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Red Eyed Tree Frog

agalychnis callidryas

The red eyed tree frog is a small tree dwelling (arboreal) frog found in rainforests from central America down to Colombia in South America. Although the bright colours of this species may indicate that it could be poisonous, they are not - their only form of defence is camouflage. They are nocturnal (are active at night time) and spend daytime concealed under a leaf, their legs covering the bright blue and yellow colours on their sides, their orange feet under their bellies, and their eyes shut, hiding their beautiful big, bright red eyes. Their eyes play a defensive role; they open very suddenly and widely which can either scare or at least startle a potential predator. We call the action of using a sudden display for defence as deimatic behaviour.

Red eyed tree frogs are insectivorous and actively hunt for food as opposed to sitting and waiting to ambush prey. Being amphibians, they must lay their eggs near water. Most amphibians lay their eggs in water (frog spawn and toad spawn for example), but red eyed tree frogs spend most of their lives in the trees. So the female will lay her eggs glued to a leaf over a pond, puddle, or water collected in a plant's flower. The sticky jelly-like glue stops the 40 or so eggs from drying out. We refer to the act of "sticking" the eggs to a fixed spot as ovipositioning. The tadpoles hatch after six or seven days, falling into the water below. They remain in the water for between three weeks and several months, depending on the environment, until metamorphosis where they lose their tails, grow legs, and turn into frogs. They live for up to five years, being able to reproduce at three to four years of age. Red eyed tree frogs face dangers from predators which include snakes and large spiders and the tadpoles from fish and dragonflies.

If threatened during the embryo stage (still inside the egg), they can hatch early in order to escape. This phenomenon is triggered by vibrations caused by predators or flooding but not by vibrations caused by nonthreatening natural occurrences or harmless species, which is amazing and not fully understood. This phenomenon is called phenotypic plasticity.

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