May 21, 2008
- Is it a Frog or Toad or Something Else
- Family Fun
- Upcoming DEC Events
Is it a Frog or Toad or Something Else?
What is the difference between a frog and a toad? Toads have thick, warty skin with a lumpy appearance. They have shorter hind legs and make short hops or walk. Toads prefer drier conditions but burrow into moist soil when the air is dry. Frogs, on the other hand, have smooth, moist skin and longer hind legs. They move about in long, high jumps and need to live near a water source. Both spend much of the year underground, emerging in the spring when the weather begins to warm.
There are 14 species of frogs and toads in New York State. A few of the more common species include:
The bullfrog can reach 6-8 inches in length and makes a loud, bull-like "rum-rum" noise. They prefer the banks, edges and shallows of warmer waters.
Found in virtually all parts of New York State, the green frog lives in ponds, marshes and lake fringes. As the name implies, the green frog is green, and averages 3-4 inches in size.
The wood frog is found in close-canopied forests, near cold, clear pools of water, swamps and bogs. It is recognized by the dark mask around its eyes.
Spring evenings in much of New York State are filled with the high-pitched "peeps" of the spring peeper. Quite small, ranging from 1-1 ½ inches long, spring peepers are more often heard than seen. They have smooth skin with an x-shaped mark on their back.
The grey treefrog has large adhesive discs on the tips of its toes that enable it to climb high in the trees of deciduous woodlands. Contrary to the name, the grey treefrog isn't always grey, it can change from grey to green depending on its surroundings.
The American toad has a spotted belly and one or two warts per spot on its back and lives in a variety of habitats, from forests to lawns. American toads average 3-4 inches long.
There are 18 species of salamanders in New York State, half of which live in lakes, ponds or streams, while the other half make their home in woodlands or vernal pools. Salamanders are amphibians with smooth, moist skin and spend most of their time near water or under a rock or log. Salamanders eat small insects, spiders, worms, slugs, fish and frog eggs and sometimes other salamanders. To protect them from their many predators, which include raccoons and foxes, many salamanders produce a toxic or distasteful secretion from their skin.
An Abode for a Toad
Toads prefer moist areas with leaves or moss. Look for a spot in your yard where you might expect to find toads. Place a broken ceramic or terra cotta bowl or flower pot upside down, with one edge resting on a rock. Place moist mosses and leaves nearby. Fill a terra cotta saucer with water and place it near the pot. Check to see if a toad (or any other creature) moves in.
Frogs in Trouble
Frogs throughout the world are disappearing, and scientists are worried and confused about why this is happening. There are a few theories about the trouble frogs are in, and it could be directly related to the health of our planet:
Loss of habitat - frogs prefer wooded areas that are disappearing as more neighborhoods and houses are built without protecting the natural habitat
Climate change, chemical pollution, thinning ozone layer and acid rain - frogs thin skin offers little protection from the sun, chemicals or pollution. The same is true for their eggs, which don't have a hard protective shell.
Frogwatch is monitoring program overseen by the National Wildlife Federation. Volunteers help scientists learn more about the decline of frog populations. By becoming a Frogwatch volunteer, you can help scientists save the frogs and toads in your neighborhood and around the country. All you have to do is find a wetland site where you think frogs live. Then visit the Frogwatch USA website and get started as a citizen scientist!
Where am I?
Frogs and salamanders often blend into their surroundings as a method of protection from predators. Select some colored toothpicks (blue, red, green and plain) and a hula hoop or similar barrier. In some green grass, have a friend toss several toothpicks of each color into the air, making sure they land within the circle of the hula hoop. Make sure your eyes are closed so you don't know where they land! Now, look to see which you can find. The green were probably hard to find because they blended into their surroundings. Now, move to a sandy or earthy spot. Did you find the plain toothpicks easily? Try this again among some brightly colored flowers. Make sure to pick up the toothpicks when you are done.
Check out Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Upcoming DEC Events
Spring Farm Trail Walk
Saturday, May 24 at 2:00 PM
Come for a leisurely walk around Stony Kill's farm trail, and learn about succession in old fields and the plant and animal life that inhabits them.
Leaves of Grass
Saturday, May 31 at 2:00 PM
On Walt Whitman's birthday, come to Stony Kill and learn more about these humble yet tremendously important plants that we tread underfoot and never look at closely: the grasses.
Friday, May 23 at 7:00 PM
We'll acquaint you with the sounds of local frogs and view some live animals and then go outdoors to listen for calls. Bring flashlights and old shoes.
Saturday, May 24 at 10:00 AM
Make your own squirrel treat, listen to a squirrel story, and go for an outdoor walk to look for signs of these crazy critters. Please call to register; space is limited. Materials fee: $2 per family
Bugs, Beetles and Bees
Saturday, May 31 at 2:00 PM
On this walk, we will look for and perhaps catch some of the insects of early spring. Bring your nets or other equipment; we have some to share.
Salamanders at Cush Hill
Saturday, May 24 from 10:00 AM to Noon
Explore the rocks, logs and crevices of Cush Hill while searching for salamanders. Discover the secrets of these shy creatures.
Canoe/Kayak Hunts Pond
Saturday, May 31 from 8:30 AM to Noon
Paddle leisurely along the wild edges of Hunts Pond while observing wildlife and plants. Registration is required. There is a $5.00 non-refundable fee per paddler. Meet in Rogers Center main parking lot.
Saturday, May 31 at 10:30 AM
Join volunteers for our annual trail cleanup. Scout groups, families and others are all invited to help make our trails accessible for the summer. Bring water, sunscreen, bug spray, rakes and shovels, and wear appropriate clothing. Snacks and lunch will be provided.