By: Leah Ben
April 1st is a day revered by mischievous lovers of pranks, jokes, and foolery. Some may wish that fooling friends and family would be socially acceptable all year round. For one species, this is not only possible but necessary for survival. Frogs are masters of disguise! Even the biggest tricksters around may have something to learn from these amazing amphibians.
Some frogs use camouflage as a defense mechanism to disguise themselves from predators in the wild. For example, the Vietnamese Mossy Frog’s red, green and black coloration along with it’s uneven, bumpy texture enables it to blend in among mosses and lichens within its habitat.
There are also some species of frogs that use their appearance to send messages to other animals who may be thinking that a frog would make a tasty afternoon snack. The Fire-Bellied Toad is a semi-aquatic frog species native to Korea, north-eastern China and adjacent parts of Russia. The Fire-Bellied Toad is bright green with black spots, and as its name indicates, it has a bright yellow to reddish-orange stomach area. It’s bright coloration tells predators “Stay away!”. When bothered by a predator, it will exhibit an “unken reflex” by arching its back and limbs to expose its bright belly. Its skin can secrete a mild toxin that can sting.
Another frog that uses its coloration to ward off predators is the Blue Poison Dart Frog. This frog’s bright blue skin warns predators of its highly toxin venom. These little guys average lengths of 1.2-1.8 inches and 8 grams, but don’t let their size fool you. Their venom can certainly pack a punch! Their skin can secrete a venom that can paralyze and even kill predators. Blue Poison Dart Frogs are native to South America, and indigenous people of Columbia have used the toxic mucus of the blue poison dart frog to coat the tips of their arrows and blow-gun darts. In the wild, Poison Dart Frogs create their venom from insects they eat, but in captivity, their diet eventually makes them venom-free.
Perhaps the biggest prankster of them all is the Red-Eyed Tree Frog. As its name suggests, the Red-Eyed Tree Frog has red eyes along with a brilliantly green body. These rainforest tree dwellers are not poisonous, but they flash their bulging red eyes, huge orange feet and blue-and-yellow flanks when disturbed, tricking predators into thinking they are toxic. Red-Eyed Tree Frogs are nocturnal, spending the day on green leaves in the rainforests of Central America with their legs tucked in and eyes shut. This makes them practically invisible.
Want to see these frogs up close and personal? Visit Adventure Aquarium to experience Frogs: Nature’s Messenger, a limited-time opportunity to discover more than 20 kinds of frogs and see the world through their eyes.