Did you know that there are over 4,700 species of frogs in the world? Did you know that the Goliath Frog can weigh up to 7 pounds? Did you know that there is a frog smaller than your thumb that carries enough poison to kill 10 people?! Did you know that Kermit the Frog is 62 years old? Did you know that the average person in France eats 124.37 pounds of frog legs a year? Did you know that fake numbers are more believable if they include decimals? Did you know that all frogs go to heaven? Time to hop into the world of frogs!
Red-eyed Tree Frogs. Left photo by Cary James Balboa. Right photo by Nicolas Reusen.
The largest frog in the world is the endangered Goliath Frog (Conraua goliath). This monstrous amphibian can grow to over a foot in length and lives in equatorial rainforests along the western coast of Africa. Goliath Frogs are typically found near highly-oxygenated rivers or waterfalls, where they munch on crustaceans, fish, insects, and other frogs. Like most frog species, a female Goliath will lay hundreds of eggs which will hatch into tadpoles. As you might imagine, life as an egg or tadpole is fraught with dangers from many predators. However, Goliath tadpoles are equipped with razor-sharp teeth which allows them to shred apart large fish and even baby hippos! Either that or they feed on plants. Anyway, the survival rate for eggs and tadpoles is not very high. Unfortunately, Goliath Frog populations have struggled due to trapping for food or the pet trade, and habitat loss.
Next up is a much smaller frog – the Golden Poison Dart Frog (Phyllobates terribilis). Though they grow to about an inch in length, they are actually one of the larger poison dart frogs! These tiny amphibians make their home in a small range of rainforests in Colombia. Despite their name, Golden Poison Dart Frogs sometimes come in shades of green or orange. Their diet consists of small invertebrates, such as ants, flies, and termites. As with other poison dart frogs, the bright colors provide warning of their poisonous nature to potential predators. Many scientists believe that these frogs acquire their toxicity from their prey, which ingest certain plant alkaloids. Does this mean that the Nintendo character Kirby is related to poison dart frogs? Natives have used the poison from these frogs for centuries to cover the tips of blow-darts and spears when hunting. Some researchers are studying the mechanisms and effects of frog poisons for medicinal uses such as painkillers! For more information about poison dart frogs, check out a cool article from BBC by clicking here.
Photo by Thomas Marent, Minden Pictures/Corbis.
Even though I only covered two species, hopefully you’re starting to get a feel for the incredible diversity in the frog world. In my next blog I’ll look at more fascinating frogs, including a species that carries its young on its back, a species with see-through skin, and a species that can glide! Wherever you are, appreciate the beauty of nature and the awesomeness of frogs! I’ll leave you with some cool pictures of poison dart frogs! Frog on!