Amphibian - Vocalization


The calls made by caecilians and salamanders are limited to occasional soft squeaks, grunts or hisses and have not been much studied. A clicking sound sometimes produced by caecilians may be a means of orientation, as in bats, or a form of communication. Most salamanders are considered voiceless but the California giant salamander (Dicamptodon ensatus) has vocal cords and can produce a rattling or barking sound. Some species of salamander emit a quiet squeak or yelp if attacked.

Frogs are much more vocal, especially during the breeding season when they use their voices to attract mates. The presence of a particular species in an area may be more easily discerned by its characteristic call than by a fleeting glimpse of the animal itself. In most species, the sound is produced by expelling air from the lungs over the vocal cords into an air sac or sacs in the throat or at the corner of the mouth. This may distend like a balloon and acts as a resonator, helping to transfer the sound to the atmosphere, or the water at times when the animal is submerged. The main vocalisation is the male's loud advertisement call which seeks to both encourage a female to approach and discourage other males from intruding on its territory. This call is modified to a quieter courtship call on the approach of a female or to a more aggressive version if a male intruder draws near. Calling carries the risk of attracting predators and involves the expenditure of much energy. Other calls include those given by a female in response to the advertisement call and a release call given by a male or female during unwanted attempts at amplexus. When a frog is attacked, a distress or fright call is emitted, often resembling a scream. The usually nocturnal Cuban tree frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) produces a rain call when there is rainfall during daylight hours.

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