Tree frogs are among the most popular frog species on the planet and are found everywhere except the snowy landscapes of Antarctica. They’re also among the most diverse amphibians, boasting about 800 species scattered across the world.1
These frogs have a smaller and slimmer body profile compared to other frogs and claw-shaped bones for toes (terminal phalanx) and suction pads beneath their toes. These distinctive features enable them to easily climb trees and hunt insects like flies, crickets, and beetles that they eat for sustenance.
The tree frog is an amazing creature with incredible adaptations, allowing them to flourish in their ecosystems. Here are a couple of fascinating tree frog facts to start your conversations and expand your knowledge.
The 12 Interesting Tree Frog Facts
1. Tree Frogs Croak to Attract Potential Mates
Male tree frogs are quite the crooners, “ribbiting” their hearts out to attract potential mates.
Different species of tree frogs have different mating calls, from high-pitched cackles to deep croaks. The mating competition is fierce, and only the finest males get to pass their genes to subsequent generations.
A single female could have hundreds of suitors beckoning for her attention.
Female tree frogs prefer certain call characteristics, filtering through the clamor to find their soulmates. Fortunately, different frogs have different call preferences, and the unlucky ones will remain mateless for the particular season.
Tree frogs reproduce externally via a technique called amplexus. The male frog holds the female frog tightly and fertilizes the eggs as they come out of her cloacal opening.
2. Their Breeding Pattern Follows the Rain
Breeding is an important aspect of the tree frog life cycle, and like other frogs, these amphibians have evolved to breed during the rainy season.
This explains why you’ll hear excessive croaking as the rains approach. These are the mating calls of male frogs wooing potential female mates. Precipitation is a crucial factor determining the breeding patterns of these frogs, as well as other factors like time of day and temperature.
The sounds and vibrations caused by rain pouring on the round trigger reproductive stimuli in these frogs. In fact, these frogs start croaking before any downpour and are an excellent predictor of rain.
Rainfall also creates temporary ponds that make the ideal breeding grounds for them. It also promotes the growth of vegetation, which increases food sources and ensures the tadpole’s survival.
3. They Lay Hundreds of Eggs in One Go
Tree frogs typically breed once or twice per year, and they have evolved to take full advantage of this breeding window. Once the female frog responds to a male tree frog, the male fertilizes the eggs as they emerge from the female.
Females lay between 20,000 to 30,000 eggs per clutch. However, only 1 in 50 eggs will hatch into tadpoles. Producing many eggs increases the chances of survival for these amphibians.
The female lays the eggs in clusters of about 20 to 30 eggs, sticking them on the dark undersides of leaves, well hidden from predators. The eggs hatch after about a week, and the tadpoles metamorphose into frogs after a month to join the existing ecosystems.
It’s also worth noting that tree frogs are abundant. While other frogs and amphibians are on the decline, the population of tree frogs shows an upward trajectory. This is mainly because the tree frogs are specially adapted to their environments, have versatile diets, and don’t face as many threats as their counterparts.
4. Not All Tree Frogs Live in Trees
The name tree frog is a misnomer because not all tree frogs live in trees. While it’s true that most tree frogs are arboreal (tree living), some of them thrive in landscapes devoid of trees.
For instance, the Australian desert tree frog spends most of its life in canopies, although well-adapted to climbing trees.
Pacific trees, on the other hand, are surrounded by different types of trees but prefer to spend their time on the forest floor. The ground offers a more consistent supply of moisture needed to maintain proper hydration levels.
It also offers them places like rocks, logs, and burrows to hide from predators while providing them plenty of foraging opportunities. Cryptic coloration allows them to blend seamlessly with different environments, whether on trees or on the ground.
These frogs also love spending time near water bodies like ponds, streams, lakes, and other wet areas. Staging near water bodies allows them to keep hydrated, keeps their skin moist, and regulates their internal temperatures.
Water also forms a conducive environment for breeding. You’ll find them gliding over water bodies on floating lily pads, cattails, and other water plants.
5. Tree Frogs Breathe Through Their Skin
Most reptiles and amphibians breathe through their noses, mouths, and gills. Tree frogs have evolved to breathe through their noses, mouths, and skin. These amphibians have a thin, permeable layer of moist skin with a mucous membrane and a vast network of blood vessels beneath them.
The moisture and mucus on the skin increase the surface area for absorption, facilitating the transfer of oxygen and carbon dioxide through the skin. However, this breathing versatility comes at a cost because it makes these amphibians more sensitive to changes in climate pollution.
