A Prince Becomes a Frog: The Prince Charles Frog

The Prince Charles frog. Courtesy of Amphibian Ark.

At Frogs Are Green, we’ve always loved the fact that one real live prince – Prince Charles of England – seems to care a lot about frogs. We’ve posted stories here about the Prince of Wales’s efforts to help rainforests; in his princely fashion, he has used frogs as symbols of his campaign to protect the rainforests, particularly the rainforests of Brazil and Indonesia.

Now HRH is being honored for his work: a rare species of Ecuadorian stream frog has been named Hyloscirtus princecharlesi or the Prince Charles Stream Tree Frog in recognition of his efforts to safeguard the world’s rainforests.

Amphibian Ark recently coordinated a special event to reveal the scientific name of the Ecuadorian frog. The event took place at the prince’s Highgrove House estate and included presentation of a commemorative medallion and a glass sculpture of a frog.

The handsome brown-and-orange frog was first spotted by Dr. Luis A. Coloma among other specimens collected for a museum in 2008. The Ecuadorian scientist was part of an expedition that later found a few living members of the species in the Cotacachi-Cayapas National Park in Ecuador.

According to the Royal Forums website, while posing for photos, His Royal Highness joked, “The things I do for frogs. I’m very touched. It’s very nice. I have a lump in my throat, it must be a frog.”

The Prince Charles Stream Tree frog is a nocturnal frog – it climbs on branches during the night and lives near very fast running streams, close to cascades. The frog is endangered – its rainforest habitat in under threat due to the impact of farming.


Remarkable Frog Dads of Papua New Guinea

This is an updated repost of a Father’s Day post from 2009.

Most animal dads aren’t too involved with their offspring (human dads, excepted of course). But two species of frogs, Liophryne schlaginhaufeni and Sphenophryne cornuta, in the microhylid frog family are devoted dads, and in fact, carry their their brood of up to 25 froglets piggyback style through the rain forest of Papua New Guinea. The frogs were discovered by evolutionary biologist David Bickford.

While most frogs start their lives as tadpoles, these frogs undergo “direct development.” They bypass the tadpole stage and go straight from larvae to miniature versions of adults while still inside the egg. This is an adaptation that allows the frog to reproduce in regions without bodies of water nearby.

After the mother frog lays the eggs, she hops off while Dad watches over the clutch, warding off predators, and keeping the eggs moist for about a month.

copyright David Bickford

copyright David Bickford

After the froglets hatch from the eggs, they hop on Dad’s back. He carries them by night through the leaf litter in the rain forest. The froglets have a free ride until they grow up a bit and can live independently (hmmm…sounds familiar).

This is an updated repost of a Father’s Day post from 2009.


World's Smallest Frog Discovered

Researchers have discovered two species of what may be the world’s smallest frog species. As described in the journal PloS ONE, these new species of mini, terrestrial frogs were found on the island of New Guinea, and represent not only the smallest known frog but possibly also the smallest known vertebrate species (animal with a backbone).  Both new species are members of the recently described genus Paedophryne, the four species of which are among the ten smallest known frog species. They attain an average body size of only 7.7 mm (range 7.0–8.0 mm), less than the size of an M&M.

Photo courtesy Louisiana State University/PloS ONE

The researchers believe that the frogs have evolved their teeny size in a unique ecological niche: the leaf litter of tropical forests that remains moist year round. The frogs eat even tinier creatures (mites etc) that most other frogs don’t exploit. They are well camouflaged among leaves on the forest floor, and have evolved calls resembling those of insects.

According to the researchers, other places in the world that also feature dense, moist leaf litter tend to possess such small frog species, indicating that amphibians are well placed to occupy this ecological niche.

Before the Paedophrynes were found, the title of “world’s smallest frog” was bestowed on the Brazilian gold frog (Brachycephalus didactylus) and its slightly larger Cuban relative, the Monte Iberia Eleuth (Eleutherodactylus iberia). They both measure less than 1cm long.

