Posted by: Renee Owens | June 5, 2013

Wild Zone Photo Blog: Fun with Frogs


June 21

Homes for Herps (short for ‘herptiles’, a term that refers to all reptiles and amphibians)

June is shaping up to be a busy month. It began with a call to our wildlife exclusion business to rescue a ‘few’ tadpoles from a much neglected swimming pool. The homeowner had called a pool cleaner who told her it would be impossible to clean the pool without killing the teeny tadpoles now calling it home. Like most of our customers, she figured there had to be a way to accomplish what she needed to do without killing anything, so then she called us.

tree frog rescue pool sm

Off we went with a bucket, nets, and a specialized pump that we modified so that one can pump water out without sucking in and killing the tadpoles. We arrived to find her pool and Jacuzzi full of algae, unidentified smelly goo, native California tree froglets and tadpoles (Pseudacris cadaverina), and no shortage of mosquito larvae to boot. (A good reason to stock your ponds and non-swimming pools with mosquito fish. You can get them free from the county).

ca tree froglet

Five messy, mucky hours later, we had over a hundred little froglets and tadpoles ready to be liberated! I have no doubt there are a lot of people who wouldn’t bother saving these little buggers. But considering that almost one third of the world’s amphibians are in danger of extinction  – yes, one third, thanks to things like pesticides, and other pollutants, climate change, and vast habitat destruction – we think it’s worth it, and we are very happy the homeowner did too.

 tadpole sm

Speaking of herps, we’ve been visited again by our unexpected house guest – a little known reptile called a  granite night lizard (Xantusia henshawi). These guys are not geckos, though somewhat similar looking. The neat thing about this species is that they can change very quickly from a dark phase, during the day, to a light phase at night, which is when they are most active. Wary and secretive, they are not fond of hanging out near humans as a rule, and so they aren’t easy to spot. If you go looking, the best place to find them is in the desert or dry side of the mountains where there are a lot of big boulders, slabs, and rocky places to hang out. (Or, you can come over to our place and sit on the porch at night as he (she?) catches the bugs attracted to the light.) I’ve read that they eat scorpions, and considering how I found one in my BED (auugh!) a few months ago – this lizard is more than welcome.

night lizard xantusia sm


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