Living high in the trees of South and Central America is a species of frog like no other. And there isn’t just one kind of glass frog; there are actually over 100 different types. Glass frogs are members of the Anura order of frogs, which includes other carnivorous frogs.
Let’s learn about the 10 most incredible facts about glass frogs!
1. Glass frogs have translucent stomachs
Glass frogs are so named because of the glassy appearance of their undersides. The skin on their bellies is completely translucent, meaning you can see their stomachs, hearts, and other organs. In fact, you can see a glass frog’s heart beating, its guts and stomach digesting food.
The purpose of the translucent underside is camouflage. The transparent parts of the frog break off its girth, making it much more difficult for birds to see them. So, glass frogs are actually better at hiding from predators than some of their less see-through cousins.
2. There are about 160 kinds of glass frogs
Today, scientists know about 160 species of glass frogs. Glass frogs are a type of tree frog native to the tropical forests of South and Central America. Glass frogs come in 12 genera of frogs. However, most glass frogs belong to the Hyalinobatrachium, Cochranella, or Centrolene genera of frogs. But the scientific classification of glass frogs is far from always set in stone. In fact, scientists still disagree on how to classify something as “glass frog” or “not glass frog.”
3. Male Glass Frogs Guard Their Eggs
When it’s time to make baby frogs, males permeate the night with the sound of their roaring call. The older or more dominant a male is, the louder and more powerful his call. Females lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves or even branches above or very close to a source of running water. The male then fertilizes the eggs. But his work is not over yet. In a behavior that is exceedingly rare for frogs, the male glass frog actually guards the eggs against threats — such as predators and insects — until they are ready to hatch. He also ensures that they do not dry out. Upon hatching, the brand new tadpoles drop to the ground and make their way to the water, where they may mature.
4. Glass frogs have suction cups on their toes
Despite their name, glass frogs are not completely translucent. Their backs, legs and toes do not have transparent skin. In fact, in one of the coolest facts about glass frogs, their toes have an entirely different type of skin. Glass frogs are tree dwellers and if they couldn’t hold onto the damp branches and leaves of their homes, they wouldn’t last long. That’s where their toes, which have little, yellow suction cups, come in. Their sucker toes allow them to climb trees as if they were born for it.
5. Glass frogs are nocturnal animals
When you think of frogs, you probably think of quacks around a pond or wetlands. Chances are you’ve heard frogs both during the day and at night. But if you’re ever looking for glass frogs in the tropical rainforests of South and Central America, don’t even go out during the day. Glass frogs are strictly nocturnal and only come out at night. During the day they rest and prepare for the hunting, mating and evasion of predators that the night will bring.
6. Glass frogs are in trees
Another interesting fact about the glass frog is that they spend most of their lives in the trees. Granted, glass frogs don’t start in the trees. In fact, they begin life as tadpoles swimming around in running water, such as small streams or on the forest floor. Once they gain legs and lose their tails, the tadpoles move to the trees. There they can use their transparent bellies to stay camouflaged from even the most ardent predators.
7. Glass frogs live in South America
Despite their worldwide fame, glass frogs inhabit only one continent in the world. Their range extends from Panama to southern Mexico in Central America. In South America, glass frogs live in northern Argentina, southeastern Brazil, Venezuela, Tobago and Bolivia. A few species are found in the Orinoco and Amazon River basins.
8. Glass frogs are carnivores
They may be small, but glass frogs spend most of their time hunting. That’s right, these cute little creatures are cold-blooded killers. Although people have nothing to worry about. Glass frogs are not poisonous and their taste tends more towards spiders, flies, moths, crickets, insect eggs and smaller frogs.
9. Glass Frogs Grow Up To 3 Inches Long
Most glass frogs grow to about an inch long. But one of the most interesting facts about glass frogs is that they have a huge range in size. The northern glass frog (Centrolenella fleischmanni) is one of the largest glass frogs. Adults measure nearly three inches in length. Other species, such as the reticulated glass frog (Hyalinobatrachium valerioi) grow only about an inch long.
10. Male Glass Frogs Call Up Potential Mates
During the mating season, male glass frogs plead for the favors of females by calling out to them. Females choose their mates based on the depth and resonance of their croaks. So the more powerful a male glass frog’s call, the more likely it is to find a mate. But his work isn’t done when he finds a receptive woman. Since he takes care of the eggs, his job has only just begun.