Meet 10 Stunning Frogs Whose Populations Are Dwindling

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on April 29, 2016. Enjoy!

I don’t know about you, but when I stumble on a frog or salamander, I’m immediately transported back to childhood. Back then discovering amphibians was the payoff of outdoor exploration.

Now as an adult, when I spot one of those slippery creatures, my curiosity, my awe and even my nurturing instinct kick in to high gear.

Usually I admire it for a bit before seeing it to safety and getting back to business as usual. But it turns out, there’s something more adults can do when we stumble upon amphibians. Besides admiring them, we can also help conserve them.

I’ll get to that in a bit. But first, I want to tell you about an old friend of mine named Mark Mandica.

When it comes to amphibians, Mark is like many of us appreciators — times a thousand. I met him over twenty years ago, and even way back then he exuded a passion and interest in amphibians unlike anyone I had ever met. Now he’s the Amphibian Conservation Coordinator at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. It’s one of the longest running amphibian conservation program in the country.

If Mark’s name sounds familiar, you may recall a story I wrote about a conservation-themed art installation on the Vatican wall last year. A photo of Rabbs’ Fringe-limbed tree frog was among the projected images.

Sadly there is only one known frog left of this species in the entire world. And that frog lives at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Mark supervises his care.

Update: The last known Rabbs’ Fringe-limbed tree frog, named Toughie, passed away last year.

He told the Huffington Post, “It’s kind of nerve-racking taking care of him, knowing he’s the last one of his kind.”

Can you imagine the pressure?!

Mark admitted that he was not much of a conservationist when he first became fascinated with amphibians:

“I was more interested studying how fast their tongues move to catch prey, not much to do with conservation. Since then it has become harder and harder to find frogs and amphibians and so now I feel obligated to help conserve these amazing and vital creatures. It’s sort of an ‘all hands on deck’ situation.”

Now Mark studies, cares for and photographs frogs and other amphibians to share with the world. Wait till you see them!

Save the Frogs Day

April 30 is recognized by some as Save the Frogs Day, so it’s a fitting time to share some of Mark’s frog photographs to highlight those whose populations are at varying degrees of risk. I asked Mark to pick out 10 images, which you will see below.

I think the hardest part for him was deciding which ones to share with you, because sadly there are so many dwindling species to choose from—all of which are stunning. (I had a hard enough time trying to decide which one to use as the lead photo!)

Mark explained, “for the past 25 years or so, amphibians have been disappearing globally from developed areas as well as pristine environments. 38% of the world’s 7,000 amphibian species have been documented as in decline or already extinct.”

Why is this happening? Scientists have identified multiple anthropogenic factors contributing synergistically to amphibian declines, such as habitat loss, pollution, collection, acidification of the environment and infectious disease.

Without further adieu, meet 10 frogs whose populations are dwindling — photos and descriptions by Mark Mandica.

1. Slope Snouted Glass Frog, Cochranella euknemos

Conservation Status: Decreasing

Slope Snouted Glass Frog, Cochranella euknemos; Photo Credit: Mark Mandica

Slope Snouted Glass Frog, Cochranella euknemos; Photo Credit: Mark Mandica

Glass Frogs (family Centrolenidae) are so named due to the translucent skin on their bellies. This allows enough light to pass through the frog to disguise it from predators.

The Slope Snouted Glass Frog was one of the Panamanian species rescued by the Atlanta Botanical Garden and Zoo Atlanta in 2005, when the deadly amphibian disease, chytridiomycosis (chytrid) was wiping out as much as 85 percent of the frogs from that region. This incredible species, and many others are held in a biosecure facility at the Garden called the frogPOD where they can be studied and bred in captivity until they can one day be returned to the wild in Panama.

2. Blue-sided Leaf Frog, Agalychnis annae

Conservation Status: Endangered

Blue-sided Leaf Frog, Agalychnis annae; Photo Credit: Mark Mandica

Blue-sided Leaf Frog, Agalychnis annae; Photo Credit: Mark Mandica

Blue-sided Leaf Frogs are still declining in the wild. Leaf Frogs or Monkey Frogs (subfamily Phyllomedusinae) are so named because they often lay their eggs on leaves or other structures above water. When the eggs hatch the tadpoles drop down into the water below. Leaf and Monkey Frogs are a specialized type of Tree Frog (family Hylidae) from Central and South America.