For more information:

Rittmeyer EN , Allison A , Gründler MC , Thompson DK , Austin CC , 2012 Ecological Guild Evolution and the Discovery of the World’s Smallest Vertebrate. PLoS ONE


10 Frogs Handsome Enough to Kiss

While researching our post The 10 Weirdest and Most Unusual Frogs on Earth , we found so many beautiful frogs we decided to give them their own post. Below are 10 of the handsomest princes of the amphibian world.

1. Red-Eyed Tree Frog (Agalychis callidryas)

This frog might be called The Planet’s Most Beautiful Frog. It has been a pin-up on dozens of wildlife calendars and cards. But its beauty has a purpose—to help it to survive. When at rest, the frog’s eyes are closed. But if disturbed, the sudden appearance of its bright red eyes may startle a predator for a second or two—enough time for the frog to leap away. With its large toe pads and long thin limbs, it can climb trees easily. The Red-Eyed Tree Frog lives in tropical forests from southern Mexico through much of Central America. We used this frog on a poster we created to help spread awareness of the global amphibian crisis (you can download the poster for free):

Red-eyed Tree Frog from IStockPhoto.com

2. Golden toad (Bufo periglenes)

The Golden Toad became extinct 30 years after its discovery in 1976. They were found only in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve of Costa Rica, where hundreds would breed in shallow forest pools. The Golden Toad has become a symbol of  the plight of frogs and toads worldwide—we don’t want other amphibians to suffer the same fate as this beautiful creature.

Golden toad, photo by Charles H. Smith, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

3. White’s tree frog (Litoria caerula)

These handsome frogs seem to have a perpetual smile on their faces. White’s tree frogs are often kept as pets, but they are happiest when left alone in their native home: the woodland and scrub close to water in northeast Australia and New Guinea.

courtesy of www.frognet.org

4. Strawberry poison dart frog (Dendrobates pumilio)

This frog has a bright red head and body speckled with black spots. Because of its blue legs, it is also called the Blue Jeans Frog. Like many brilliantly-colored animals, the frogs’ bright color serves as a warning—Don’t eat me or you’ll be sorry! It forages on the forest floor eating small ants and termites, from which it derives the chemicals needed to synthesize the poison. It lives in tropical rainforests of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.

5. Ranitomeya amazonica

A recent report from the World Wildlife Fund highlighted the amazing discoveries of the past decade in the Amazonian biome. According to the report, between 1999 and 2009 more than 1,200 new species of plants and vertebrates were discovered in the Amazon – a rate of one new species every three days – confirming the Amazon as one of the most diverse places on Earth.  Ranitomeya amazonica, another beautiful poision dart frog , is one of the most extraordinary of these newly discovered species. Its main habitat is lowland moist forest near the Iquitos area in Peru.

photo copyright AFP/HO/File/Lars K

6. Malagasy Rainbow Frog (Scaphiophryne gottlebei)

One of the most beautiful of the Madagascan frogs, the Malagasy Rainbow Frog  is adapted for a burrowing lifestyle. It is able to live under the ground for up to 10 months.  But it also has claws on its forefeet to help it cling to vertical canyon walls to escape floods or predators.  Unfortunately thousands of these frogs are captured every year for the pet trade.

image from Wikipedia, by Franco Andreone

7. Venezuelan Glass Frog (Cochranella helenae)

This lovely frog, native to the subtropical or tropical most lowland forests and rivers of Venezuela has translucent skin, to help hide it among the leaves.

