It’s Leap Day, which of course makes me think of one of my favorite animals – frogs! With over 80 species of frogs and toads in North America and over 4,000 species worldwide (from the Peterson Field Guide for Reptiles and Amphibians), this is a big group of animals. Frogs are amphibians, which means that they have moist, glandular skin and their toes don’t have claws. They also have to live part of their lives in water -- usually to lay eggs. Here are some more fun facts about frogs and toads:
Unfortunately, many frogs are in danger of extinction worldwide. One-third of all frog species are in danger of extinction due to a fungus commonly called the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis). Habitat loss is an even bigger problem for frogs and other amphibians. Often, frogs are viewed as the “canary in a coalmine” when it comes to the health of various ecosystems. When we start losing frogs, scientists recommend that we really start paying attention.
So what’s a greenmomster to do? Locally, be sure to protect frog habitat; the areas where frogs live are often sensitive areas that affect the quality of water. Is there a new road or housing project being put into your neighborhood? Have the builders checked for the presence of frogs and other amphibians? Get busy – maybe this is your chance to “speak for the trees!” You can also join Frogwatch USA and help with citizen science to keep track of local frogs. Got a lawn? Reduce use of pesticides and herbicides that can harm frogs. Globally, consider supporting organizations involved in frog protection – Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project (for frogs in Panama), Amphibian Ark, or you can even adopt a frog at the World Wildlife Fund. So many options to help – luckily we’ve got an extra day this year to work on it!