Saturday, 18 April 2015

The Iberian Water Frog or Perez’s Frog is not the Iberian frog

Pelophylax perezi. Photo by David Perez

The Iberian water frog lives in Iberia (Spain and Portugal) as its name suggests but it is also known as Perez’s frog (Pelophylax perezi) and the Iberian green frog. Its scientific name used to be Rana perezi, and this is still used by many zoologists and naturalists. 
 It needs to be distinguished from the Iberian frog (Rana iberica), which also lives in Spain and Portugal but unlike the Iberian water frog which is very common and widely distributed, the Iberian frog is now very rare and limited by the number of locations it still survives in. 
The Iberian water frog’s key to success is that it isn’t fussy about its habitat and is found in ponds, lakes, reservoirs, rivers, marshes, and just about anywhere there is freshwater. It is often found breeding in garden ponds and also in the large water tank reservoirs made for farm irrigation.
It also lives in southern France and has been successfully introduced into Tenerife and the Canary Islands, the Azores and Madeira, as well as the Balearic Islands. It is also reported from a couple of sites in the UK where it is surviving.
The Iberian waterfrog is usually some shade of green as an overall colour but sometimes blueish specimens are found. These frogs often have a yellowish line down their backs.

Juvenile Iberian water frog. Photo by Steve Andrews

The Iberian water frog is a large species with females being bigger than the males.  The males croak loudly and congregate in large numbers in the breeding season. They can be territorial and will fight. 
The Iberian water frog is also known to resort to cannibalism at times and will eat its own tadpoles and smaller frogs.
The Iberian waterfrog, as its name suggests, spends most of its time in the water or very near it. It likes to bask in the sun at the edges of ponds or on lily-pads or anything else it can haul its body out onto.


Iberian Water Frogs. Quinta do Lago, Algarve, Portugal. 07/05/2102

  The Iberian Frog 

Rana iberica. Photo by Luis Fernández García

The Iberian frog favours mountainous regions and needs rivers, streams, ponds and lakes in these areas. It is also found in some lowland parts but is seriously declining in numbers.
  It looks similar to the Common frog (R.temporaria) and shares its habitat with this species in some places. It can grow to about 7 cm (2.8 in) in length but a more usual size is 5 cm (2.0 in).
The Iberian frog is having problems mainly due to habitat loss caused by deforestation and land development and is also threatened by introduced and naturalised predatory species including the American mink (Neovison vison). Climate Change is also said to be taking its toll on this species of frog and its official Conservation Status is “Near Threatened.”


Sadly it's not just the Iberian frog that is declining in numbers and in danger, because worldwide many species of frog, toad, salamander and newt are in serious trouble too. Water pollution, pesticides, herbicides, habitat destruction, the danger from traffic on roads, competition with other species, disease and Climate Change are all contributing to this, and many types are actually endangered to the point of facing extinction.

Dr Kerry Kriger has set up the first ever charity devoted to saving frogs and amphibians. Find out what you can do to help Save The Frogs here! 



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