Red-Eyed Tree Frog

Red-Eyed Tree Frog

This bright, neon-colored amphibian is an explosion of color. With such vivid body colors, the red-eyed tree frog not only manages to look striking, but also does a good job of camouflaging itself. Read on to find out more about this interesting creature.
PetPonder Staff
The Red-eyed tree frog is a unique species that lives mainly on trees and is identified by its distinct red eyes. Let's take a closer look at this amphibian.
Description and Size
Red-eyed tree frogs, like all other frogs, are amphibians. This frog is characterized by its distinct bright green-colored body, blood red eyes, orange webbed feet, and its sides which are blue in color with yellow stripes. Its legs and underbelly are a bright blue shade. It has a sticky tongue and its fingers and toes have suction tapes―with the help of which it sticks to leaves. These frogs live in the trees and are excellent jumpers. The red-eyed frog is a better climber than a swimmer. They are carnivores and eat moths, insects, tadpoles, dragonflies, fish, crickets, and even smaller frogs.
The female of the species, when fully grown, is about 3-4 inches in length and the male is about 2 inches long.
This frog is a nocturnal creature―it sleeps during the day and is active throughout the night. During the day, it remains in the underside of leaves, tucking its feet in and shutting its eyes so that it camouflages perfectly with the green of the leaves. This it does to hide from its prey and predators, both. But when it runs into danger it will expose its colors and shock the predators and earn an escape route for itself.
Scientists say that this frog uses its distinct scarlet eyes to shock predators. This is known as startle coloration. This it uses in the form of a defense mechanism so that it can save itself. Its predators have a keen eyesight and usually hunt and find it due to its green color. However, when it opens its red eyes, and exposes its bright orange feet and blue underbelly, the predators get shocked as it over-stimulates their eyes―even if for a moment―thus providing precious time for the frog to leap away. The predators are so focused on the color of the target that the explosion of so many bright colors stuns them, and as the frog leaps away, it leaves behind a confusing ghost-like image.
Habitat
The habitat of these frogs typically comprises the tropical lowlands and rain forests of South America, Central America, as well as Southern Mexico and Costa Rica. They are often found near ponds and lakes; but as stated earlier, they are arboreal creatures, that is they dwell in trees. The red-eyed frog prefers to live in a community.
Life Span
They have a life span of up to five years. But some are known to live up to 10 years in captivity. In the tropical rain forests, which is their natural habitat, they can live up to 30 years as well.
Life Cycle
The red-eyed frogs breed during the rainy season (October-March). The process will start with the males croaking and quivering in unison in order to attract a female. The males will fight for a single branch area which has the female on it. They will continue this until only a single male is left who will then mount the female's back with its legs. Once that happens several other male frogs will try to mount her as well. The female must support their weight with her legs and the suction tapes on her toes. When a single male frog is left, the female frog and he will mount upside down from the underside of the leaf that is usually over a water body. This process is called amplexus.
She will then release her eggs one at a time and then the male will fertilize them. Each batch of her eggs is called a clutch. It is required that the female keeps herself (her bladder-which stores the water to hydrate the eggs) hydrated during this entire process because the eggs need a high quantity of water for their survival. Sometimes, therefore, the females descend from the trees and rehydrate themselves in a pool of water. When she enters the water, the male on her back might be knocked off by other males, so she might come out of the pool with a different mate. The next clutch will be fertilized by him.
Following this process, the eggs are left to mature. Tiny tadpoles will develop inside these eggs and once they mature they will swim vigorously inside the egg forcing it to break. The water in the egg will wash them down the leaf, preventing them from any harm and into the water below. Here the tadpoles will develop into froglets in over 75-80 days. When these frogs emerge from this water they will be brown but will soon take over their distinct coloring. They will then take to the trees and continue the rest of their lives there.
Predators
The frog is at danger from snakes, bats, and large birds; so also owls, tarantulas, toucans, and young alligators.
Care
It is advised that you do not adopt these frogs as pets because of their highly specific needs for survival. Failing to do which might be fatal. However, if one is to take this frog for a pet, there are a few things that one should keep in mind and provide for before making the purchase
1. Housing

The cage should be taller than wider. In fact, the taller the cage, the better it is for the frog. This is because it is arboreal and prefers height to width. The cage should ideally be made of plexi enclosures or glass so that it allows for the maintenance of the high humidity levels that are mandatory for the frog's survival. So also, a part of the cage should be at least half screen to allow adequate ventilation. This prevents molding and stagnation in the enclosure.
2. Size

A 10 gallon size aquarium―24 inches long, 18 inches deep, and 24 inches high is ideal. Also, an additional 5 gallon size (16" x 8" x 11") space for every additional frog that is added should be made available. The cage should be big enough so that it allows a pond at the bottom and adequate plants.
3. Substrate

The tank needs a substrate ―that is, the base on which an organism lives. The substrate can be moist paper towels or a complex concept like a grown cover mixture. A mixture of 1 inch gravel at the bottom (drainage) followed by 2-3 inches of orchid bark or organic soil and topped off with a 1 inch layer of sphagnum moss is ideal for the cage. Along with that, installing an underground canister filter will help to maintain the pool.
4. Vegetation

Red-eyed frogs are arboreal and require trees for their survival. One can either choose plastic plants to add to the tank or can go in for live ones. When planting the live variety one has to make sure that they are thoroughly cleaned and all substances like pesticides are washed away from their surface. This is because toxins on these plants can be harmful for the frog. It is easier to choose potted plants instead of using the soil to grow them in the tank. This is easier to maintain. Always choose plants with wide leaves so that it can support the weight of the frog. Some types that you can choose from are: Palm, aluminum plant, moss, philodendron, snake plants (Sansevieria), and Japanese evergreen. A full spectrum bulb will be needed for the growth of these plants, but since the frog does not require the light, plenty of hiding spots should be provided for it.
5. Feeding

Feed the frogs 4-5 live crickets every 2 days, but since the cricket has no meat in it, one needs to coat the crickets with vitamin D3 powder or feed them with a gut-loader supplement. So also, meal worms and wax worms can be fed sparingly because they are fibrous.
6. Temperature and Humidity

An ideal day time temperature of 75-85 ºF and a nighttime temperature of 65-75 ºF should be maintained. Humidity should be a high 80-100%. So it becomes important to provide a water pool or a water dish for the frog.
7. Grooming and Hygiene

As far as possible, avoid touching the frogs. This is because they have an extremely sensitive skin and can easily catch diseases by absorbing the toxins from your hands. Always wash you hands with a bacterial hand wash if at all you need to handle them. When cleaning the tank never use normal screen cleaners as they might have ammonia and bleach in it which can be fatal if absorbed by your frog. Instead, ask your local pet store for a product that is friendly to their conditions. Change the water daily.
Facts
  1. The scientific name of the red-eyed tree frog is Agalychnis callidryas. 'Callidryas' means beautiful tree nymph in Greek.
  2. The scientific name for the tree frog family is hylidae.
  3. These frogs are sometimes also called the red-eyed leaf frogs or the red-eyed leap frogs.
  4. The group name given to the red-eyed frogs is 'army'.
  5. The frog does not have to drink water in order to remain hydrated, it can soak it through its skin.
  6. These tree frogs only eat things that move, and captive frogs will only eat when they are hungry.
  7. They have earned the name 'Monkey Frog' because they are such adept climbers.

The red-eyed tree frog is an extremely mellow creature with extraordinary survival skills. Its demeanor and vivid colors make it a favorite subject for photographers all over the world to promote the cause of saving the rain forests.