This week’s amphibian is the Pacific giant salamander, Dicamptodon ensatus! These animals live in the north western US and southwestern Canada and as adults can be land dwelling or neotenic. They reach sizes of about 12 inches long, so the name “giant” is a bit misleading perhaps, but they are a pretty big salamander. Today’s picture was provided by Mr. Miller’s science lab (@trcssiencelab on Twitter).
The red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas) is one of those animals that’s so iconic and photogenic just about everybody has seen one. They are native to southern Mexico, throughout Central America and northern South America, and spend most of their lives in trees close to waterways. These photos were from a pet animal I had years ago.
In captivity, they like tall terraria with lots of leaves and branches to climb on and a largish bowl of water at the base. If breeding, it’s a good idea to set up a “rain chamber” for them, to simulate the rainy season which triggers breeding. They also seem to do best in groups of several males to one female. Maybe the competition inspires them to mate. Their call sounds a bit like “chuckling.”
This week’s AotW is a little bit different, but very cool. This was sent in from Elsa, @gsciencelady via Twitter. She’s a MSc Palaeobiologist (UoB) and environmental scientist, from Scotland and this picture is of a fossil ambystomatid salamander from the lower Permian. It’s in the University of Bristol collection. Ambystomatids are the mole salamanders (such as tiger salamanders and axolotls). The Permian was about 250 to 300 million years ago. Think about that. Mole salamanders have been on Earth for at least 250 million years. That’s awe inspiring. Humans have (if we’re being generous) only existed for about 3 million, and that’s including all of our recent “humanish” ancestors. The humble little mole salamander has been going about its business, surviving and generally outliving the hell out of other animals all that time. Sometimes, nature reminds me that right under our noses (sometimes literally) the entirety of the history of life is right there to be admired.
This week’s AotB is non-other than the infamous cane toad, (Rhinella marina), a large terrestrial toad normally native to Central and South America. Unfortunately this species has been introduced accidentally and intentionally in many places, most notably northern Australia, but also in the Caribbean and the island of Guam, which is where these photos were taken. Thank you to Devon Pike for lending me the use of these images, and also this story:
“Funny story regarding the photo of the giant toad with the quarter – I placed the quarter in front of him for size reference, and stood above him to take the picture. After the flash went off and my eyes had readjusted to the darkness, I noticed my quarter had disappeared! The fat bastard ate my quarter. I spent the next few weeks kicking road-killed toad carcasses hoping to reclaim it, but I never saw the coin again.”
They are also known to eat dog food straight from a dog’s bowl and poison anything that comes near them with those big paratoid glands on the sides of their heads!
This week, my used protein skimmer from eBay arrived. This is a CPR Backpak 2. New, it goes for about $150 dollars or so, but I bought this from someone who was upgrading to a bigger tank for $40.00. Woo-hoo.
The other piece of equipment I acquired this week was a Mag 7 submersible pump. (I forgot to take a picture of this, but it’s not all that exciting to look at anyways). It does 700 gph, so is massively overrated for a 40 gallon + 20 gallon sump, but I want a lot of flow and a lot of turnover if I end up with a cephalopod. Otherwise, I will probably dampen it down as needed. This pump would normally have been about $75 to $85 retail, but is about 50% more affordable than the Eheim 1260, another similar pump. Also, I had almost exactly this much in store credit left anyways, so I didn’t actually pay anything out of pocket for this.
So now I have most of the actual hardware needed to run the tank! All I’m missing at this point are some plumbing parts, a thermometer (thinking I may spring for some digital ones), sand and live rock, and the actual stand. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do about the stand. I’ve looked at plans for building them, and I may try that, but I’ve got to admit, I’m a little leery, as I have very little carpentry skill at this point. There’s always the option of stacking some cinderblocks and using some 2X4’s or plywood, but that’s not the best looking option for sure. If I outright buy a stand, they retail for about $200, and a lot of them are pressboard garbage. Need to figure this part out next.