Frog of the Week

Malagasy Rainbow Frog (Scaphiophryne gottlebei)

Malagasy Rainbow Frog
photo by Josh Ralph

Common Names: Malagasy Rainbow Frog, Ornate Hopper, Rainbow Burrowing Frog, Red Rain Frog, and Gottlebe’s Narrow-Mouthed Frog.
Scientific Name: Scaphiophryne gottlebei
Family: Microhylidae
Location: Madagascar
Size: 1.2 – 1.6 inches (30 – 40 mm) for females; 0.8 – 1.2 inches (20 – 30 mm) for males.

The Malagasy Rainbow Frog is a colorful frog from the Isalo Massif in south Madagascar. They are a fossorial species of frog, burrowing into soft sands and dirt. But, this isn’t all that they do. At night, they come out of their burrows and hunt. They are capable hunters due to their ability to climb vertical walls. Thanks to claws in its front limbs, they are able to scale rock walls. They will hide in small cracks and holes in these walls.

Reproduction happens quick for the frogs. Once the first seasonal rain falls, they will only breed for 3 days following the rains. The males will call out from the rain created pools or near them for the females. Once the females show up, the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female lays the eggs while the male fertilizes them. No parental care for the offspring has been shown.

The tadpoles are thought to be one of a kind in the way that they feed. During the day, the tadpoles will stick their head in the sand at the bottom and feed. At night, the tadpoles move away from the bottom and will filter feed in the open areas of the pool. Neither option seems appetizing to me.

Conservation of the Malagasy Rainbow Frog

The Malagasy Rainbow Frog is listed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Due to their vibrant color, they are over harvested for the pet trade. It is illegal to harvest them now due to this. In addition, their habitat is being destroyed due to logging and mining.

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