3. Black-eyed Leaf Frog, Agalychnis moreletii

Conservation Status: Critically Endangered

Black-eyed Leaf Frog, Agalychnis moreletii; Photo Credit: Mark Mandica

Black-eyed Leaf Frog, Agalychnis moreletii; Photo Credit: Mark Mandica

Black-eyed Leaf Frogs are a critically endangered species of Leaf Frog (subfamily Phyllomedusinae). Their eyes are such a deep dark red, that they appear black.

The species is native to Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico but is declining rapidly in the wild placing this species an imminent risk of extinction.

4. Lemur Leaf Frog, Agalychnis lemur

Conservation Status: Critically Endangered

Lemur Leaf Frog, Agalychnis lemur; Photo Credit: Mark Mandica

Lemur Leaf Frog, Agalychnis lemur; Photo Credit: Mark Mandica

One of the smallest species of Leaf Frogs. They have excellent camouflage and actually sleep on the underside of leaves during the day. A nocturnal species, they turn from bright green to a brownish red at night.

The Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Amphibian Conservation Program has been working with Lemur Leaf Frogs since the 1990s, and have donated over 400 baby frogs to various institutions and conservation agencies. The hope is that once the wild home range of Lemur Leaf Frogs is once again safe for the species, there will be large enough numbers to return and repopulate protected areas of Panama and Costa Rica.

5. Granular Glass Frog, Cochranella granulosa

Conservation Status: Data Deficient

Granular Glass Frog, Cochranella granulosa; Photo Credit: Mark Mandica

Granular Glass Frog, Cochranella granulosa; Photo Credit: Mark Mandica

Granular Glass Frogs are one of the frog species that most resemble Kermit. All frogs have granular glands throughout their skin, but these glands are clearly visible on the back of C. granulosa.

This species lays its eggs on leaves over streams. When the eggs hatch, the tadpoles drop down and complete development in the streams. This can take well over a year! The tadpoles appear pink, but really their skin is also clear and glass-like so the blood vessels are visible – giving the larvae a pink hue.

Not enough information is known about the populations of Granular Glass Frogs to know whether they are stable or in decline.

6. Rabbs Fringe-limbed Tree Frog, Ecnomiohyla rabborum

Conservation Status: Extinct in the Wild

Rabbs’ Fringe-limbed Tree Frog, Ecnomiohyla rabborum; Photo Credit: Mark Mandica

Rabbs’ Fringe-limbed Tree Frog, Ecnomiohyla rabborum; Photo Credit: Mark Mandica

Rabbs’ Fringe-limbed Tree Frog (named after devoted amphibian conservationists George and Mary Rabb) is believed to be extinct in the wild and hasn’t been seen or heard in Panama since 2007. The probable cause of the frog’s extinction is the emergent infectious amphibian disease, chytridiomycosis (chytrid).

A large frog, it’s almost the size of a human hand. Frogs of the genus Ecnomiohyla are specialized Tree Frogs (family Hylidae) known for their ability to glide by using expanded finger and toe webbing. The last known Rabbs’ Fringe-limbed Tree Frog resides in the frogPOD at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. He is a male frog.

He hadn’t been heard calling until 2014, when a mysterious call emanated from the frogPOD. Mark Mandica was able to quietly approach and make a recording. The call of this frog (which you can hear here) had never been recorded before.

7. Carolina Gopher Frog, Lithobates capito

Conservation Status: Threatened

Carolina Gopher Frog, Lithobates capito;
 Photo Credit: Mark Mandica

Carolina Gopher Frog, Lithobates capito;
 Photo Credit: Mark Mandica

The Gopher Frog is the rarest frog in Georgia. The Atlanta Botanical Garden and partners have been head-starting this species for 10 years. Head-starting is a conservation tool where eggs are collected from the wild. Then, the eggs are cared for until they hatch, and the tadpoles are raised through metamorphosis. The froglets are then released back into the wild into protected habitats.

Gopher Frogs are imperiled in part because they are indigenous to the Long Leaf Pine ecosystem, which has been reduced by 97 percent of its original range in the southeast U.S.

8. Argentine Horned Frog, Ceratophrys ornata

Conservation Status: Near Threatened, In Decline

Argentine Horned Frog, Ceratophrys ornata; Photo Credit: Mark Mandica

Argentine Horned Frog, Ceratophrys ornata; Photo Credit: Mark Mandica

The Argentine Horned Frog is basically just a big mouth with tiny arms and legs. They are ambush predators and dig into the ground so just their eyes are poking out. From there it can grab just about anything: insects, small mammals, birds or even each other with its large sticky tongue and hold it in place with its sharp teeth and blade-like jaw bone.

