These Poisonous Frogs Use Fashion As a Defense

by Sienna Murray, age 12

On the humid floor of the Central American rainforest, the strawberry poison-arrow frog makes its home on a pile of wet leaves. This unusual looking creature is a blend of red and orange with green on its toes. Its thin, porous skin dries out easily. Because they can’t prevent water loss, strawberry poison-arrow frogs have to live in a moist environment.

Unlike other forest frogs that rely on camouflage to hide from their predators, the bright colors of this frog warn predators of danger. Those that ignore this warning face death upon taking a bite of the frog. This frog doesn’t use its poison for hunting, instead it flicks its sticky tongue to capture its prey. It has a special taste for ants, but also enjoys small insects, spiders, and similar animals.

The strawberry poison-arrow frog lays only a few large eggs. To ensure their survival, they lay them on a wet leaf, where the male fertilizes them and keeps them moist until they hatch. When the tadpoles hatch, they wriggle onto their mother’s back, where they are held secure by sticky mucus as she searches for suitable nursery pools. She places one in each pool and also lays an extra unfertilized egg to provide food for the future tadpoles. Tadpoles grow up fast and develops into tiny frogs less than a half-inch long.

The strawberry poison-arrow frog is both interesting and unusual. While most poisonous creatures use their toxins against their prey, this frog is only dangerous when threatened. It uses its bold fashion as an even bolder defense.

[Source: Wildlife Explorer]