Saturday, March 22, 2014

Herping: Frogs, a Toad, and More

This is a continuance of my March 19th herping trip with some fellow wildlife students from Ohio University. The first part, covering the salamanders we found, can be found here!

This post will cover the frogs, toad, and some other things we came across that night. So let's jump right in!

Wood Frog, Lithobates sylvaticus
This is a Wood Frog, Lithobates sylvaticus. I was really happy we came across one of these; I've been wanting to see one for a few years now! Notice the "mask" which is a great ID characteristic. This is one of the species of frogs that hibernate over winter. What's interesting is that they can freeze during hibernation, thaw out in spring, and be perfectly fine.

Spring Peeper, Pseudacris crucifer
This frog is a Spring Peeper, Pseudacris crucifer. It was exciting to see; I've heard countless hundreds of them before, but never actually laid eyes on one. We saw a few throughout the night, but the ones we saw paled in comparison to the ones we heard that night. We must have heard thousands along the stretch of road we were walking. There were so many that the sound was almost painful.

Spring Peeper, Pseudacris cruciferAnother shot of the Spring Peeper. The diagnostic characteristic is the "X" on the back. This one's "X" is a little hard to make out, but the others we saw that night had very clear X's.

American Toad, Anaxyrus americanus
Finally, the last of the amphibians. This is an American Toad, Anaxyrus americanus. There are three subspecies; we have the Eastern subspecies. A bit of information I found interesting involves the origin of this species. When biologists did DNA studies on American Toads, they discovered they were closely related to South American toads in the Anaxyrus genus. As a result, it's thought that all Anaxyrus species in North American came from some toads that floated over from South American millions of years ago (the Isthmus of Panama wasn't formed yet, so the two continents were not connect at the time of the invasion).

Ohio Snail
Along with the amphibians on the move, there were also a couple of other animals out and about. One was this decently-sized snail. What type of snail? I'm honestly not sure. I think it's a snail in the genus Mesodon, and I'll venture to say it might be Mesodon thyroidus or Mesodon zaletus. Don't hold me to that though.

Scaphinotus elevatus
Finally, an insect! This is some type of ground beetle. A member on Reddit's What's This Bug said it appears to be an Eastern Snail Eater, Scaphinotus elevatus. If that's exactly right, I'm not sure; the beetles are a massive group of insects with insane numbers of species. Getting an exact ID from a photo is hard.

Other animals sighted on the trip include a Virginia Opossum, some species of field mouse, and a group of White-Tailed Deer staring at me from the darkness (the only reason I knew they were there was the reflection of their eyes from my headlamp).

Hope you enjoyed!

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