You say “tomato;” I say “Wait! Don’t eat me!”

Tomato frog (Dyscophus antongilii)

Tomato frog (Dyscophus antongilii)

Cute Frog of the Week: February 13, 2012

It’s easy to see how the tomato frog got its name, considering its eye-catching coloration and relatively large size. Males tend to be yellow-orange in color and grow to around 2.3 – 2.6 inches in length, while females are a brighter orange-red and can grow to be around 3.3 – 4.2 inches in length.

Originally from Madagascar, these frogs are a favorite of tourists and locals alike, especially in the town of Maroantsetra. Here, they inhabit gardens, ponds and ditches. The locals refer to their low-pitched call as the onomatopoetic word “sangongon,” with the word spoken aloud sounding similar to the actual call itself.

But don’t try to pick one up! These frogs are known for their sticky skin secretions that they can release when frightened. This substance gets into a potential predator’s eyes and mouth, making it very difficult to hold onto and eat the frog. It also contains a toxin that can cause skin irritation in humans. In addition to secreting yucky goop, these frogs puff themselves up when a predator comes around to make themselves even more difficult to hold onto and swallow.

This species has been listed as near-threatened since 2002 since it lives in a relatively small area, but adapts well to disturbed habitats. Pollution and pesticide use are potential threats, as well as people harvesting and collecting them for trade, which they are no longer allowed to do. Now, most tomato frogs kept as pets by experienced enthusiasts were bred in captivity.

Photo by Gonçalo M. Rosa via ARKive.

Every week the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project posts a new photo of a cute frog from anywhere in the world with an interesting, fun and unique story to tell. Be sure to check back every Monday for the latest addition.

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