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- Reptiles & Amphibians
The Red Eyed Tree Frog
Most people don’t have much of an interest in frogs. For the most part I am one of those people. I don’t know anything about frogs and don’t really have any desire to learn. But, the red eyed tree frog is so striking and attractive that I wanted to learn how and why they look so different from the common conception of frogs. Apart from the obvious piercing red eyes, the red eyed tree frog is two to three inches long, they are bright green with blue and yellow streaks down its sides and large orange toes. When they are not on the run, their back legs come up to cover the blue sides so they appear to be only green. The majority of frogs are a dark green-ish colour so that they can easily blend in with their surroundings, camouflaging themselves from predators. Those that aren’t green are bright red, a sign to other animals that they are poisonous. The red eyes of the red-eyed tree frog suggest to other animals that they too are poisonous even though in fact they aren’t, and the red eyes are in fact to help them see in the dark since they are nocturnal. Rather than camouflaging, the tree frog uses its bright colours to dazzle and confuse a predator as it runs away, since the colours only show when it is running. It does darken its colours as it sleeps (during the day) to avoid detection.
The red eyed tree frog is found in tropical rainforests in Central America, in places like Costa Rica. Unlike many frogs it lives in trees rather than around water, and has suction pads on its feet in order to cling on to trees and leaves, in fact it hardly ever touches the ground. As they are nevertheless an amphibian, the female red-eyed tree frog must lay her eggs in the water, or rather she must hang upside down from a leaf as the male climbs on her back (after fighting off all the other males) and as she releases an egg the male fertilises it. Whilst supporting both their body weight, hanging upside down, the female must also ensure she doesn’t dehydrate by jumping into the water. As she does this, the male tries desperately to hold on because if he doesn’t then one of the other males might climb onto her back for when the fertilisation process starts again.
The red eyed tree frog is carnivorous and will eat any kind of flies, bugs, moths, crickets and even other small frogs. Due to a lot of the rainforest being cut down, the tree frogs’ habitat is shrinking but having said this they are not thus far an endangered species. Nevertheless the red eyed tree frog has come to be a symbol for rainforest protection due to its recognisable form and colours. Most recently, in the UK anyway, it has featured in the Galaxy chocolate adverts. They are also known to be docile creatures and many people keep them as pets, although even in the wild people pick them up and pet them.