Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sunrabbit Academy Nature Journal: First Entries

Date: 15 October 2014
Area:  Goodbee, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana
Scientific name:  Euglandina Rosea
Common name:  Rosy Wolfsnail

The Rosy Wolfsnail started in Florida, but it spread to Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. It is known for eating other snails, which is why it has the name, Cannibal Snail. In 1955 they were put into Hawaii to eat Giant African landsnails which were overpopulating. They prefer peaceful places. The Rosy Wolf snail was introduced to other places, too, to eat overpopulating snails.

Charlie: The snail is beautiful.
Bentley: I like how the snail is kind of big.
Owen: Since it was so big, I could see the weird star face closer.
Liz: This snail is HUGE and it made a slime trail all down my arm. Awesome!  It is also known as the "Cannibal Snail" because of it's habit of eating other snails.  This guy was awesome.

(Photo by Liz, taken 10-15-2014; see bonus video at the end of the post!)

Date: 15 October 2014
Area:  Goodbee, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana
Scientific name:  Lycoperdon pusillum
Common name:  Puffball

The Puffball is a group of many types of mushrooms which are all in the same family. All puffballs produce spores internally, and will steam them out if you push on them. They look like brown clouds of spores when pushed out. The puffball type we found is called Lycoperdon pusillum. They were used in Tibet to make ink. None of the puffballs are edible, either.


Charlie: Puffballs, they look cute, and they are squishy.
Bentley: I like how they’re small.
Owen: I thought it was interesting that they release spores in clouds.
Liz: These look exactly like tiny white marbles, just lying in the grass. I was surprised by the tiny roots when I pulled one up. Weird stuff, yo.  But cool.

(Photo by Liz, taken 10-15-2014.)

Date: 15 October 2014
Area:  Goodbee, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana
Scientific name:  Lithobates sphenocephalus
Common name:  Southern Leopard Frog

The Southern Leopard frog is normally green or light brown, and has black spots. They are carnivores, and will eat almost any kind of bug that can fit in their mouths. Their calls sound like someone laughing, and they have purple calling sacs that puff out when they are calling. Their calling sacs puff out from the sides, and not the front of their throat. They prefer shallow, freshwater habitats to live in. They also breed year round.


Charlie: It looked beautiful.  
Bentley: I like the frog’s laughing call.
Owen: I like the spots on the frog.
Liz: Such beautiful frogs! The first time I heard one (when we first moved here) I really thought it was someone laughing!

(Really terrible photo by Liz, taken 10-15-2014.)

Date: 15 October 2014
Area:  Goodbee, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana
Scientific name:  Ambrosia
Common name:  Ragweed

Ragweed is especially found in North America. They can have a huge size difference. They can be a few centimeters tall, or they can be up to over four meters tall. They have staminate and pistillate flowers. Their leaf blades can go into many shapes. They’re a common allergen, and one plant can make about a billion grains of pollen per season. It’s sent on the wind.


Charlie: They kind of look like corn, and I love them.
Bentley: I like the bright dandelion yellow color.
Owen: I also like the color of it.
Liz: I was convinced this was some kind of tree, because the ones we found were seriously as tall as a young tree. I was also surprised to find that ragweed is a dreaded allergy flower, because they are so beautiful! I loved seeing the bees busy all over the blossoms.

(Photo by Liz, taken 10-15-2014.)

Check out this bonus video of the Rosy Wolfsnail/Cannibal Snail below!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Gickers

These little guys were among the first we caught--and they are certainly the most abundant variety of frog in our back yard this time of year. In fact, they are so prolific that we had to name them in batches. The first set we caught were all members of the Weasley family, one day they were all Death Eaters, etc.. They are--as best we can tell--cricket frogs. They have a distinctive call that sounds like "gick gick gick gick gick," so Owen and I nicknamed them "gickers." They are difficult to photograph because they are so small, but we took a video today as we released twenty-three of them back into the canal.

Introducing Wormtail

This sly little fellow is a green anole, whom we dubbed Peter Pettigrew. Matt caught this guy near the air conditioners (where we have seen others of his kind, hiding behind the slats). He does very well at pretending to be a leaf, and we had a hard time locating him in the land habitat when he curled up among the green.

Matt helped to release him, and Peter seemed quite happy in his hand.

Check him out--he looks like he's settling down for a nap.

By now you may have guessed that we like to name our critters after Harry Potter characters. We named this particular lizard after the notorious Peter Pettigrew because he is missing part of his right leg. We speculate he may have lost it in the air conditioner (ouch!), but at any rate he seems to be doing fine without it. He also has a grey tip to his tail, which is not unlike a rat's tail or a worm. Isn't it genius?

Peter mugs for the camera.

Watch Peter change color:

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Meet Tom Riddle

Owen and I are pleased to present Tom Riddle--our first American Bullfrog. Unfortunately for Tom, we didn't realize she was a she until after we named her. But she is certainly the most impressive (and ruthless) frog we have caught thus far, so her name fits. Minus the evil. And the wand. And magic. But still! Look at that crusty stare she's giving the camera!

For weeks Owen and I had been seeking a mystery amphibian we had dubbed "Squeak-Splash," due to the tell-tale froggy scream and sound of a splash we would hear often on our frogging adventures. Our heads would whip toward the sound in unison, but all we ever saw was a large ripple along the bank of the canal. Early on we suspected it might be a bullfrog. Bullfrogs do scream or meow like cats when they are distressed. Well. Last night we heard the squeak-splash, and this time we actually saw something scuttle into some swamp grass in the wake of the ripples. I hurried over and agitated the swamp grass with my net, and then we saw it--frozen in the spotlight of my flashlight was a frog larger than any we had seen so far. I quickly scooped the creature up with the large net (and a wiggly beast it proved) and hustled it over to the land habitat we had prepared.

Tom Riddle was our guest for one evening, and she mostly hunkered down in the mud and played statue. She remained unperturbed when Charles (the bronze frog who shared her habitat) decided to roost on her head. Near the end of her stay she hopped into the makeshift pool we had provided and remained there until she was released in the grass near the canal.

Ain't she a beauty?

Secret Agent Frogs

Tom Riddle (the young female bullfrog) eyes the camera while McMissile and Charles (bronze frogs) mill in the background.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Albus the Good

We didn't find Albus, he found us. We were just minding our own business last night when I noticed him chillin' on the glass window of the back door. I snuck around from the front and caught him--although he wasn't much of a fighter. He really has a great attitude toward naturalists, or so it would seem.

Albus is a green tree frog, and although they are supposedly quite abundant 'round these parts, he is the first one we've seen. We'll likely see more when the weather gets warmer--everyone says they like to hang out near porch lights and feast on the mosquitoes attracted to the artificial light. Another reason to like green tree frogs!

He's just so ridiculously adorable! Did you know that Kermit the Frog was modeled after this particularly good-looking froggy?

Albus stayed with us for one evening (such is our custom), and we happened to have a crane fly in the house that night. Charlie was scared of it so I caught it and put it in the land habitat with Albus to see if he would eat it. Albus was suctioned to the wall of the habitat at the time, with his big eyes closed. I figured he was asleep, and indeed he ignored Mr. Tasty Snack for some time. I kept him nearby me, just in case--and I'm glad I did. Without warning, Albus just snatched up the crane fly and munched him down--his eyes still closed. Then he went back to sleep. All in a night's work for a green tree frog.