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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Leopard Frog Shocker – a New Species is Discovered in New York City

Northern Leopard FrogsHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  As a native of NYC, I’m no stranger to the natural wonders to be found there.  In my time, I’ve filled quite a few notebooks with pleasant surprises…coyotes in Manhattan, Pine Voles in the Bronx, Red Salamanders on Staten Island, 1,000+ insect species, 13 herps, 250+ birds, red and gray fox on the grounds of the Bronx Zoo, and many more.  New species have been discovered as well, but most have been small and secretive, such as the undescribed centipede recently found living in Central Park.  But the existence of a sizable, gaudy frog that calls loudly each spring, living undetected within city limits, took the herpetological community very much by surprise.

Sharp Ears Lead to a New Species

Northern Leopard Frogs, Rana (Lithobates) pipiens, have been recorded in NYC, but are rarely encountered today.  The area also forms the northernmost limit of the range of the Southern Leopard Frog, R. pipiens; never common, it may now be locally extinct.

It was during a search for Leopard Frogs in the NYC borough of Staten Island that a Rutgers’ University doctoral student noticed that the frog calls he was hearing were unique… similar to, yet different from, those of both Northern and Southern Frogs.  Hybrids, perhaps? Read More »

Dart Poison Frog Care and Natural History – An Overview

Dendrobates auratusHello, Frank Indiviglio here. Poison Frogs (also known as Dart or Arrow Poison Frogs) exhibit an amazing array of colors and patterns – some so spectacular as to appear unreal. What’s more, they are active by day, exhibit complex social behaviors, and care for their tadpoles in “mammal-like” fashion…and are not at all shy about doing so. Small wonder they are among the most desirable of all amphibian pets! Once considered delicate captives, Poison Frogs are now regularly bred in captivity and may live to age 15 or beyond.

The following information can be applied to most available species, including Blue, Green and Black, Strawberry, Golden, and Phantasmal Poison Frogs. However, details vary; please write in for information concerning individual species.

Natural History

These 0.75 – 2 inch-long beauties are native to Central and South America. Identification by physical appearance alone is difficult, as some species exhibit a great many color variations. Their taxonomy is in flux, with various authorities recognizing between 180 and 300+ species. Read More »

Snake Hunting with Romulus Whitaker – Learning from the Master

Gharial and TurtleHello, Frank Indiviglio here. A life engrossed in herpetology has provided me with more adventures than I dared expect. From tagging Leatherback Turtles in St. Croix to heaving Green Anacondas from a Venezuelan swamp, I’ve been quite fortunate. But I’ve always known that natural wonders are also plentiful close at hand. In fact, one of my most exciting herping trips took place in a NYC suburb.

Note: I’d enjoy hearing about your own unforgettable (and “wish you could forget”!) herping experiences. Whether your tales involve garter snakes in the backyard or crocodile monitors in New Guinea, please write in so that I can share them with other readers, thanks.

Turtle Enthusiasts Gather at SUNY Purchase

In July of 1993, I attended an amazing, week-long international conference held in Westchester County, NY – The Conservation, Restoration and Management of Tortoises and Turtles. Hosted by the dedicated folks at the NY Turtle and Tortoise Society, this gathering of leading professionals and serious hobbyists has, in my experience, yet to be matched. The 500-page conference proceedings are an invaluable resource, and I highly recommend them to anyone with more than a passing interest in turtles and tortoises. You can order the proceedings, for the unbelievable price of $20, here. Read More »

Chorus Frogs and Chytrid Bacteria – a Look at the Confusing new Reports

Rana mucosaHello, Frank Indiviglio here. Are Pacific Chorus Frogs, Pseudacris regilla, driving other amphibians to extinction? A recent study revealed that the tiny frogs often carry a fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Chytrid) that has been implicated in the extinction of 200+ amphibian species. Chorus Frogs seem largely immune to the disease, but may spread it to other species that share their habitat, including the endangered Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog, Rana mucosa. However, I believe there is more to the story…

Resilient Chytrid Carriers

Researchers from San Francisco State University and the San Diego Zoo have confirmed high levels of Chytrid fungus among Pacific Chorus Frogs in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Unlike many amphibians, Chorus Frogs seem relatively unaffected by the fungus. Read More »

Live Food Care – Reptile, Amphibian, Tarantula and Scorpion Diets

Poplar Hawk MothHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  I’ve covered a number of less-commonly kept food animals in this care guide, along with pet trade staples.  Please consider as many as you can, as dietary variety is critical to the health of most pets.  The extra effort on your part will be very worthwhile…novel foods also inspire enthusiastic feeding responses, and may even stimulate reproduction. 

There is an endless supply of useful live foods, so please post your ideas and observations. 

Earthworms, Red Wigglers, Nightcrawlers (Lumbricus terrestris, others)

I’d like to see earthworms replace crickets as dietary staples for those species that accept them.  Highly nutritious, they are readily taken by most amphibians and turtles, some lizards, insectivorous snakes, and tarantulas.  Most reproduce rapidly when kept in a screen-covered plastic container with alternating layers of dead leaves and moist topsoil; they can also be stored under refrigeration.  Keep earthworms at 70 F or below if possible (certain species tolerate warmer temperatures). Read More »

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