A New Amphibian Song and other Herp News

Without question, American Toads (Bufo americanus) have taken the lead in the chorus of amphibian songsters. Peepers, chorus frogs and Pickerel Frogs have nearly completed their seasonal breeding and are now less frequently heard or seen.

An American Toad fresh from the woods surrounding the Wetlands.
A toad crosses the path headed for the water to seek a mate and fertilize or lay eggs. They spend the major portion of their time in a more terrestrial habitat.

The toads began to move down into the Wetlands in numbers during the last week in March, crossing the pavement and massing on the north side of the water amongst the willows and rushes.

Once the toads reach the water the males find a prominent perch from which to call out to the rest of the toad world proclaiming their availability.

A toad belts out its long rolling, trill of a song from a log in the Wetlands.

Many students, here at the Museum on field trips or spring break, were able to get very close looks at the toads.

A student reaches down to touch the warty skin of an American Toad (wash your hands before eating).

The toads had also put on a show in the Black Bear Exhibit, calling and mating in the pool just below the main Black Bear Overlook.

American Toads in the bear pool.
The arrow points to a string of eggs trailing from the pair of toads.

Northern Cricket Frogs (Acris crepitans) are also on the scene. I’d been seeing a few of these tiny frogs throughout March, but their numbers have increased considerably this past week. I even heard a few making their “click, click, click” call yesterday afternoon (4/1) as I stood on the boardwalk searching for their extremely well camouflaged forms in the mud alongside the Wetlands.

cricket frog
Can you find the Northern Cricket Frogs in this picture?
cricket frog
For perspective, the cricket frog on the left is sitting on pine needles. There is a sycamore seed just in front of the frog on the right. And, the floating yellow-green objects are duckweed. These are small frogs!
paited turtle
A newly hatched Eastern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta) makes it way to the Wetlands.

Turtles? Yes, turtles have made the news this week too. Besides all of the adult and immature turtles out basking on rocks and logs in the Wetlands, there were hatchlings making their way to the water for the first time.

p turtle
A child’s hand dwarfs this very young (perhaps just minutes old) painted turtle.
The hatchling painted turtle makes its final descent into the Wetlands.

School children were thrilled by the turtle’s ability to seek out and navigate to the water after having just hatched.

painter turtle
School children watch with excitement as the tiny turtle makes its way to the water after having crossed the wide pavement in Explore the Wild.

And finally, a Black Racer (Coluber constrictor) captivated many onlookers as it crawled through the low branches of the willows in the Wetlands, swam through the water (sending bullfrogs airborne), and finally crossed over the path.

A Black Racer swims the waters of the Wetlands much to the dismay of the amphibian residents.
The racer peeks up over the grass to see if the way is clear for the open crossing of the path in Explore the Wild.

Onlookers had to be held back so that the snake could make its way across the pavement and into the swamp next to the Black Bear Enclosure.

Hesitant to cross with the twenty some onlookers watching, the snake finally made its way across after some five minutes of, what seemd to be, serious consideration.

Cheered on by the many onlookers, the snake safely crosses the path.

I can’t wait to see what turns up next!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pingbacks & Trackbacks