Students Ask and Experts Answer
What are the scientific names and classification of the frogs Journey
North is tracking?
A. All of them belong to:
Anura (frogs and toads)
Pseudacris (But some references put the Pacific treefrog
and the spring peeper in Hyla)
chorus frog: clarkii
So their scientific names are
treefrog: Pseudacris regilla
frog: Pseudacris triseriata
chorus frog: Pseudacris clarkii
Q. What do you call scientists who study frogs?
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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