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Break a Leg and Fight!: The Hairy Frog (Trichobatrachus robustus)

Updated on November 14, 2011
The Hairy Frog
The Hairy Frog | Source

Hairy Frogs or Trichobatrachus robustus are large, terrestrial frog species found in west central Africa. Their discovery gained worldwide attention as they are found to exhibit one of the weirdest defense mechanism in the animal kingdom.

When in apparent danger, these frogs intentionally break the sharp pointed tip bone on their toes pushing it to burst out of their skin to appear and function like claws for fighting and damaging threats. These skin punctures are instant fresh wounds on their part, making this move a really bizarre way of equipping ones self to fight.

T.robustus bone-like claws
T.robustus bone-like claws | Source

Harvard University biologists investigated and found that these bones in the frog’s toes were actually hooked in shape,perfectly resembling claws for battle. But these are not real claws like that of the cats, only pure bones free of the keratin sheath that normally surrounds vertebrate claws. Furthermore they identified that these tip bones in the frogs' feet were connected via a collagen-rich sheath to the rest of the toe.

Bone bursts out of their skin
Bone bursts out of their skin | Source

It appears that this sheath holds the skin in place in relation to the tip bone and when the frog felt danger he flexes a certain muscle in his foot that separates the sharp tip bone from the rest of the toe nodules and bursts it through the skin into the open.

Whoever wants to get hurt bring it on! This action reminds me of someone who likely gains his fame through the same fighting feat. He looks like the famous claw raging mutant below:

Wolverine fight engaging post
Wolverine fight engaging post | Source

These creatures are characterized by a large broadened head, short rounded snout, smooth skin and robust limbs. Their nostrils are located nearer to their eyes than their snout. Their first and third fingers are comparably larger than the rest and some hair-like appendages grows along the thighs and flanks of the males of the species.

The male hairy frog (T.robustus) has hair like appendages growing on its side.
The male hairy frog (T.robustus) has hair like appendages growing on its side. | Source

Their males are larger than females. Though, terrestrial, they return to waters for breeding and like other frogs they lay their eggs near watery areas.

Another amazing behaviors of this frog is that males are found to exercise care and raring for his eggs by staying near them and protecting them for an extended period of time after being laid by females.

They are carnivorous since their tadpole times, where they appear muscular and were found to have grown rows of little horned teeth. As adults they feed on grass hoppers, myriapods, slugs, beetles and small spiders. They grow to sizes up to 98 to 130mm.

People in Cameroon, Central Africa roast and eat these frogs. Though lowly amphibians, these frogs now becomes highly respected as hunters in Cameroon defensively use spears and machetes in catching them to avoid any possibly contacts.


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    • Admiral_Joraxx profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Philippines

      Hehehe! That's one thing we people haven't realize until sometime recently. Someone created Wolverine, nobody knows God has already created one a long time ago and its out there in nature. It's amazing! Thanks for coming by 666metalupyourass.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      @Admiral_Joraxx For now I will avoid atheist remarks to say:

      God is an X-Men fan.

    • Admiral_Joraxx profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you very much kviwhite. Yeah. I indeed like animals and every weird facts about them, and hubpages has given me the opportunity to study and write about them on purpose. Thanks a lot for coming by and its really great o meet you here.

    • kviwhite profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow, do you like animals? It's interesting to read your hubs!

    • Admiral_Joraxx profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Philippines

      Hahaha! Your cousins indeed. =) How about you go and ask them how to do that bone-claw mechanism frogy. Hehehe! lolz! Thanks for coming by pal. It's nice to meet you here. see you around buddy!

    • frogyfish profile image


      7 years ago from Central United States of America

      Oo-oo, I don't think these frogs are my cousins. ;-)

      Very interesting piece about these unusual creatures.

    • Admiral_Joraxx profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Philippines

      Hahaha! what are you thinking Itops. If you do you will surely have a hard time. Lols! just beware about their claws! thanks for coming by. It's really nice to meet you here. =)

    • itops profile image


      7 years ago from the sea

      This is one interesting frog. Great wolverine comparison! I wouldn't try to eat these frogs like they do in Africa though. :)

    • Admiral_Joraxx profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Philippines

      Yeah, indeed paddyboy60, nature is really awesome. Weird but totally beautiful. Thanks for coming by paddyboy. Have a great day.=)

    • PADDYBOY60 profile image


      7 years ago from Centreville Michigan

      I am really blown away, about the defense system in the frog. All I can say is that, nature is awesome.

    • Admiral_Joraxx profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks for coming by Lady_E, =) Like you this frog also got my interest the first time I heard about them. They're very unique creatures. Thanks again so much. It's great to have you around.

    • Lady_E profile image


      7 years ago from London, UK

      Very interesting. I never knew there were hairy frogs on the planet. Cheers. :)

    • Admiral_Joraxx profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Philippines

      @Alastar packer, no sir, the frog doesn't actually have any life threatening secretions of any kind but its flesh tearing claw-like bones is really a pain in the ass, that is why people keeps distance as much as possible from these frogs, though they refuse to stop catching them for food. =)

      Thank you very much for coming by sir Alastar. Have a great day!=)

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Amazing frogs! This is brand new nature info Admiral. Isn't nature miraculous. Why would the Africans fear them though, do they secret defensive poison besides the "claws?" Yes, thanks much for sharing AJ.

    • Admiral_Joraxx profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks for coming by movie master! This creature is really worth a little time of admiration. He is just so unique in his own simple ways. It's great to have you around movie master, more power!=)

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Wow, that's cool!

      What a fascinating frog, I had never heard of him before.

      Thank you for sharing and voting up.

    • Admiral_Joraxx profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Philippines

      Yeah! very fascinating indeed Nellrose. A frog with claws is really something like a subject of cartoons. But this one is true and existing. God is so creative! thanks for coming by nellrose.=)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      7 years ago from England

      Hi, this is fascinating! I have never heard of this frog before, amazing! it seems like it may be a cross between a frog and something else, but I have no idea what! rated up! cheers nell

    • Admiral_Joraxx profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Philippines

      Yeah!, interesting to behold stephaniedas. I have also heard about that platypus special capabilities. Its awesome. Thanks for coming by. =)

    • stephaniedas profile image

      Stephanie Das 

      7 years ago from Miami, US

      This is so interesting, I hadn't heard of these frogs. The hair reminds me of the duck-billed platypus, another animal that defies categories. Voted interesting!


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