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Eastern Hellbender

Eastern Hellbender

Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) Thanks to the sponsorship of our conservation partner, Aquarion, we have Eastern Hellbenders residing in Professor Beardsley’s Research Station. You can learn more about the Eastern Hellbender and our conservation efforts by observing the clean water sustainability system beneath the Eastern Hellbenders’ habitat. The Eastern Hellbender is a salamander and is the largest aquatic amphibian in the United States. They are not the most attractive amphibian and have been given lots of nicknames such as “snot otter”, devil dogs” and, “Allegheny alligators”. Eastern Hellbenders are fully aquatic amphibians that breathe entirely through their skin. That means they need clean, cold, oxygen-rich freshwater to live. DESCRIPTION:  The Eastern Hellbender grows to a length of up to 29 inches. They weigh between four and six and a half pounds. Their color varies from grayish brown to olive brown. Occasionally Eastern Hellbenders are all black. They will have a dark mottling over their back and sides. Eastern Hellbenders have a sleek flattened head and body that is well adapted to their environment of swift, flowing streams. They have short stout legs, small beady eyes and long tails like rudders.  They have loose flaps of skins that run along their sides that serve a respiratory function. The larvae are about an inch long and they have gills for breathing. When they reach 2 years of age the gills disappear and they start breathing entirely through their skin by absorbing oxygen from water. They do not hibernate so they are active year round. They are mostly nocturnal and hide under logs or rock slabs in the water during daylight hours....
Amazon Milk Frog

Amazon Milk Frog

Amazon Milk Frog (Trachycephalus resinifictrix) Description: These tree frogs are light grayish in color with beautiful patterns of brown or black banding. Juveniles show stronger contrast which fades as they age. Their skin also becomes somewhat bumpy with age. They range from 2.5 to 4 inches in length. Males are smaller than females. They have large toe pads for climbing. Their Latin name Trachycephalus refers to their long snouts which are used for pushing aside leaves and branches and allowing this nocturnal frog to tuck itself into tight hiding places during the day. Habitat: These tree frogs spend their entire lives in the tropical rainforest canopy (rarely, if ever, descends to the ground). Range: Northern South America (Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela). Diet: Insects, spiders, other invertebrates and small amphibians. Life Span: Up to 25 years. Family Life: Breeding usually occurs in the rainy season (November through May) with the female laying about 2,500 eggs, which hatch into tadpoles in one day. Status: Amazon Milk Frogs are not significantly threatened at this time, but current loss of habitat due to agriculture and logging could lead to endangerment. Rainforest Building open daily from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm Amazon Milk Frogs are also known as Mission Golden-eyed Tree Frogs or Blue Milk Frogs. The name “Milk Frog” refers to the poisonous, white secretion this frog may secrete when threatened. This species is most active at night and is known for its loud vocalizations. During the day they sleep in the vegetation high above streams. Look for our Amazon Milk Frogs in our...
Pickerel Frog

Pickerel Frog

Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris) Description: Brownish frog with dark dorsal spots, with bright yellow on the underside of hind legs. Habitat: Streams, wet meadows and open wetland areas. Range: Throughout most of the eastern half of the U.S. into Canada. Diet: Insects, spiders and other small invertebrates. Life Span: 5 to 8 years Family Life: Breed in late March to early May. Females lay masses of 700 – 3000 eggs attached to a submerged branch. From 87 to 95 days after hatching, the tadpoles transform into the adult form. Status: Listed as stable; however they are declining in many areas due to habitat changes. The pickerel frog, a common frog found in streams and wetlands throughout Connecticut, has a low pitched grating croak that sounds like a rusty door being opened slowly or a short snore. It secretes a toxin from its skin that can make humans sick and be fatal to smaller animals. This toxin protects it from many of its predators. The pickerel frog is sometimes confused with the rare northern leopard frog, a species of special concern in Connecticut. The leopard frog, however, lacks the bright yellow coloration on the ventral side of the hind legs. Both frogs will hibernate under the frost line through the winter. To see a pickerel frog, visit the Zoo’s Native Reptile House located in the New England...
Spotted Salamander

Spotted Salamander

Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) Description: Mostly bluish-black in color and usually patterned with as many as 50 yellow or orange round spots, arranged in two rows down each side of the spine. Some have even been seen without spotting. They have a lighter underside with small spots. In the larval stage, it does not look like the adult at all, and breathes through gills on the outside of its body. Habitat: Mature, moist woodlands with access to vernal pools, rivers or streams for breeding. They spend most of the year in underground burrows, but are sometimes found under rocks, rotting logs or in leaf litter. Range: From central and southern Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, mainland New Brunswick and south through the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Also found throughout the Great Lakes region. Diet: Small invertebrates, such as worms, insects, spiders, slugs and snails. Life Span: Up to 20 years. Family Life: As soon as the snow melts in March or April, this species will begin to mate. The adults follow creeks in their migration to temporary or permanent pools of water that do not contain predatory fish. Adults breed in the same pond year after year, for their whole lives. Females lay their eggs in clusters of up to 200. They coat the eggs with a thick jellylike substance that holds them together and anchors the mass to vegetation in the water. Algae grow on the cluster, turning it green. This is crucial to development because the algae help supply oxygen to the eggs. It takes from 60 to 90 days for the eggs...
American Bullfrog

American Bullfrog

American Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) Description: Color varies from bright green to dull olive green. They have webbed feet and strong hind legs – they are great jumpers! Bullfrogs have a good sense of hearing, and the male’s eardrum (tympanum) is two times the size of the female’s eardrum. When identifying a bullfrog you will notice that the eardrum is larger than the eye. When threatened bullfrogs will suck in air to make themselves larger. Habitat: Freshwater lakes, ponds, bogs and slow moving streams. Range: North America. Diet: Insects, snails, earthworms, small mammals, young birds, small fish, snakes and frogs. Adults will even eat small alligators! Tadpoles feed on algae, bacteria, decaying matter in the water and smaller tadpoles sharing the same body of water. Life Span: 8 to 15 years. Family Life: They are solitary except during the breeding season. Males can be heard calling to females, and warning off other males, in late April to July in northern states and from February to October in southern states. Their call is a loud bellow occasionally described as “jug-o-rum.” The female produces between 10,000 to 20,000 eggs. The eggs will hatch in 4 to 20 days and tadpoles then begin their metamorphosis to adults. It takes 1 to 3 years for the bullfrog to reach maturity (cooler temperatures slow down their development). Status: Overall the status is stable due to their adaptability and aggressive behavior. Like other amphibians they suffer from habitat destruction and pollution. Bullfrogs have been introduced into British Columbia, California, Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica and other areas. Once they became established they began feeding on the native wildlife...