Amphibians on Distant Hill

Fri

02

Aug

2013

Life On Distant Hill Blog ... Eastern Red-Spotted Newt

Three Stages of Life

The red eft stage of the Eastern Red-spotted Newt.
The red eft stage of the Eastern Red-spotted Newt.

The eastern red-spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) is a common newt of eastern North America. It is also known as a red eft, a red-spotted newt, or an eastern newt. 

 

Eastern red-spotted newts have a very interesting life cycle. They have three very different and distint stages of life:

The larva possesses gills and are brownish-green in color. Born in the spring, they shed their gills in late summer and they transform into the red eft.

 

As an eft they develop spots on their backs. They can have as many as 21 of these spots, with the pattern differing among the subspecies.

 

After two or three years, the eft transforms into the aquatic adult. The skin on its back of the adult reverts to the brownish-green of the tadpole and it develops a yellow belly. It develops a larger and wider tail than the eft stage to aid it in swimming. Adults may be active all winter on pond bottoms or in streams. 

 
A young adult Eastern Red-spotted Newt
A young adult Eastern Red-spotted Newt

After two or three years, the eft transforms into the aquatic adult. The skin on its back of the adult reverts to the brownish-green of the tadpole and it develops a yellow belly. It develops a larger and wider tail than the eft stage to aid it in swimming. Adults may be active all winter on pond bottoms or in streams. 

Wed

13

Jun

2012

Life on Distant Hill Blog ... Spring Peeper

A Pinkletink

A Northern Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) commonly called a "Pinkletink" in Martha's Vineyard.
A Northern Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) called a "Pinkletink" in Martha's Vineyard.

The Northern Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) - formerly Hyla crucifer, commonly called a "Pinkletink" in Martha's Vineyard, is a small tree frog only about an inch (2.5 cm) long. The Peeper is distinguished by the dark cross forming an often incomplete X shaped mark on its back. This X is the origin of the species name crucifer, meaning “one who bears a cross” in Latin.

 

Spring Peepers are rarely seen. But starting in mid to late March at Distant Hill Gardens, usually before the ice is out of the ponds, they are always heard. They are one of the first signs of spring here in New England.

 

Spring Peepers have large "vocal sacs" under their chins. They pump these sacs full of air until they look like a full balloon, then let out a mighty "peep" while discharging the air. The easiest way to see calling Peepers is to look for their shiny vocal sacs, which look like 25-cent pieces, inflating and deflating as they call. Only males emit the loud peeping call, which establishes a territory and attracts females. On warm spring evenings, the concentrations of calling "Pinkletinks" around ponds and wetlands can be incredibly loud.