Unlike most frog larvae which are vegetarians, the tadpoles of Horned Frogs are vicious predators with teeth that are used to eating anything in the pond with them… including each other.

9. Fringed Leaf Frog, Cruziohyla craspedopus

Conservation Status: Decreasing

Fringed Leaf Frog, Cruziohyla craspedopus; Photo Credit: Mark Mandica

Fringed Leaf Frog, Cruziohyla craspedopus; Photo Credit: Mark Mandica

A beautiful and mysterious frog, little is known about the Fringed Leaf Frog. They live high in the canopy of the Amazon forest and rarely, if ever, come to the ground. They are named from the prominent fringe on their legs. This fringe breaks up the outline of the frog making it look like part of the leaf or like lichen growth rather than a frog. This frog hides in plain sight all day while it sleeps on top of large leaves invisible to predators.

They are tree hole breeders and use the small amount of water that collects in trees where fallen branches can leave a hole. The tadpoles develop in these micro habitats and emerge as one of the most beautiful frogs in the world.

10. Black-legged Poison Dart Frog, Phyllobates bicolor

Conservation Status: Near Threatened, In Decline

Black-legged Poison Dart Frog, Phyllobates bicolor; Photo Credit: Mark Mandica

Black-legged Poison Dart Frog, Phyllobates bicolor; Photo Credit: Mark Mandica

The Poison Frogs (family Dendrobatidae) secrete poison from their granular glands with a level of toxicity that varies from species to species.

Their bold colors (reds, blues, yellows and oranges) are warnings to predators that the frog is toxic and dangerous. These colors are the opposite of camouflage — the frogs are trying to stand out — and the warning colors (or aposematic coloration) effectively convey the message to predators before any attempt is made to eat the frog.

Even though there are almost 200 species of Poison Frog, only a few species are lethal to humans (like the one pictured here). The most toxic Poison Frogs can kill a half dozen adult humans just by touching it! These select few are also known as Poison Dart Frogs because they are used (by native South American Amerindians) for blow dart hunting. Once a dart is tipped with the secretions from one of these frogs, it can kill for up to six months.

Despite the incredible lethality of these frogs, they are still endangered and declining. Their toxicity doesn’t aid them against the pressures that all amphibians are facing globally, such as habitat loss, emergent infectious disease, pollution and harvesting.

Mark Mandica in action. Photo Credit: instagram.com/frogsneedourhelp

Mark Mandica in action. Photo Credit: instagram.com/frogsneedourhelp

TAKE ACTION!
Some morning, Mark is likely going to walk into work and the last frog of its species–Rabbs’ Fringe-limbed tree frog–will have passed on. It’s not a matter of if, but when. But for many other frog species, it’s not too late to help save them.

Here are some ways you can help frogs:

  • 1. Make your yard amphibian friendly

Would you believe, more often than not, that making your yard more amphibian friendly involves doing LESS yard work than you are currently doing? It can also help reduce insects (1,000 amphibians can eat five million insects a year!) and re-connect amphibian populations which have been fragmented by human land development.

To learn how to encourage amphibians into your yard visit: backyard.frogsneedourhelp.org.

2. Get involved in an amphibian monitoring program

Here are 2 types:
1. Install the Herp Mapper program on your phone. This is a cooperative project designed to gather and share information about reptile and amphibian observations across the planet. You can use it to submit visual or audio data.

2. Join a frog watch initiative: There’s a program in Atlanta that enlists staff, volunteers and concerned ‘citizen scientists’ to join together as a community in order to monitor our local amphibian populations. There are a growing number of other Frog Watch initiatives around the world, but if you can’t find one in your area, Mark has a suggestion: “Start one!”

Picture this
If you want to see more of Mark’s incredible frog photographs, follow frogsneedourhelp on Instagram.

Photo Credit: Mark Mandica

460 comments

Carole R
Carole R5 days ago

They are all amazingly beautiful and unique.

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Telica R
Telica R7 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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ellie d
Ellie M9 days ago

ty

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Kay M
Kay M10 days ago

beautiful.

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candy peters
candy peters11 days ago

the beauty of these frogs is breathtaking ! please do what you can to help save our dwindling species.

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Glennis W
Glennis W12 days ago

Very frightening and worrying they are all adorable Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W12 days ago

So sad and sickening adorable frogs and story. Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W12 days ago

Very beautiful frogs so sad Thank you for caring and sharing

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One Heart inc
One Heart inc14 days ago

Thanks!!!!

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Louise A
Louise A17 days ago

thank you

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