Frogs are fairly simple, aren't they? They're green (well, the most famous one is, at least), hop around on lily pads, and eat flies. They're amphibians. Pretty basic, right? Except that the world of frogs and toads can get quite bizarre. In this article, you will soon learn that not all lily-pad leapers are the banal creatures nature seemed to have made them to be, from frogs that burrow under the desert to toads that can fatally poison humans.
The paradoxical from is scientifically named Pseudis paradoxa, and its label is quite fitting.
Normally found in South America near fresh bodies of water, you would assume a few things about this frog: it's greenish in color (correct), lives in the water (also correct), and the adult is larger than the young, like virtually all animals worldwide (incorrect!).
In fact, the tadpoles are just shy of a foot in terms of length, and the adult frog even smaller. Fittingly, these frogs stay in tadpole form for longer amounts of time than most other frog species. The decrease in size upon becoming an adult can largely be attributed to the vanishing of their tails (they retract into their body).
They also have an interesting way of preying on other animals. They will mix up mud piles with their strong appendages, mouths open, ready to have their prey fall in and be swallowed. How's that for nightmare fuel?
In terms of appearance, the midwife toad, scientifically called Alytes obstetricans, doesn't appear to be out of the ordinary. However, a close observation will clue you into its eyes being a different shape.
It is said to be adept at jumping, and is found normally near Europe. Though that isn't even close to what makes this toad interesting.
After a male and female midwife toad mate, the female produces anywhere from twenty to over fifty eggs in strings, which the males attach on their lower bodies and tote around in a glob of mucus. A male midwife toad can attract any number of eggs, if they mate with enough females.
Ironically, the females, despite the name of the species, have no role in watching over the eggs.
The male uses a solution that acts as an antibiotic in order to save the eggs from infetion. After a few weeks, the eggs hatch and become tadpoles, and the young will leave their father's body when it introduces them to water.
Holy cross frog
The holy cross frog, scientifically known as Notaden bennetti and also informally known as the catholic frog or crucifix frog (due to the cross-shaped marking on its back) makes its home in the Australian Outback. It seems an unlikely place for a frog, due to the constant heat and general lack of water. However, this frog has some tricks up its sleeve that enable it to adapt to its environment.
First of all, these frogs absorb water through special glands that catch the rare rainfall. The amount of water they can take in is absurd, as they can handle up to fifty percent of their weight. After doing so, their froggy shape turns spherical! It's truly something to behold.
When it's not raining, they live underground, about a foot or so under the sands of the Outback. Aestivation, a process similar to hibernation, keeps them alive. You may be asking yourself what that word means: aestivation is the near-shutdown of the bodily functions in order to preserve their lives. Basically, they can be said to be barely alive in aestivation.
We end our journey with the cane toad, scientifically known as Bufo marinus. It is a vile pest that was introduced to Australia in the early 20th-century, in the failed hope that it would eliminate the grey-backed beetle. In fact, the cane toad did eliminate just about everything else.
Ironically, toads and frogs native to Australia are one source of the cane toad's prey, and they could soon become extinct due to this pesky amphibian's hunger. Snakes that eat the toads die, as well as other animals. It seems this is the Toad of Steel - or, rather, poison!
Yes, this tan-colored, snake-killing, quasi-cannabilizing toad is highly poisonous. It has two glands just under its eyes that can expunge an absurd amount of venom. Do you feel like you're safe, dear reader? I'm sorry to inform you that humans, too, are felled by the cane toad's toxins. When we think of animals that can end our lives, we think of lions, bears, tigers, and gorillas. We don't think of toads - but this little kudzu of an amphibian might change that.
In short, the world of toads and frogs is beyond interesting, and I hope to have given you an insight into this world. Each species is distinct and marvelous in its own unique way, like a snowflake.