Did you know that today there are thousands of amphibian species in danger of becoming extinct? While some people might think, “they’re just a bunch of frogs…big deal!” The truth is they are a big deal! Amphibians play an important role in our fragile ecosystem. Without them there would be a lot more pests flying around our heads and potentially destroying beneficial plants and crops. Amphibians are also prey for other larger animals in the ecosystem. So not only would pests be abundant, but a chain reaction could occur, causing other animals to starve.
Toads and Frogs form the largest group of amphibians. There is no clear distinction between the two, but the terrestrial species with the squat body and warty skin is normally referred to as “toad.” Frogs generally have smooth skin. Tadpoles, larvae of toads and frogs, feed on algae or plant material. In adults, the back legs are often longer and more muscular for jumping. The fertilization of eggs in most species is done externally. The eggs either drop individually, in clumps or along threads. The eggs will float, sink, or attach to plants, rocks, or logs.
Argentine Horned Frog “Pacman Frog”
Range: Southern Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina.
Habitat: Savannah regions, but spends long periods beneath the ground and becomes active after a heavy rain. When above ground and active, they move into nearby water bodies, usually shallow pools and stream edges.
Conservation Status: Locally Common
Scientific Name: Ceratophrys ornate
Often called ornate horned frogs or Pac-Man frogs, these amphibians are generally green with red, yellow, and black patterns. Albino versions of this species are brilliant red and yellow in color because they lack the pigments that produce dark colors. Horned frogs have very large mouths compared to their overall body size. They do not actively hunt; instead, they hide and wait for their prey to wander by. Their camouflage keeps them well hidden beneath leaves and dirt. After killing its prey with its powerful jaws, the frog then swallows it whole, hence the nickname “Pac-Man.” Since they will eat almost anything that moves, horned frogs must be kept alone in captivity. Females generally reach up to 6 inches in length and width, and males average 3 inches. They eat crickets, worms, fish, and the occasional young mouse.