Creature Feature – American Bullfrog

American Bullfrog

Lithobates catesbeianus

bullfrogpaversReptiles Alive Name: Jeremiah & Boom Boom

Hissstory: Both Boom Boom and Jeremiah were rescued from a grocery store that was selling live frogs as food.

RA Diet: Our bullfrogs eat meal worms, crickets, earthworms, roaches, and dead mice.

Natural Diet: Bullfrogs eat insects, minnows, and crayfish. They are also known to eat snakes, other frogs and even birds, mice, and baby alligators!

Range: These big frogs are native to the eastern and central United States, but they have been introduced all over the world.  Bullfrogs are native to the Washington DC area.

Habitat: Bullfrogs live in almost any aquatic environment including: ponds, lakes, swamps, and slow moving rivers.

Size: They can grow to 3.5-6 inches the record length 8 inches (this measurement does not include the legs.)

Lifespan: Bullfrogs can live up to 20 years.

Reproduction: Bullfrogs breed from May to July. You can hear the male bullfrogs calling at night with a loud, deep BaaaaROOOOOM making them sound a bit like a cow. Listen for them in warm weather, especially after rain.  Females may lay up to 25,000 eggs in one night! Large tadpoles hatch from big jelly like eggs. They can take over 2 years to transform into frogs (a long time for a frog).

Conservation Issues: Introduced populations of bullfrogs in the western United States are  eating native frogs and out-competing them for habitat.  This is one reason why it is very important to never release animals where they don’t belong.

Cool Facts: The bullfrog is the largest frog in North America – and one of the biggest frogs in the world. These big frogs can really jump, often 5 to 6 feet in one leap!

Critter Question: What is the difference between a crocodile and an alligator?

We get a lot of questions about reptiles at our shows.  One frequently asked question is how to tell the difference between crocodiles and alligators.

Crocodiles, alligators, caimans, and gavials all belong to the same order of reptiles, the Crocodilia.  There are around 23 species of living crocodilians in the world today (depending on what herpetologist you talk to)  that are divided into 3 families:  the alligators and caimans (Alligatoridae); the crocodiles (Crocodylidae); and the gavials (Gavialidae.)

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All crocodilians share many of the same characteristics such as heavily armored scales called osteoderms, long muscular jaws filled with sharp, conical teeth, 4 limbs, and a long, muscular tail.

Some of the differences between alligators and crocodiles are:

1.  Size: Alligators are smaller than most species of crocodiles.  The largest alligators can grow to around 12 feet long and weigh around 500 pounds.  The largest crocodiles can grow to almost 20 feet long and can weith over 1,000 pounds!!

2. Color: Alligators are usually black as adults and black with yellow bands as juveniles.  Crocodiles are typically tan, gray, or green.

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3.  Range: Alligators are the only crocodilians to live in temperate areas of the world.  Chinese alligators live in the warmer, temperate parts of China and American Alligators live in the southeastern part of the United States from eastern North Carolina south through Florida and west into eastern Texas.  Crocodiles live in tropical parts of the world.

4.  Teeth: When alligators close their mouths, you can still see teeth pointing down from the top jaw.  When crocodiles close their mouths, you can see teeth sticking down and up from both the top and lower jaws.  So, crocodiles have a “toothier” smile.

5.  Head shape: Many people say that alligators have a more rounded snout shape and crocodiles have a more pointed head shape, but of course there are always exceptions to this rule.

Sssseee you later alligators!

Scientific Names for Elementary School Students

We had a great Question from Sujan at our After School Class last week.

“What is the name of the lizard we met in class?”

Well Sujan, the Sudan Plated Lizard has TWO names!

The lizard we met is named Gerrhosaurus major, or “Gary” for short.  Why such a long name?

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All animals, rocks, plants, even types of clouds are given a special name called their “scientific name.”  This helps scientists put things in groups with things that are all alike.

For example:

Tree frogs that have sticky feet may be put in one group while frogs that have webbed feet and live in the water are put into another group.

They are grouped by the type of feet they have.

You can have fun doing an experiment in your own house!

Think of different ways you can group things in your house.  Some ideas may be.  Arranging things by color, size, or what it’s made of.

Choose a way to group things, then write down the different categories of groups.

Say you chose to group things by color.  Your categories will be different colors; red, blue, green, yellow..etc.

Then walk around your house and put objects in your house in its correct category.  (Yellow things go in the “Yellow” category.)  Write it down.

For extra fun, do this experiment with other people in your house.  Have them choose a different way to group things.  Compare your lists at the end!

You will find things that may be hard to put in one group.  (maybe it’s blue & yellow)  You can only put it inone, that means you have to decide!

It is lots of fun to be a scientist that classifies things!  They are called Taxonomists.

Hawksbill Turtle Project Offering Volunteer Positions!

The hawksbill is quite rare in the Hawaiian Islands. In 1998, only 38 nests were documented on the Big Island. They need volunteers for the 2009 nesting season, which runs from May to December. You will be monitoring hawksbill nests on remote beaches in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and adjacent lands. They prefer stays of 8-12 weeks, but will consider shorter periods.

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Volunteers camp 3-5 nights a week. Duties include monitoring nesting hawksbills and basking green turtles, rescuing stranded hatchlings, excavating nests, and trapping and euthanizing predators (mongooses, feral cats, and rats). Some nesting beaches can be reached only by hiking a 6.6 mile trail over recent lava flows, but others can be reached by 4-wheel drive truck. The weather is hot and very windy.

Shared dormitory-style housing is provided near Park Headquarters at the summit of Kilauea Volcano (4,000 ft. elevation). A small stipend is provided, so you will need some of your own money.

Contact Will Seitz:

[email protected]