|Florida Nature: Frogs|
When a heavy evening rain is impending during the spring or summer, many
frogs and toads begin to call. This is the first signal of intense
breeding activity. Frogs and toads generally mate at night, since the
darkness conceals them from sharp-eyed predators, especially wading
birds. As rain starts to fall more and more frog voices are heard, until
in certain places it becomes almost deafening. Although it may seem
like frogs are just singing for fun, it is actually the males who are
calling to set up territories and to attract females. Most frogs in
Florida breed and lay their eggs in shallow, temporarily flooded ponds,
ditches, and depressions. Temporary water holes do not have large
resident populations of predators, such as fish, salamanders, and water
snakes, that would feed on the eggs or tadpoles because theses shallow
pools usually dry up quickly.
Bullfrog- The bullfrog is the most famous frog in the United States, not only because of its great size, but also because its hind legs are considered a delicacy by many! The bullfrog can measure up to twelve inches with it's legs outstretched. This frog is generally dark green to brown on its upper surfaces and white or creamy underneath, sometimes with black mottling. The bullfrog's nose is rounded, unlike the pointed snout of the Pig Frog. Bullfrogs live around permanent bodies of fresh water, including lakes and ponds and the sluggish portions of creeks. Bullfrogs are voracious eaters and devour just about any animal that is smaller than itself. The bullfrog's call is a very deep-pitched jurrrooom. Less aquatic than the Pig Frog, the bullfrog usually calls from the shoreline. On a still evening you can hear the bullfrog's call from a quarter of a mile away. The Bullfrog is found throughout the panhandle and central Florida, but is not found in the extreme southern part of the state.
Pig Frog- The Pig Frog is Florida's second largest frog. Pig Frogs are rarely found on land, being almost entirely aquatic. The Pig Frog gets his name from it's call, which sounds like a loud guttural grunting of a pig. The male pig frog calls while sitting on a lily pad or other floating vegetation. Like the bullfrog, the pig frog is often collected for it's edible hind legs. Pig Frogs main diet consists of crayfish. These frogs are olive to blackish brown and sometimes have prominent dark spots. Like most of the ranids, the pig frog has a white venter. But small flecks of brown or black can be found in its groin area. The Pig Frog's webbing on the hind feet extends to the very tip of the longest toe
Eastern Narrow-mouthed Frog-Although traditionally called a toad, the Eastern Narrow-mouthed Frog is a common frog belonging to a mostly tropical family of frogs. This is a good example of how confusing the toad/frog distinction can be. This frog lives on damp soil under logs and debris where it feeds mostly on termites and ants. The Narrow-mouthed frog can be recognized by its small pointed head and chubby smooth-skinned body. This frog has a unique fold of skin just behind its head, which some observers claim can be pulled down over its eyes. Males have a dark throat, but the females do not. Eastern Narrow-mouthed Frog's feet are unwebbed, and each of the hind feet has a spade for digging. The frogs can reach 1.5 inches long from snout to rump. During the day, eastern narrow-mouthed toads usually stay beneath leaves, under stones, or in other hidden spots along the ground. When discovered, they typically try to hop quickly away. Eastern Narrow-mouthed Frogs come out at night, which is when they eat. By remaining active at night and hiding during the day, the toads can avoid many of their predators, including garter snakes, bullfrogs, and large wading birds. When Eastern Narrow-mouthed Frogs are attacked, however, the frog can ooze a bad-tasting substance from their skin. This substance may be poisonous to a predator. The substance provides protection from the predators as well as the biting ants that the toad eats. The Eastern Narrow-mouthed frog's call on rainy nights sounds like a lamb bleating and is one of the most common heard frog calls in Florida, particularly in the warmer months. The frog calls from deep inside grass clumps and can be very difficult to locate when singing.
Gopher Frog- The Gopher Frog, often called the White Frog, is lavishly decorated with dark spots on its upper surfaces, but its base color is a very light gray, almost white. Florida Gopher Frogs are stockier than other members of the genus Rana. This frog does not usually live as close to water as do other true frogs, but lives in dry wooded habitats where the gopher tortoise burrow is used as its home. The Florida Gopher is active mainly at night. Although not rare, the Florida Gopher Frog is seldom seen, especially during daylight hours. During the day this frog retreats into the damp burrow of gopher tortoises or into other cavities. Gopher Frogs are best seen when they are calling from breeding ponds, which may be a mile or more from their home burrows. Gopher frogs breed mostly in the winter and early spring in North Florida, and later in South Florida because of the delayed onset of heavy rains. The call of the Gopher frogs sounds like a prolonged rasping snore.
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