Who needs balloons animals?


Túngara Frog (Engystomops pustulosus)

Now that the rains have set in, it is tough to find a freshwater ditch or puddle in Panama that does not have the tell-tail ‘cuieeeeeee-chuck’ calls of male túngara frogs hoping to attract a mate. If you live in Panama, follow this distinctive call to its source and you are likely to find an otherwise unremarkable, warty little creature putting on the performance of his life. This tiny brown comedian turns his whole body into an inflatable pool-toy on the water, exuding air from his swollen body into a huge gular pouch and back again.

Frogs that can avoid the attention of voracious frog-eating bats drawn to their calls pair with females and whip up the egg mass into a stiff white foam nest, using their hind legs like egg-beaters. The foam protects developing embryos from dehydration, sunlight and pathogens until they hatch after around 4 days. Check out this video about Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Scientist Rachel Page, who studies these little creatures and the bats that snack on them.

Tungara frogs are thankfully still thriving in the wild and are listed by the IUCN as least concern.

Photo courtesy of Brian Gratwicke. Send us your own cute frogs by uploading your photos on flickr here.

How many “chucks” could a Tungara frog chuck if a Tungara frog could chuck…“chucks?”


Tungara frog (Engystomops pustulosus)

Tungara frog (Engystomops pustulosus)

Cute Frog of the Week: August 23, 2010

Try that tongue twister on for size. But in the world of the tungara frog, “chucking” is no laughing matter. The more a male can “chuck,” the more attractive he is to potential mates. This unique call, made only by males, is a sound the ladies love, says the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. But female tungaras aren’t the only ones that perk up to this unlikely siren song. Predators, such as the fringe-lipped bat, do, too. Could you imagine being hunted by a predator and a mate at the same time? Talk about a stressful predicament! But if they make it out alive, the male and female produce foam nests chock full of eggs that—protected from sunlight, disease and heat—will eventually hatch and carry on the “chucking” tune.

Photo credit: Brian Gratwicke, Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project.

Banded horned tree frog (Hemiphractus fasciatus) ALL-NEW frog ringtones: Download the tungara frog’s call!

Like what you see here? Then hop to it and text “FROG” to 20222 to give $5 to save a frog today! (Find the privacy policy here.)

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.