Photo by Cesar Luis Barrio Amoros, courtesy of Amphibian Ark

8. Tiger frog (Hyloscritus tigrinis)

The Tiger Frog was discovered in 2007 in Southwestern Colombian. Little is known about the frog except that it is not believed to be toxic. Rather with its bright coloring, the frog seems to be mimicking other poisonous animals to deter predators. This gorgeous frog is threatened by destruction of the forests where it lives.

photo copyright Francisco Jose Lopez-Lopez, courtesy of www.arkive.org

9. Harlequin frogs (Atelopus varius)

Harlequin frogs are usually black or brown with spots or streaks that can be a combination of yellow, orange, red, blue, or green.  They live in the moist, tropical forests in Central and southwestern South America. About two-thirds of over 110 species of these brightly-colored frogs have vanished since the 1980s. Their decline is attributed to the destruction of their native forests, collection by the pet trade, and fungal infection (chytrid fungus).

image copyright Forrest Bren for the New York Times

10. Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica)

The Wood Frog’s beauty is more subtle that that of its tropical cousins, yet its colors seems to mimic the color of rocks, bark, and fallen leaves in the forests in which it lives.  This frog is America’s most northernmost species, ranging from northeast USA to the Arctic Circle in Alaska and Canada. Wood Frogs have already begun hibernating. First they find a place under the leaf litter or in a crack in a log or rock to settle for their winter nap. They’ll slowly begin to freeze as soon as temperatures reach the freezing point. Then the frog’s blood will stop flowing, its lungs, heart and muscles will stop functioning, and ice will fill the body cavity: they will go from frog to frogsicle, until they begin to thaw in the warm temperatures of spring.

Wood frog, photo by John Rounds

Some of the information from this post came from Frogs and Toads (a Golden Guide) by Dave Showler, illustrated by Barry Croucher/Wildlife Art Ltd.


Goliath Frog – The World's Biggest Frog

Most frogs can fit in the palm of your hand, or even on the tip of your finger. But the Goliath frog (Conraua goliath), the world’s largest frog, may grow up to 3 feet long when it is stretched out and can weigh as much as a newborn baby, about 7 lbs (3.2 kg).

A Goliath frog with young friends (from Marginalia.ako.net.nz)

The Goliath frog’s greenish brown color helps to hide it among wet moss-covered rocks in fast-flowing rivers in the dense coastal rainforest of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea in western Africa. Unlike most other frogs and toads, Goliath frogs have no vocal sac and so courtship does not involve displaying any calls. They mainly eat crabs, but will also eat insects and smaller frogs. The Goliath frog can live up to 15 years.

Because Goliath frogs live in such a small area of the rainforest, they are highly vulnerable to habitat loss through logging and clearance of forest for agricultural land. The construction of dams threatens the breeding habitat of these frogs. The frogs have been heavily collected for zoos and the pet trade, but Goliath frogs don’t breed or survive well in captivity. Goliaths are also highly prized as delicacy by local people.

The IUCN (The International Union for Conservation of Nature) sites Goliath frogs as an endangered species because of a 50% decline in population size in the last three generations.

goliath frog

Goliath frog image from animals.uua.cn

Mbo tribesmen believe the frogs are wizards of sacred waterfalls. The only real hope for these amphibian wizards is the preservation of their rainforest home.

Many thanks, and a red-eyed tree frog for you (rerun)

Susan and I are hosting family and friends this week and so will be re-running a few posts from this past year. It’s been a HOT summer in the NYC area. We thought we’d re-post a holiday post to remind us of cooler days ahead. Also, if you’re a teacher this is a nice little poster to put up in your classroom in September. This post is originally from November 2009.

We have a lot to be grateful for at FROGS ARE GREEN. We’ve received over 10,000 visitors since we started the blog back in May. (Update: we are now up to 4500 visitors a month!). We are so grateful for your comments and for your participation in our blog.

As a token of our thanks, Susan designed a poster of our mascot, the Red-Eyed Tree Frog, that you can download and print out for FREE (in three different sizes). We hope you enjoy it and will put up a copy at your home, school, or office to spread the message about our amphibian friends.

Don’t forget to check our galleries of our photo contest photos, wonderful frog art from kids, and photos of wild backyards! (Click on the pictures in the right column of the blog. Feel free to send us your pictures to be included, too!)

Click here and it will take you to the download page.


Update 8/10: We have two contests going on right now—a photo contest and a kids’ art contest. Summer is a good time to take pictures of frogs and to do some drawing, so please consider entering! See Contest link at top of page.