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Current Field Research – Amphibian Behavior and Natural History

Strawberry Poison FrogMany interesting, current amphibian and reptile field research reports are published in professional journals such as Copeia, Herpetologica and Herpetological Review, and are not available on the internet.  Unfortunately, such journals are usually quite expensive (if well-worth the price).  From time to time I’ll provide summaries of some of the fascinating articles that I come across.  Today’s report covers Spring, 2020 publications: Clouded Salamanders, Red-Eyed Treefrogs, Green Frogs and Strawberry Poison Frogs.

Clouded Salamander, Aneides ferrus

Although known to climb trees, the Clouded Salamander is most often found (and studied) below fallen logs.  Researchers in southwestern Oregon were, therefore, surprised to find a pair of these salamanders in a tree cavity (Douglas Fir) 240 feet above the ground.  Red Tree Voles (small arboreal rodents) were also using the site for food storage.

It is not known if water contained within tree cavities might provide a breeding site for Clouded Salamanders.

Red-Eyed Treefrog, Agalychnis callidryas

Researchers in Costa Rica reported the first known example of a spider feeding upon amphibian eggs.  A Rusty Wandering Spider (Cupiennius getazi) was photographed while consuming Red-Eyed Treefrog eggs, which had been deposited on a leaf overhanging a small pond.  Interestingly, the spider appeared to defend its food source.

The eggs did not spontaneously hatch when disturbed by the spider, as they do when attacked by wasps and snakes.
Red-eyed Tree Frog

Strawberry Poison Frog, Oophaga pumilio

Although diurnal activity is the rule for Dendrobatids (Poison Frogs), male Strawberry Poison Frogs were observed calling and engaging in territorial battles after dark (Costa Rica)…perhaps its time to install night-viewing lights on our Poison Frog terrariums!

Green Frog, Rana clamitans

Long known for occasionally producing blue-colored Green Frogs, a stream in upstate NY has now yielded a brilliant yellow specimen.  The frog also sported a black blotch on its back, green above the eyes, and greenish-brown legs – quite a sight!

Further Reading

A video of a treefrog eggs hatching while being attacked by a snake, along with fascinating info and photos, is posted on the Warkentin Lab website.



Is There a Proposed Ban on Buying or Selling Amphibians in the USA?

Frozen Frogs LegsA recent announcement by the US Fish & Wildlife Service (US F&WS) has fueled rumors that the shipping of frog legs (please see photo) and the pet trade in live frogs and salamanders may soon be curtailed or banned.  This is not actually the case, but there will soon be an opportunity for people to register comments concerning the trade with the US government. Read More »

The Keeled Box Turtle – a Hardy Species in Need of Captive Breeding – Part 2

Keeled box turtleIn Part 1 of this article we looked at the natural history of the interesting but little-studied Keeled Box Turtle (also known as the Jagged-shelled or Indian Thorn Turtle, Pyxidea mouhotii).  Like many other turtles native to South and Southeast Asia, it is severely threatened by habitat loss and collection for the food trade, and would benefit from increased attention to captive reproduction. 

Keeping Keeled Box Turtles

Although little is known of their natural history, Keeled Box Turtles adjust well to captivity and soon lose their innate shyness.  A pair I received as adults 20 years ago are still alive and well today at the Staten Island Zoo. Read More »

The Natural History of the Leopard Tortoise – Part 1

The Leopard Tortoise Stigmochelys (formerly Geochelone) pardalis, stands out in both attractiveness and personality among a group of reptiles well known for possessing both attributes.  Although among the most responsive of reptile pets, their very specific husbandry needs must be met if they are to thrive.  An understanding of the Leopard Tortoise’s natural habitat and habits is very useful in helping to keep and breed them in captivity (please see Part II).  Read More »

Breeding the Green and Gold Bell Frog and Welcoming its Extinct Relative – Part 2

Please see Part I of this article for the exciting story behind the “re-discovery” of Australia’s Gold-Spotted Bell Frog (Litoria castanea), which was assumed by herpetologists to have been  extinct since the 1970’s.  Today I’d like to discuss my experiences breeding a close relative that sometimes appears in the pet trade, the Green and Gold Bell Frog (Litoria aurea). Read More »

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