Five Days Only – Amazon

Here’s a great opportunity to support the Saving Nature Now – Green Team program that empowers our youth to take actions that directly help nature and encourage sustainable living.

Normally when you purchase from Amazon through the smile portal, we get a 1/2% donation from them (at no cost to you).  But for the next 5 days, they are bumping up the donation massively!

Through Nov 2, AmazonSmile is donating 5% (ten times the usual amount) to Saving Nature Now when you shop at smile.amazon.com/ch/46-3678115. #AmazonSmile #StartWithaSmile

If you will be making purchases for the holidays, why not get them in the next couple of days and help Saving Nature Now and the Green Team program while you are at it.

You can learn more about The Green Team here: http://savingnaturenow.org/greenteam/



Frog Calendars Available

2019 Calendar Monthly ExampleAbout a fourth of the 2019 Frog Calendars leaped out of here in the first two weeks.  If you want one or more for holiday gift giving, you need to get them now before they are gone.

You can get them at this link: http://arkansasfrogsandtoads.org/frogs-toads-calendar/

The calendar contains images of common Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana frogs and toads taken by subscribers to The Frog Watcher email newsletter (free).  You can sign up for the newsletter HERE.


Frog Fact check

As for the frog images: No one I know would look at those images and think someone was trying to make you believe that frogs don crowns in the wild.  Of course, the images are made up to tie in with the parts of the article that portray frogs as a cultural treasure.  Perhaps someone kissed a prince who turned into a frog!  Also, these frogs are the species Banded Bullfrog, Kaloula pulchra.  They are so named because of the broad white stripes running down each side of their bodies.

Let me go through this article paragraph by paragraph to point out the FACTS so we aren’t misled into thinking the article is FAKE.

Paragraph 1: The Dusky Gopher Frog is listed in the top 100 most endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Zoological Society of London.  The description of its behavior is consistent with The Frogs and Toads of North America by Lang Elliott, et al.

Paragraph 2: The referenced pond in Mississippi is in a 10 km2 area in Harrison County.  The case of Weyerhaeuser Co. vs the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was the first case heard by the Supreme Court on October 1st to begin its new session.  USFWS is making the case that additional land needs to be protected outside the limits of the pond.  Weyerhaeuser is arguing that frogs shouldn’t stop timbering.

Paragraph 3: According to the IUCN, 41% of amphibians are currently threatened with extinction.  The normal background rate of extinction is to lose from 1 to 10 species every ten years per million species.  Since there are about 5,000 frog and toad species (Anura), we should expect to lose one species every 200 to 2,000 years.  According to IUCN data published in 2006, 32 frog species had gone extinct since 1980 and 387 additional species were listed as Critically Endangered.  The 32 number is somewhere between 250 and 2,500 times the normal extinction rate for frogs and toads.  The “Chytrid” fungus has been around for a long time but was kept in check in local environments.

Paragraph 4: Moving frogs around the world has essentially turned the Chytrid fungus into an invasive species for frogs and toads in other localities.  According to Smithsonian Magazine, African Clawed Frogs were used in pregnancy tests and could be a vector in spreading the Chytrid fungus.  Read about it here: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/doctors-used-to-use-live-african-frogs-as-pregnancy-tests-64279275/

Paragraph 5: Almost all our Bullfrogs used for frog leg dinners are imported.  Bullfrogs are immune to the effects of the Chytrid fungus but carry it into new habitats.

Paragraph 6: This seems like common knowledge to me and is certainly poetic.  Matsuo Basho wrote this haiku poem (5-7-5) in the 1600s – “furu ike ya, kawazu tobi komu, mizu no oto” which I like to translate as “Peaceful, ancient pond; a young frog leaps into it; the splash fades away.”  When I conduct frog workshops, almost everyone raises their hand when I ask who has dissected a frog in high school.

Paragraph 7: Frogs are predators and prey.  They eat small rodents and birds, mosquito larvae, lots of insects, and even other frogs – essentially anything live that can fit into their mouths.  They are also prey for big birds, snakes, and mammals.

Paragraph 8: Frogs have been called an indicator species like the canary in the coal mine.  Since they have both aquatic and terrestrial life stages, they are susceptible to poor quality habitat in water and on land.  They absorb moisture and oxygen through their porous skin.  Any environmental toxins will be seen in frog and toad populations before human populations which is why their high extinction rate should be a concern to all of us.  As for the connection to rain, Green Tree Frogs have been nicknamed “Bell frogs” indicating that rain is on its way.  The peeping Spring Peepers are called the harbingers of spring.

