Let’s Talk About Parks: Amphibians in Pittsburgh's parks
August 26, 2014 12:00 AM
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.
Kevin Tyler Jr. gets up close with a bullfrog as part of the Frick Environmental Center’s Young Naturalist program. While it is best not to handle amphibians, if you do come in contact, wash your hands thoroughly after gently returning them to where they were found.
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
The “Let’s Talk About Parks’ series is designed to encourage exploration and discovery of Pittsburgh’s urban parks.
Did you know that Pittsburgh’s parks offer hundreds of acres of woodlands and trails to explore, with many wild and wonderful amphibians?
The wetlands and ponds in Frick Park create excellent habitat for frogs. Spring peepers are known for their raucous nocturnal singing after spring and summer storms, while bullfrogs can be spotted during the day — listen for a loud chirp and a big splash as they jump into the water.
Move deeper into the forest and you are likely to see American toads. Toads prefer damp cool areas of the woodland floor, where their coloring — shades of brown to gray accented by spots and warts — provides excellent camouflage.
Northern dusky and red back salamanders live near shady streams, while slimy salamanders live farther upland. Carefully turn rocks and logs over, being sure to put them gently back in place when you’re done. Salamander skin is sensitive, so even a small amount of handling can harm or kill them.
With winter approaching, amphibians will soon go into hibernation. Green frogs will stay at the bottom of ponds or streams, while wood frogs, distinguishable by a black mask around their eyes, hide in the leaf-litter before entering a semi-frozen state until spring. If you find one of these “frogsicles” in the winter, they will appear to be dead. But don’t be fooled; their bodies manufacture an anti-freeze to protect their internal organs until warm weather returns.
Amphibians play an important role in our ecosystem by eating insects, and you can help support their populations. Ask an adult to help you research the simple materials needed to build a frog habitat in your own yard.
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