Darwin Frog

What a frog! The male Darwin frog can pretty much take the award for best daddy of the amphibian world!  Here is the story. 

  • The female frog will lay her eggs, and when those eggs develop into tadpoles, or pollywogs, then the male Darwin frog comes along and scoops up his little tadpole offspring into his vocal sac and he will actually nurture the tadpoles there until they are able to emerge as froglets and are able to look after themselves in the wild.  
  • The length of time from ingestion by the male Darwin frog until he actually releases them from his mouth back into the wild is approximately six weeks.  
  • In the intervening period, the tadpoles feed off their own egg yolks and also from the adult male's vocal sac secretions.  What is cool about this also, is that during this whole process of the male carrying the tadpoles, the adult male does not eat at all.  Such fatherly sacrifice!   
  • This is such a good start in life for the frog because, as we all know, tadpoles make a tasty treat for many predators including fish, various bugs and even other tadpoles.  
  • So this is a great opportunity for the tadpoles to reach relative maturity as a young frog in the safety of the vocal sac of their father.  How amazing is that?  
  • Also, cool fact, during the time that the male is being kept busy looking after his young, he cannot sing.  Only when the tadpoles have been released as froglets can the Darwin's frog sing once again.  
  • You could be forgiven for thinking that this is actually a very over-protective parent frog - but it has its offspring's best interests at heart!  

  • The Darwin frog is also pretty clever in that it can make itself look like a leaf, to be able to blend in with the background easily and avoid being easy prey for those that wish to feast upon them.   
  • They are quite small, measuring in at around no longer than about 3.1cm.  They have a triangular shaped head. 
  • I imagine you can guess how this frog got its name?  This frog was found by Charles Darwin while he was on a world tour (or voyage!). The frog has long and slim limbs, with only the toes on the back feet being webbed.  

Darwin Frog

These frogs are native to Chile and Argentina and like to hang out in the rivers and streams in the forest.    Their scientific name is Rhinoderma darwinii.  Unfortunately, their numbers are decreasing and their conservation status is classed as 'vulnerable' like to many other amphibians.

Because the numbers of these frogs have dropped so significantly becoming endangered, there is thankfully a couple of zoos in Chile that are taking care of these frogs in trying to ensure that they stay with us. 

In fact, it is probable that the species has become extinct in the wild which is a shame. 

Amphibians play such an important part in the world and the environment, helping to balance delicate ecosystems. 

They are responsible for keeping plagues of insects under control, and so without them the effect of agriculture is enormous and in turn public health could be in trouble. 

As all amphibians are very sensitive to the environmental changes, we really should learn to respect frogs more as they are an indicator of how healthy the environment is. 

When there is a total loss of frogs in an area, perhaps it is time to investigate and see what is going on there and try and re-dress that delicate balance. 

Sadly, it could also be that the disease Batrachochytrium Dendrobatidis has wiped out the Darwin frog population, along with disturbance of the frog's natural habitats with natural forests being destroyed for tree plantations.  

The females of Darwin's frogs are usually a brownish colour and they stay on a similar colour background to ensure their safety, while the male frog is quite a bit brighter in colour, usually green (and especially green when the males are brooding), but the throat is a browny colour and the underside of the frogs are black with big white patches individual to each frog.  

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