put on for schools and local organizations wanting an amphibian program. She of course was a big hit. I was able to show the difference in the American and Fowlers toads with live animals, rather than just a photo that they wouldn't remember. She was a beautiful ambassador for her species and I believe that many people, especially kids got a better understanding for amphibians and how important they are to the environment as well as to us "Humans". She apparently passed last nigth. When I went to feed her today, she was dead. She will be missed. I imagine she died from reasons related to her lip, though I will never know for sure. Please remember her when ever you are out in your yard (in warmer months) and find one of these beautiful animals. Every toad eats about 10,000 pests each year from you yard and garden. Put out a toad house in your garden so they will stick around. They are truely an American icon. They will start calling around the end of March with a melodic trill that lasts about 30 seconds. When you hear this song, smile and know that things are good.
Farewell Elvis, may you rest in peace.
Spring Peeper Pseudacris crucifer
The Spring Peeper is a small frog heard much more often than seen. According to Frogwatch USA, it is the most abundant frog heard in the United States. This small treefrog can be from fawn to yellow gray to dark brown, but usually has an “X” on its back, occasionally broken up (the origin of it’s Latin name, crucifer). Small toe pads are found at the end of slightly webbed feet. It is found in most of the eastern half of the US and statewide in Indiana. Its size ranges from 19-33.5mm with females slightly larger than males, and northern regions slightly smaller. The males call is a loud “PEEP” and when large choruses call it sounds like sleigh bells. During their breeding season is the best time to find them. In early March to early May, large groups migrate to their breeding pools. The calls can be deafening! Occasionally found and heard during the summer, winter and fall. I heard one in Clinton County in September and have read reports of callers in Southern IN this January. Though very abundant, their populations are localized near woodland areas. Source: Minton, Sherman A. 2001, Amphibians and Reptiles of Indiana (revised second edition), Indiana Academy of ScienceInkley, Douglas B. 2006, Final Report Assessment of Frogwatch USA Data 1998-2005, for USGS
Here is a good article explaining the natural history of the gray treefrog in Minnesota. Something it doesn't mention is that there are two species of Gray treefrogs through much of the range, including Minnesota. The two are identical in appearance but have unique calls. One also has twice the chromosomes as the other. The two species are:
Cope's Gray Treefrog
If you find a gray treefrog, be sure to see which species, if not both species is in your area.
This is something I haven't done before, but I am going to feature different frogs and have links to their Natural History. I will probably do my own for some of Indiana's native species that I encounter. This is the Forest Green Treefrog or Moriao-gaeru in it's native Japan. Rhacophorus arboreus to the world.
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