9. Frogs Forever
Frogs have a reputation as slimy, croaking, fly eating pond animals. But frogs and other amphibians have some amazing adaptations! Join the junior biologists as they get an up close look at amphibians! They’ll get to see the cool, weird, and fascinating ways amphibians survive in their habitats. They’ll also get to see the threats amphibians around the world are facing and the efforts at the Vancouver Aquarium to save some local species.
What are amphibians?
Amphibians are a class of animals that were among the first to come onto land. They all have a backbone, are cold blooded, and thin skin that facilitates gas exchange. This group of animals includes frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, and caecilians.
What the heck are caecilians?
Caecilians are a lesser known member of the amphibian family. They have no legs or arms and live underground. They look like an earthworm with a small shark head! The weirdest thing about them is that the babies eat their mum’s skin in order to grow up fast!
Why are frogs so loud?
If you’ve ever lived near a lake or body of water in the summer, you’re probably very familiar with frog sounds. These sounds are mostly mating calls. Male frogs will vocalize to advertise their size, location, and how fit they are as potential mates. When you get a large amount of frogs in one location though, all the frogs are competing with each other, leading to a chorus of frogs.They don't just ribbit or croak, listen to all the weird sounds other frogs make!
Source: Endangered Wildlife Trust on YouTube
Other frogs vocalize to defend themselves and warn predators to back off. Check out the video below of the fearsome battle cry of the desert rain frog as it defends itself!
How do frogs jump so far?
Frogs leap around to get to places or to escape danger. The actual leap is motion is done in a way similar to an elastic band. When they’re ready to jump, the frog contracts the calf muscle, extending the tendons. When it releases the tension, all the energy in the stretchy tendon is released and this propels the frogs forward!
What are the weirdest amphibian adaptations?
There are so many different and weird adaptations from amphibians around the world!
The Surinam toad is a really dedicated parent. The mother’s eggs are embedded into her back, and the tadpoles grow up in a pocket of skin on their mum’s back. When they’re fully grown, they’ll erupt out of her skin as tiny versions of mum.
Source: San Diego Zoo
Google the images of them! They are cool to see, but can be really creepy to some people! Trypophobics beware!
The hairy frog, or Horror frog, has a pretty extreme defense mechanism. When it needs to defend itself, it will break some bones in its hand, causing the bone fragment to pierce the skin. The frog will then use the protruding bone to fight off any threats!
Sometimes when there’s a threat you can’t fight off, one would want to just fly away. That’s what Wallace’s flying frog does. With outstretched limbs, it glides from the tops of trees. This is more of a glide or a graceful fall, but it works for the frog!
Pebble frogs do the whole falling thing, but not as graceful as the flying frogs. When threatened, pebble frogs pull in their limbs and throw themselves off a cliff. Their small size means that the fall won’t damage them!
Why are frogs under threat?
Frogs have amazing adaptations, but some are leaving frogs vulnerable. For example, frogs have thin skin. When submerged, the thin skin and high amount of blood vessels breathe for the frog.
This is an amazing adaptation, but it allows other things to cross into the frog. In normal pond water, this isn’t a huge problem. But when there are lots of pollutants in the water, they easily get into the frogs body. Many of the pollutants in wastewater discharge interfere with the hormones in a frog, leaving many unable to reproduce.
Another threat is from fungus. The chytrid fungus is a deadly fungus that has spread around the world. The spores attach to the frogs skin and prevents them from breathing and ultimately ends up killing the frog.
Habitat destruction has also devastated amphibian populations worldwide. Loss of wetland habitats have diminished local populations and amphibian populations around the world. For example, the axolotl is only found in a few lakes around Mexico City .However, due to urbanization, water pollution, and introduced predators, the axolotls are crticially endangered.
What can I do?
Lots of things! Simple things every day go a long way when everyone pitches in. Make sure all the water going down a storm is clean. The fish symbol you see over storm drains is a reminder that whatever goes into the drain will end up in the lake or ocean. So make sure to keep pollutants and garbage where it belongs!
Another thing is to keep your pets from being too curious around frogs! As the weather warms, more frogs come out. If you’re enjoying a lakeside walk with your four legged family members, make sure they keep a respectful distance from any frogs they might find.
Finally, conserve water! We get our water from frog habitats! By reducing our use of water, we can keep them for frogs to be healthy in!
What is the Aquarium doing?
We’re always working hard to consistently release local frog tadpoles in BC wetlands! The northern leopard frogs and Oregon spotted frogs are local species that have been displaced due to invasive bullfrogs and other factors. We raise tadpoles safely before releasing them! We have seen more and more frogs each time we go release tadpoles. So with your help and support, we can do good things for local BC frogs!
-Learn more about what we're doing at Ocean Wise to help frogs here
-Learn more about wetlands in BC here
-Challenge each other to whose frog will jump the farthest with these origami frogs!
-Learn that amphibians are varied and fill many different niches due to their amazing adaptations
-Understand how there are many threats to amphibian populations worldwide
-Contemplate ways to take action and protect local amphibians
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