World Frog Day
Ribbit. Ribbit. Ribbit.
That sound is a big unison hello from all the frogs at the Virginia Zoo! They want to welcome you to World Frog Day, which is held annually on March 20.
Did you know that:
- frogs are found on every continent except Antarctica?
- there are approximately 4,800 of species of frogs, with the most varieties appearing in rain forests?
- about 100 species of frogs are poisonous?
- toads are a kind of frog?
- not all frogs are green?
- frogs have been around for more than 200 million years?
At the Virginia Zoo, there are a number of species of frogs, which are amphibians. Recently, the world has lost more than 120 species of amphibians due to habitat loss, disease, over-collection, climate change, pesticides and pollution. It is a real possibility that frogs, toads, salamanders and newts may go extinct in the next few years. Here are some ways you can help prevent frogs and other amphibians from going extinct:
- Maintain a green garden and lawn without pesticides
- Participate in wetland cleanups
- Use eco-friendly cleaning products
- Conserve water
- Buy locally grown produce
You can also join FrogWatchUSA. FrogWatch USA is the flagship Citizen Science program through the Association for Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) that allows individuals and families to learn about wetlands in their communities and help conserve amphibians by reporting the calls of local frogs and toads. Species of frogs and toads can be easily identified by their call, and a fair estimation of their population can be formulated by the concentration of calls heard in a specific location. For over ten years, volunteers have been trained to acquire this data and enter their FrogWatchUSA information and ongoing analyses of these data have been used to help develop practical strategies for the conservation of these important species.
Yohn Sutton serves double duty as not only the Virginia Zoo’s Chef, but also as a FrogWatchUSA Regional Coordinator. He is currently working with other Zoo Keepers to monitor a locally endangered frog species, the barking tree frog (Hyla gratiosa), at First Landing State Park. Yohn also suggests taking a look at the Virginia Herpetological Society’s flyer, which aims to interest other citizens in Virginia to monitor the Eastern spadefoot toad (Scaphiophus holbrookii).
The FrogWatchUSA season runs from February to August, so there’s plenty of time to get involved and volunteer. There will be a FrogWatch training session in the Virginia Zoo’s Africa classroom (located near the restaurant) on Friday, March 31 from 11 am to 4 pm. This class is for those interested in becoming certified FrogWatch volunteers to contribute significant data, learn more about frogs in their area, and the opportunity to collaborate with scientists/specialists in the area. Virginia Zoo Keeper and FrogWatchUSA Regional Coordinator Chelsea Swain suggests anyone interested in becoming involved in FrogWatch to attend this session, which is the most time consuming part of becoming a certified FrogWatch coordinator. The rest is easy as the collection of data only takes a few minutes each month and can be done in your own backyard!
Even though our reptile and amphibian building is currently closed for renovation, you can still celebrate World Frog Day by going on an adventure in search of a frog in your own back yard! Here’s a list of some of the coolest web-toed creatures you may find hopping around in your area! Happy frog watching, and remember, it’s best to just look and not touch your slimy find!