Text and photos by Diane Eismont, TMNCPC member. Condensed by Isabella Wu, TMNCPC Fall 2020 Intern. (Full article appeared in Coastal Prairie Chapter Courier, Sept. 1, 2020, p. 16).
In the Texas heat, you can help frogs and toads by supplying them with constant access to fresh water. They need a shallow container filled with water in which they can sit and absorb the water through their skin.
Pickerel frogs (Rana palustris) generally are brown or tan and can be identified by rectangular spots in two columns down the back and light lines on either side of the back. Hind legs are banded. Maximum size is 3 ½ inches.
Their glands can secrete a toxin that can cause skin irritation. The toxin helps protect them from being eaten by other snakes, especially ribbon snakes.
Pickerel frogs eat ants, spiders, and beetles. Herbs of Texas reports pickerel frogs can be found in the eastern third of the state. They are primarily nocturnal and hibernate from October to March.
Another eastern Texas amphibian is the Gulf Coast toad (Bufo marinus), which can be identified by light stripes on the center of the back and along its sides and mouth. Maximum size is 5 1/8 inches. The Gulf Coast toad, which is most active at twilight, eats insects, slugs, and snails. It is eaten by racoons and birds of prey.