Paragraph 9: Kermit the Frog has always been one of my favorite kid’s characters.  I’m not at all familiar with “Pepe” the frog.  Wikipedia has an extensive history of the Pepe mime if you are interested.  There was no need to mention Pepe in this factual article about frogs and extinction.

Paragraph 10: Same comment here as for Pepe above.

Paragraph 11: This paragraph ties back in to Paragraph 3.  The fact that frogs and toads have been around for more then 200 million years doesn’t insure their survival.  Land dinosaurs were around for almost 200 million years before habitat loss wiped them out.

Paragraph 12: In fact, the Golden Toad has not been seen in the cloud forest since the 1980s.  People still book ecological tours around the world, but how long will that last when all the species we want to observe are extinct?  The Gastric brooding frog is just one example of scores of adaptations that animals and plants have made to accommodate their habitats.  One thing they can’t adapt to is total loss of habitat.

Paragraph 13: Zoos do, in fact, take care of lots of endangered species.  You can read about their efforts here under the title, “Field Conservation.”  https://www.aza.org/field-conservation

Paragraph 14:  Besides frogs and toads being an important thread of the biodiversity fabric, they are fun, non-threatening, and a great gateway to get children outside and exploring again.  The world would be a lot more sterile for us if there were no frogs singing us to sleep and birds waking us up.



Frogs and Toads in Winter

Frogs and Toads Surviving the Winter

Frogs and toads create winter homes called hibernaculums. While in their retreats, their metabolisms slow down to the bare minimum so they can survive the winter with stored energy only.  There are three main strategies that frogs and toads use to survive freezing winter temperatures:

  • An Underground Shelter – Around here the ground temperature below the frost line is a toasty 55 to 60 degrees.  All the toads and a few frogs spend the winter in an underground burrow where there is no chance that they will freeze.  Their bodily functions slow down considerably, but don’t stop.  Frogs that use this strategy include the Crawfish Frog.
  • A Watery Deep Sleep – Did you know that water density increases as it gets colder – that is, down to a point.  The most dense water occurs at about 39 degrees fahrenheit.  Colder than that water becomes less dense.  So during the winter, the water at the bottom of a pond will be no colder than 39 degrees because the less dense, colder water will not sink as low.  That bottom water is just right for a long winter nap for the aquatic frogs – Bullfrog, Leopard Frog, Pickerel Frog, and Green Frog.  They lay on the bottom (not under the mud) in a state of torpor and absorb oxygen through their skin from the water.
  • Roughing it Topside – Frogs can get out of the wind, but can’t avoid the cold if they stay topside during the winter.  All the tree frogs find crevices in rocks and tree trunks and under leaf piles to stay protected.  They are particularly cold-hardy by shutting down almost completely.  If you found one of them during the winter, you would think they were dead.  Spring Peepers create a kind of internal “anti-freeze” that keeps them from freezing.  Wood Frogs do the same thing and are the only frogs that can survive north of the Arctic Circle.

What can you do to help frogs and toads in the winter?

  • During your Fall yard cleanup, leave a few leaf piles in the corners.  They will not only help over-wintering tree frogs, but lots of other creatures will also appreciate it.
  • If you have a pond on your property or intend to build one, try to make it deep enough so that it doesn’t freeze solid during the winter (18″ or more in the middle).
  • Do a search online for toad houses, abodes, or hibernaculums.  It can be as simple as a two-foot long piece of 4″ plastic pipe sunk into the ground on a 30 degree angle and filled with sand and composted leaves.  The opening should be about 1/2 exposed.

A Boy’s Frog Adventures

A Frog Adventure

A Boy, a Frog, a Toad, and Adventures

The star of the story, when it comes to creatures, A frog to be specific, is usually my son, Gibson. Most often toads  and frogs are found during my time in our home gym. As I am working away the stresses of life, maintaining what’s left of a college sports figure, and practicing what I preach as a Coach.  It is  then that frogs and Gibson unite. Rain or shine this boy finds frog friends and pursues funny business…as defined by an adult. To him it is life and it is life lived to the full wild spirit inside my young boy. And to be sure we give proper credit, his sister Lorelai, is as adventurous in a less wild way and enjoys a more artistic and sentimental adventure with our yard and frogs, even motherly at times.

