There are more than 800 species of amphibians that range from mud-dwelling salamanders to desert toads. Among them is a family of colour, diverse, and interesting tree frogs. Perhaps the most beautiful of those frogs is the red-eyed tree frog, aptly named for its large, red eyes. These are 10 mind-blowing facts about this incredible tree frog.
10 Facts About The Red-Eyed Tree Frog
1. They grow up slowly
Many species of frogs grow up quick and live shorter lives, but the red-eyed tree frog takes much longer to grow up. At two years old, the frogs are fully mature. Their average lifespan is about 5 years in the wild, but they can live much longer in captivity due to a lack of natural predators.
2. They use the element of surprise
Red-eyed tree frogs are able to camouflage themselves to an extent, but giant red eyes and stunning blue and yellow colours on their sides make them stick out. If the frog is threatened by a predator, they use its dazzling colours as a way to disorient and startle its would-be foe. Some scientists theorize the opposite, though, that their stunning colours help them evade predators by allowing the frog to abruptly blend back in with its surroundings.
3. They’re nocturnal
If you’re looking for a red-eyed tree frog during the day, you may find them sleeping, well hidden among the leaves of trees. Nighttime is the right time to see the frogs in action, though. They come out at night because there are fewer predators around to hunt the frogs and plenty of delicious insects to snack on.
4. They’re not very tasty
If you’re looking to eat a frog, the red-eyed tree frog is not your best bet. The frogs have toxins in their skin that likely wouldn’t cause you to die but don’t taste very good and could potentially make you sick.
5. Their eggs hatch fast
While it takes the frogs two years to grow up, the eggs take no time at all to hatch. The tadpoles usually emerge after just four or five days, sometimes sooner. The eggs are laid on the underside of leaves that hover over pools of water. The eggs are considered to be a delicious treat for many predators. As a defence against being eaten, the tadpoles are able to force themselves to hatch early, even if they aren’t ready yet, in order to increase their odds of survival.
6. They’re excellent climbers
Like all tree frogs, the red-eyed tree frog is an adept climber. They’re able to scale trees and cling to leaves using suction-pad-like toes. Their feet actually emit a wet mucous that allows them to better cling to nearly any surface.
7. The males mark their territory in a strange way
Male tree frogs can be territorial. When attracting a mate, they will usually find a suitable spot for raising young and then call for females. This means they have to defend their prime real estate from other males. To signal to others that their spot is taken, males will begin to shake, creating vibrations that travel up to two meters away. This signals to nearby males that they should look elsewhere.
8. They’re the speed-eating champions of the frog world
In the case of the red-eyed tree frog, their gigantic red eyes aren’t just there for aesthetics (or seeing), but when they catch an insect, they will blink their large eyes to help swallow their catch faster. This helps hasten how quickly they can eat so they can move on to the next insect quicker.
9. They’ve been around for millions of years
Frogs first arrived on the scene here on Earth about 100 million years ago. Many have since gone extinct or evolved into different animals, but the red-eyed tree frog has been relatively unchanged for more than 10 million years, according to fossil records.
10. They aren’t endangered, but…
Red-eyed tree frogs are not considered threatened or endangered by the IUCN, but they’re one of the lucky ones. Approximately 33% of amphibian species are considered endangered, and 43% are seeing their numbers decline. Climate change and loss of habitat are the two biggest drivers for this decline. But for now, the red-eyed tree frog is safe.