Jan 112010
photo provided courtesy of flickrfavorites on Flickr Creative CommonsHomeCentral America
Habitat Tropical Forest
Nicheamphibious insectivore
Favorite Foodinsects
Lengthup to about 3 inches
StatusLocally Common
Threatshabitat loss, pollution, climate change

The red-eyed treefrog inhabits tropical forests of Central America, using its squishy toe pads to gain footing on wet branches in its search for insects. Because of the constant humidity in its habitat, adult red-eyed treefrogs and other treefrogs are able to live a mostly terrestrial life and only need standing water during the mating season. It is one of the most colorful frogs in the world, with striking red eyes, orange feet, and blue decals along the sides its green body.

Mating is an interesting affair for red-eyed treefrogs. Although they don’t need to mate in standing water like many other frogs, they still need to gather an amount of freshwater to allow the movement of sperm and eggs. This task falls on the female, and she carts the male on her back down to a pool of water to gather enough to lay 50 or so eggs on a chosen leaf. Ever the hard-worker, the female will continue this process a few times until she has finished laying eggs. The loafer on her back will then leave, having fulfilled his purpose of providing sperm. The eggs only take about 5 days to hatch and the newborn tadpoles will drop off of the egg-laden leaves into water. Like all amphibians, quantity of eggs laid is important. Since the eggs are so attractive to predators, only batches of hundreds will produce enough offspring with a chance to reach adulthood.

Red-eyed treefrogs are still locally common in the remaining stretches of tropical forest across Central America. As deforestation continues to reduce tree cover to make way for farmland, treefrog numbers will continue to decrease. However, loss of trees is not the only threat facing red-eyed treefrogs and others of their kind. Amphibians are notoriously vulnerable to even small changes in temperature, and the quality of water and air. Industrial pollution, even in minute amounts, has triggered massive die-offs of frogs, toads, and salamanders in all regions of the world.

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