Contact Information

Texas Nature Trackers
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
(800) 792-1112 ext. 8062
tracker@tpwd.texas.gov

 

Texas Amphibian Watch: Rules of "Frogging"


SO …you want to become an Amphibian Watcher? Well, studying frogs is lots of fun, but it's important work too, and that makes it extra important that we all follow some simple rules of "frogging." There are four different types of rules:

Courtesy Rules

Ask Permission! Some of you are lucky enough to have a pond or wetland with frogs in your own backyard! If that's the case you only need to collect the data and send to us, along with a Private Lands Access Request form that allows TPWD to store the data, analyze it, and produce reports based on the data from that location. However, if you would like to gather information on property other than your own, then you'll have to seek permission.

Legislation in Texas protects the rights of private property owners during the course of your volunteer efforts. You should approach the property owner and explain what you're doing and why and when you'd like to visit their property. You'll then need to get the landowner to sign a Private Lands Access Form to grant you permission to gather data, and provide it to Texas Parks and Wildlife, and to allow us to use the data in preparing reports. The Private Lands Access Form is included in the Texas Amphibian Watch Monitoring Packet. Landowner permission forms are not required when you do roadside call counts surveys, as long as you are on public roads. If you will be working on public property, then you won't have to get a signed permission form, but you should seek verbal permission from the site manager. Once again, explain what you're doing and why and when you'll be visiting the property. They're likely to be very supportive of your efforts, but they may have to issue you a special permit to enter the area after dark, to capture animals, etc.


Licensing Rules

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department requires that anyone who captures a wild animal be licensed or permitted. If you would like to participate in an activity that actively involves capturing amphibians (such as malformation monitoring), then you have two options:

  1. You can purchase a State of Texas Hunting License (a $6 license is available for anyone under age 17.)
  2. You can attend a TPWD amphibian monitoring workshop and we will issue you a scientific permit.

Collecting frogs is not allowed on public roads.

You do not have to have a permit or license to conduct call count surveys or to observe amphibians as an Amphibian Spotter.

An additional note: When collecting with a hunting license, you may not possess more than 25 total frogs and toads. School teachers may obtain an Educational Permit from TPWD to exempt them from these quantitative limits (see Educator Activities).

Finally, the Houston Toad and several salamanders in the Texas Hill Country are federally listed as endangered or threatened (see Amphibian Spotter Guidelines). You should not handle these species without a federal permit. No threatened or endangered species should be removed from their habitat.


Rules to keep the FROGS safe!

Remember, frogs are living creatures, as are all the other creatures, plant or animal, that you'll find in your wetland. They should all be treated with respect and care.

Eggs:
It is best not to touch the eggs at all, but to just observe them where they are.
Tadpoles:
Keep the tadpoles in water. Just like fish, tadpoles have gills, and can only breathe under water. If you want to observe them closely make sure that you have a small container of water to keep them in. You can keep them in your hands for a few seconds if you want; just be sure that your hands are damp (or even better, cup your hands so that you have a little pool of water), and make sure you don't crush them!
Metamorphs:
A metamorph is the in-between stage, when a tadpole is changing into a frog. When all four legs of a tadpole start to show, that's when we first call it a metamorph. When it no longer has its tail, then we call it a frog.
Keep the metamorphs wet. Make sure there's something in your bucket for metamorphs to crawl up on. They are also fragile, so be careful in handling them.
  • Kind of like a tadpole …Just like tadpoles, metamorphs are fragile, so be extra careful if you handle them. Their bodies need to stay wet or they will dry out, and die very quickly.
  • Kind of like a frog …Metamorphs aren't just changing on the outside …They're changing on the inside too! One of the biggest changes happening to metamorphs is the way that they breathe: Metamorphs are developing lungs so they need to breathe air, just like adult frogs. Adult frogs are good at floating on top of the water and keeping their heads up so that they can breathe, but a metamorph still has its big tadpole tail that weighs it down. It's not good at floating; it needs to lean on something sturdy or it could even drown. SO …if you put metamorphs in your container, make sure you put some long sticks in there took or some floating vegetation so that the metamorphs have somewhere to rest.
Frogs:
  • Keep frogs moist.
  • Don't overcrowd.
  • Hold by the top of the legs.
  • Frogs are wiggly and wet and can be hard to hold. If you handle one, make sure you don't crush it. Believe it or not the best way to hold a frog is by its legs-right where the legs meet with the frog's body.
  • They also need to stay wet, just like tadpoles and metamorphs.
  • Don't put more than 1-2 frogs in one container for more than a few minutes. Also, keep your containers in the shade so the frogs don't get too hot, and make sure your containers have vented covers; frogs are great jumpers!!

Rules to keep YOU safe!

Make sure you ALWAYS go to your wetland with another person. There are lots of cool things to see and do in a wetland, but there are sometimes dangers too!

Muck:
Wetlands can sometimes have very deep, soft soils ("muck"), and it's not hard to get "stuck in the muck"! This is one of those times when it's handy to have an extra person around. Have them help pull you out. It might even be a good idea to keep some rope with you when you go to your wetland...just in case.
Poisonous Plants:
Is there poison ivy near your wetland? Make sure you know what kinds of plants in your area are dangerous to touch, and know what they look like. Poison ivy's leaves are dark green, except in the fall when they turn red, and always clustered in groups of three. The edges of its leaves are smooth, without teeth, but the leaves may have a few lobes (like an oak leaf). Look at a field guide at your library or bookstore to double-check your identification.
Venomous Snakes:
There are only four types of venomous snakes in Texas-water moccasins or cottonmouths, copperheads, coral snakes, and several types of rattlesnakes. The first three are often found in moist habitats, but there is no need for excessive fear. Most snakes would like to avoid you JUST as much as you would like to avoid them. Snakes are an important part of the environment. The best thing to do when you see a snake is to stay very still. If you remain still, the snake may leave. If the snake doesn't move away from you after a few minutes, slowly and quietly back away from it. It's a good idea to check out your field guide to know which kinds of venomous snakes are in your area, and exactly what they look like.
"Poisonous" Amphibians:
Some frogs, toads, and salamanders have toxins in their skin. Just touching or handling these animals won't hurt you, but be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before you eat or touch your eyes or face.
Ticks:
If there are ticks in your area, you might want to wear long sleeves and pants, and keep your pants tucked into your socks. Given recent concerns about tick-borne diseases, such as lyme disease, you'll want to shower and check yourself thoroughly when you get home, including your back, scalp, behind your ears, between your toes...you get the picture! Remember that seed ticks can be as small as a pin head!
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