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posted: 8/26/2013 11:57 AM

Scientists work to keep frog population from dwindling

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  • There are over 5,000 species of frogs known to exist, 10 of which are native to Illinois.

      There are over 5,000 species of frogs known to exist, 10 of which are native to Illinois.
    DANIEL WHITE | Staff Photographer, 2008


You wanted to know

While attending the youth library program "Animals in the Garden," a young patron from the Vernon Area Library in Lincolnshire asked, "What are the different types of frogs?"

Disease, habitat loss and pollution have eliminated at least 250 frog species since 2010, and up to one third of all amphibian species are threatened.

Scientists and researchers worldwide have taken steps to remedy this drastic situation. Global awareness has prompted researchers to develop solutions for preserving frog life.

During the process, many new frog species have been identified. So far this year 90 new frog species were added to the list of 5,000 now in existence.

Illinois is home to 10 different species of frogs and toads: the chorus frog, spring peeper, pickerel frog, wood frog, Blanchard cricket frog, gray frog, green frog, leopard frog, bullfrog and the American toad. These frog species live all around us. The proof is that buzzing sound you hear as the summer sun sets, which most likely is a croaking and ribbeting symphony of frog sound.

"A lot of frog calls are mistaken for insect calls," said Jackie Boquist, educator at Cosley Zoo. The zoo, located on Gary Avenue in Wheaton, features amphibians, mammals, snakes, skunks, turtles and close to 50 different bird species.

Marlie, an 18-year-old great horned owl, is under Boquist's care at the zoo.

"Owls in the wild eat frogs and small mammals," she said.

Marlie had an injury that prevents her from flying long distances to hunt or find prey, Boquist explained, so her diet is limited to small mammals. Like most teens, Marlie can be stubborn and difficult.

Boquist and her colleagues are training Marlie to perch so that the bird eventually can become a part of the zoo's animal education program.

Frogs are carnivores. Their sticky long tongues trap insects and small prey. While there are exceptions, most frogs live partially in water and most toads live entirely on land, although a few species make their homes in trees.

Frogs breathe through their skin. Most frogs and toads lay their eggs in water. The tadpole to adult phase lasts about 16 weeks, during which the young eggs hatch into tadpoles, put forth teeth, grow lungs and sprout legs.

Cosley Zoo offers a number of opportunities for youth and families to connect with the zoo's animal life. For more information about upcoming events and programs, see

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