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Frequently Asked Questions
Students Ask and Experts Answer
Ways to use in the Classroom

Characteristics

Q. What are the scientific names and classification of the frogs Journey North is tracking?
A.
All of them belong to:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Vertebrata
  • Class: Amphibia
  • Order: Anura (frogs and toads)
  • Family: Hylidae (Treefrogs)
  • Genus: Pseudacris (But some references put the Pacific treefrog and the spring peeper in Hyla)
  • Species:
    • Spring peeper: crucifer
    • Pacific treefrog: regilla
    • Chorus frog: triseriata
    • Spotted chorus frog: clarkii


So their scientific names are

  • Spring peeper:Pseudacris crucifer
  • Pacific treefrog: Pseudacris regilla
  • Chorus frog: Pseudacris triseriata
  • Spotted chorus frog: Pseudacris clarkii


Q. What do you call scientists who study frogs?
A.
Herpetologists

Q. What's are amphibians?
A
. Amphibians are cold-blooded animals with a backbone (vertebrates) that hatch from eggs. This class of animals includes not only frogs but toads, salamanders and caecilians. The word "amphibian" means double life. It's a good name because many species of amphibian spend part of their life in aquatic (water) and terrestrial (land) environments. Because their skin lacks a shell, scales or outer drier covering, most amphibians live in wet or damp places so their skin doesn't get dried out.

Q. What's the difference between a toad and a frog?
A
. Frogs usually have a smooth, slimy, moist skin and spend most of their lives in or near water. Frogs have strong, long legs, webbed hind feet, and two bulging eyes. Frogs lay eggs in masses, whereas toads usually lay eggs in long chains. Frogs sometimes have upper teeth whereas toads have no teeth at all. Toads usually have a dry, warty-looking skin and spend more time living on land. Toads have stubby bodies with short hind legs.

Q. Why do a frogs eyes bulge out?
A
. The eyes protrude from the head so a frog can see in several directions at the same time, even though they seem to stare blankly.

Q. How do frogs breathe?
A.
Most frogs and toads breathe (and take in moisture) through their skin through a process called cutaneous gas exchange, but they also have lungs with which they breathe. During the time they stay submerged under water or buried in soil (such as during hibernation) they ONLY breathe through their skin.

Q. How do frogs make their calls?
A.
They squeeze their lungs with their nostrils and mouth shut. Air flows over their vocal chords and into their vocal sacs. Vocal sacs are located on their throat, and you can see it blow up like a balloon. S some frogs can make noises without vocal sacs.

Q. Does each frog species have its own kind of call?
A.
Yes. Because there are so many different kinds of frogs, each species must have its own distinct call in order to attract the right mates.

Q. How do frogs hear?
A.
Frogs hear using big round ears on the sides of their head. What you can see is called the tympanum. It is the outside covering that protects the external ear opening.

Q. How can frogs detect the calls of their own species?
A.
Frogs' ears are specially "tuned" to absorb the mid-point of the pitch of the call of their particular species. For example, ears of female Spring Peepers are specifically tuned to absorb the mid-point of the pitch of the male Peeper's call.

Q. What's a group of frogs called?
A.
An army.

Q. What's special about spring peepers?
A.
They are one of the first frog species to start calling in the Eastern U.S. and Canada in the spring. These tiny frogs are less than 1 1/4 inches in length. Because they are so small, peepers are nearly impossible to see, yet they can ALWAYS be heard whenever they're singing.

Q. When do spring peepers start to sing?
A.
Paul Moler, wildlife biologist with Florida Game and Fish Commission, reports that spring peepers can be heard in Florida as early as December. In northern latitudes, Jim Yaki from Ontario, Canada reports first observations of spring peepers in March and sometimes as late as April.

Q. What do spring peepers sound like?
A.
The voice of one peeper sounds like a short, high-pitched whistle. But when a group of spring peepers is calling together they sound like jingle bells on a winter sleigh.

Q. What do spring peepers look like?
A.
They are very tiny, with a body length of only 1.7 to 3.2 cm (3/4 to 1-3/4 inch). The body color may be tan, dark brown, or even gray. The spring peeper has a darker "X: marking across the back. Even though they are small, it is easy to see the toe pads on the peeper. These are the adhesive pads which help the frog to climb smooth, vertical objects.

Q. What's unique about the Pacific treefrog?
A.
This is the frog that says "Ribbit!" So it's the one we hear in the background in movies and on TV. In the movie "E.T., when the children released the frogs in their classroom, we could hear Pacific treefrogs while we were actually watching leopard frogs.

Q. What's the largest frog?
A.
The largest is the Goliath frog, which is native to Cameroon in western Africa. These frogs have bodies that are nearly a foot (30 cm) long and legs that are even longer than that! A Goliath frog can weigh up to 3.3 kilos (about 7 pounds).

Q. What is the smallest frog?
A.
The smallest frogs are the gold frog of Brazil and a frog from Cuba, just discovered in 1996, which doesn't have an English name yet. It's scientific name is Eleutherodactylus iberia., Both these frogs are less than one centimeter long. Hardly bigger are some of the poison frogs.

Q. How can I find frogs?
A.
If you live in a place with four distinct seasons, look for the young frogs in June through September in the wet vegetation at the edges of ponds or in the grasses near ponds. Look for adult frogs at the ponds in spring. Look for them migrating from their over-wintering sites in spring and back to the over-wintering sites in fall.

Q. What should I do if I see a frog?
A
. If you want to observe the frog, put it in a covered bucket, like an ice cream pail, with holes in the lid, and gently release the frog back in its habitat when you are done. Remember: the function of frog skin is to regulate moisture and fluid transfer. This is why frogs live near lakes, ponds, and streams. This is also why it is not good to hold a frog for too long. Your dry hands will cause the frog's skin to become dry.

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