Make This Leap Day and Leap Year Be About Frogs (click here)

frog photo: by Robin D. Moore
Conservation International's amphibian expert
Conservation International (CI)

Think of frogs on this leap year’s 366th day. These slimy creatures can perform astounding acts of nature. They’re also in deep water because about a third of the world’s amphibians are leaping toward extinction. When an amphibian species disappears from the planet, it’s the equivalent of a smoke alarm blasting out a warning the minute someone strikes a match. That’s because amphibians with their highly permeable skin are ultrasensitive to environmental changes and actually serve as a harbinger of environmental conditions. So when the poison dart frogs of the Costa Rican rainforest or the striking golden mantellas of Madagascar suddenly stop making noise - it’s time to leap into action. Right now we are in the midst of a horrifying decline in amphibian species. As many as 165 species are already extinct and nearly 33% of all amphibian species are near extinction. Even worse many have gone extinct even within protected areas. And it’s not just climate change and pollution that threaten these beautiful creatures, but a raging fungal disease - Chytridiomycosis - also threatens their delicate future.
Top Ten Things You Might Not Know About Frogs
1. The world’s largest frog lives up to its name. The Goliath of West Africa grows almost a foot in length, weighs up to 7 pounds, and can easily clear 10 feet in a single hop.
2. Frogs can kill us. The toxin in a single toxic poison dart frog could wipe out 90 humans.
3. Ladies, can’t decide on a guy? A female gray treefrog picks her mate from the pool of water with the fewest predators.
4. The male gladiator frogs of Latin America use spikes on their forearms to mortally wound other competitors during courtship rituals. (Gentlemen, don’t try this at home!)
5. Toads use their eyeballs to help swallow their prey.
6. Certain frogs in deserts "down under" store water in their bladder and pockets of skin. Their "pee" is an important source of hydration for aborigines crossing the arid outback.
7. In California, due to the popularity of "toad licking," it’s illegal to possess Colorado River Toads, which produce a powerful hallucinogen called bufotoxin.
8. Thanks to chemicals that act as an internal "antifreeze," wood frogs can freeze solid and hop away after thawing out.
9. Call them superfrogs. Southeast Asia’s gliding frogs "hang-glide" from tree to tree using extensive webbing between their toes.
10. Talk about incredible births. The Gastric Brooding Frog from Australia, believed to be extinct, incubates tadpoles inside their tummies until they’re fully developed. Baby frogs then come hopping out of the mouth.