Saturday, February 12, 2011

Another of our favourite non-avian highlights, was a frog. Not just any frog. A Strawberry Poison-dart Frog, Flaming Poison-dart Frog, or, Blue-Jeans Frog! They're all the same frog, except the two former names suggests something a bit more menacing than the latter.

Strawberry-Poison Dart Frog (c) Richard Brown

While I'd like to say he was menacing, he was about the size of a large grape, and hopped away as soon as we got close. He probably got a bit bored of our pursuit, because he launched himself at Rich's hand (that was poised with the camera a few inches away from his big red face). He clipped Rich's thumb before landing on my boot. On my boot, he was one hop away from entering what he thought was a tunnel of safety, but in reality was my trouser leg. Luckily he chose to hop off into some dead leaves by the side of the trail.

Strawberry-Poison Dart Frogs have some of the most fascinating ecology in the rainforest. When the female picks her mate, based on the best song, she lays her eggs on the ground under a leaf, and the male proceeds to fertilise them. They take turns to guard the eggs. When they hatch into tadpoles, both the male and female frogs put a couple on their back, and climb up a tree in search of a bromeliad. The bromeliad is essential to the survival of the tadpoles, as they contain miniature 'ponds' of water. Every day or two, the female climbs up to the bromeliad and lays a couple of unfertilised eggs for the growing tadpole to feed on. Nom nom nom.

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