August 24, 2020
I was heading up my driveway Friday night when this fellow decided it was crucially important to hop in front of my car. Fortunately, I hit the brakes in time and was able to snap a photo of one of Virginia's coolest frogs: the pickerel frog (Lithobates palustris).
What makes the pickerel frog truly unique is its defense mechanism: this is the only poisonous frog native to the United States! When pickerel frogs feel threatened, they emit skin secretions that are toxic to most predators (although bullfrogs and a handful of species of snakes can still eat them). While the poisonous secretions aren't fatal to humans, they can cause irritation if they get into your eyes or mucous membranes. So if you see a pickerel frog, no matter how tempting it might be, please don't rub it on your face.
Pickerel frogs can be found in the eastern U.S. from Maine down to South Carolina; their range extends into the midwest, but it gets spotty at the western edge of their range. They're usually active from April to October and they hibernate during the winter months. In the northern parts of their range, they tend to live near cold, clear water, while southern pickerel frogs prefer warmer water. In either part of their range, they can often be found in heavily wooded areas near bodies of water.
Thank you to Jason Gibson of the Virginia Herpetological Society for confirming my ID! #BenInNature
ABOUT THIS POST
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. While he is working from home, Administrator of Science Ben Williams is venturing outdoors each day to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world.
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