6. Red Eyed Tree Frogs Don’t Have Eyelids
The red-eyed tree frog is the most popular tree frog, inhabiting the neotropical regions of Central and South America.
These frogs have distinctive red bulging eyes that make them instantly recognizable. Another thing that distinguishes them from other frogs, including their own species, is that they don’t have eyelids.
Instead, these frogs have a nictitating membrane. This is a semi-transparent membrane that it can draw across its eyes for protection. This membrane allows the frog to sleep with its eyes open and also helps keep the eyes moist.
It also helps keep the eyes free of water and mud while the frog is wallowing in shallow ponds and other water bodies.
7. Not All Tree Frogs Get Tadpoles
Certain tree frog species don’t go through the tadpole phase of development. Instead, the eggs develop into miniature adults via a process known as direct development.
Remember, tadpoles must have enough water to swim around and feed. Tree frogs in areas with scarce water evolved to skip the tadpole phase, which is completely dependent on an aquatic environment.
This evolutionary trait allows the frogs to survive despite the water scarcity. With direct development, the frogs develop into adults in the eggs and hatch as tiny adults. This means the frogs can survive in terrestrial and semi-terrestrial environments.
It also means the frogs develop sexual maturity earlier for faster reproductive cycles. The parents also protect the eggs until they hatch to ensure the survival of their offspring. Examples of tree frogs that skip the tadpole phase include the Greening’s Frog, the Brazilian Tree Frog, and the Bornean Tree-Hole Frog.
8. A Tree Frog Species Changes Its Color Like a Chameleon
The squirrel tree frog (Hyla squirrela) is a unique tree frog in that it changes the color of its skin, just like a chameleon.
The frog can change color from green to yellow, yellowish brown, and cream.
Like chameleons, these frogs change their color to match their background, enabling them to hide from predators and prey. It’s worth noting that this change in color is gradual and not as rapid as with reptiles like chameleons. However, it still accomplishes its purpose.
9. Trees Frogs Eat Insects
Adult tree frogs are insectivores, meaning their diet mainly consists of insects like moths, cricket, ants, beetles, and flies. During the tadpole stage, tree frogs feed on algae and other pond plants. Apart from insects, these amphibians will also feed on worms like mealworms and the likes.
Still, tree frogs, like the white-lipped tree frog, can feed on small animals like the pinkie mice.
10. Male Tree Frogs Are Territorial
Male tree frogs will do anything to protect their space, resources, and potential mates, including being violent. They’re highly territorial and will fight to retain their territories.
Fighting typically includes shoving, head-butting, and kicking until the opponent retreats.
These fights usually last 60 to 90 seconds. The winning male will shake trees and trigger ground vibrations reaching up to two meters to indicate their presence. Any contesting male will tussle it out to determine who will claim the territory.
11. Tree Frogs Have Vocal Sacs That Puff Out
As mentioned, tree frogs call out to attract females during the mating season. They have special organs called vocal sacs that allow them to vocalize these mating calls. Think of these vocal sacs as inflatable amplifiers.
The sac expands and contracts to change the frequency and volume of the sound it produces. To call, the frog closes its mouth and nose and forces air through its oral cavity to create the clicking or chirping sound. The green tree frog, or bell frog, can produce up to 75 honks or calls every minute.
12. Tree Frogs Make Excellent Pets
Tree frogs are one of the most popular pets in the country. They only cost between $ 10 and $50 and are easy to maintain. They’re also pretty harmless and won’t bite or lash out. Plus, they’re absolutely adorable.
The best part, however, about owning a tree frog is that they’re excellent pet controls. These amphibians will always be on the lookout for flies, roaches, mosquitos, and beetles to make their next meal. Still, it’s worth noting that tree frogs are a huge responsibility, and you need to feed them and keep their cages clean to ensure they thrive.
Tree frogs are incredibly fascinating creatures that are integral to our ecosystems.
Their diversity, adaptability, and abundance make them a species deserving of our attention. Despite the wavering climate situations, these frogs have remained prolific and increased their numbers.
However, if we don’t take prompt action, their populations might show a downward trend.
If you’re enamored by these tiny amphibians, you should consider adopting one as your pet. They require little space and upkeep, plus you won’t have to worry about any pesky flies or mosquitoes. Visit your local pet store and see if you can snag yourself a tree frog to keep you company.