Story A: Froggy Funny Business on Thursday with Mom and Frank
It was mid spring when he found a medium sized Frog (now called Frank) as he wondered the back yard with a toy truck looking for fun as only a boy can. Frank and Gibson had been in the backyard while I had been working out and running the hill. But I won’t ever forget as I ran up the hill to see Gibson on the trampoline laughing with his hands cupped and his eyes just as big and blue as they are on Christmas. I asked ” what’s happening bud, what’s so funny?” Gibson replied “Mom, I figured if frogs love to hop and jump he and I could play on the trampoline.”  A second latter this frog was placed on its feet right out of the mud covered hands onto the trampoline and Gibson said, “See how high he hops now!” If I was being honest I love God’s creations and I don’t think animals should be abused in any way though I do believe some of them taste great. At this moment I felt so sick and so worried for Frank. I replied ” Gibson, you’ll need to get Frank back on the ground and let him be for a while, your making his world too crazy and too hoppy even for a frog.” And even though my boy disagreed with what was good for Frank’s health at this point, he got him down and placed him carefully in the back of the Tonka truck habitat he had previously made and proceeded to drive Frank all around until we headed upstairs. I never got a thank you from Frank, but he was let loose mid-morning and probably headed to bed with some Dramamine while Gibson went on to live a full Thursday asking here and there if Frank would ever come back. (Upon further discussion, Frank turned out to be an unlucky Dwarf American Toad)
Story B: Froggy Funny Business on Saturday with Mom and Sissy
We had just finished breakfast upstairs and it was about 9 am on Saturday so down to the fort, the trucks, the chalk, the trampoline, the hammock, the gym, and the rope swing we went. Only for there to be the tiniest little frog we have ever laid eyes on and needless to say this little guy instantly became a pet in Gibson and Lorelai’s eyes. And not just any pet but one where they as children negotiated with me rather impressively with such comments as “Mama, he is so tiny we won’t even notice him hopping around the house.” or ” he only needs a large cup with a couple twigs and leaves for a home, we have large cups in the kids drawer.”  and the best one “Mama, he is too cute and little to not have a home.” And so this little frog became a pet for a day, because I was a softy. The frog was not allowed on the trampoline but was allowed on truck rides and taken on walks to the lake in his cup. The frog did get the opportunity to pee on both Gibson and Lorelai, only for them to giggle and say things like “Potty training this frog is harder then Thor was.” Thor is our dog, who is always allowed to be around in and out of home and car. I would ask through the day what this frog’s name was and it had become “Midget Frog,” my kids do not bother with politically correct verbiage. I was thrilled they were getting along  and I cannot blame them because it all seemed fitting to me. As I called them into the dining room for lunch they asked if the frog could come. Again I am soft so I said yes and on that Saturday, we entertained ourselves and Midget Frog at lunch. Latter, when I had finally come to my senses, we released Midget Frog out in the small garden area off our garage. The tears on Lorelai’s and Gibson’s faces were real. And to be honest they had the most fun day with Midget but that Frog was probably glad to get out of the loving grasp of these kids and out of bumpy rides from one fort to the other across our yard.  While my children were sad that they couldn’t keep him, they were again ready for another adventure as they discussed new ways to build a home for a frog while walking into the house for a bed time story.


World Wetlands Day – February 25th

Wood Frog

Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) enjoying an early spring swim.

Saturday, Feb 25th is World Wetlands Day. Wetlands support a wide diversity of life including 43% of rare species. They reduce downstream flooding by storing runoff. They filter sediment and pollutants. They recharge groundwater supplies and provide recreational opportunities. And, of course, frogs and toads love them. Arkansas is blessed with these wetlands – ponds, vernal pools, swamps, non-tidal marshes, ditches, and urban wetlands.

 


The Incredible Frogs of Borneo

harlequin flying frog

Harlequin Flying Frog – photo by Brad Josephs

Join Brad Josephs for a visual feast of the beautiful frogs of Borneo.  This article includes recordings of some of the frogs and an excellent Youtube that Brad put together.

If you love these little critters, you’ve got to see this wonderful tour.

See the article at: http://www.alaskabearsandwolves.com/watch-the-incredible-frogs-of-borneo/