Frog of the Week

Rabb’s Fringe-limbed Tree Frog (Ecnomiohyla rabborum)

Rabb’s Fringe-limbed Tree Frog
Rabb’s Fringe-limbed Tree Frogphoto by Brian Gratwicke 

Common Name: Rabb’s Fringe-limbed Tree Frog
Scientific Name: Ecnomiohyla rabborum
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Location: Panama
Size: Males: 2.4 – 3.8 inches (62 – 97 mm) | Females: 2.4 – 3.9 inches (61 – 100 mm)

The Rabb’s Fringe-limbed Tree Frog was a relatively new species, only being found in 2005. Scientists named the frog in honor of George Rabb and Mary Rabb, two wonderful conservationists. After its discovery, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the frog as Critically Endangered. There are numerous reasons for the listing. The premontane forests that they call home were being destroyed to make room for houses and farms. Chytrid Fungus, a deadly disease for frogs, was discovered to be infecting the frogs as well.

The Zoo Atlanta and the Atlanta Botanical Garden collected some frogs to attempt to breed them in captivity. Sadly that failed and no offspring were produced. The Rabb’s Fringe limbed Tree Frog probably went extinct when the last known frog – Toughie, died at the Atlanta Botanical Garden on September 26th, 2016. More surveys are needed to confirm that there are no more frogs in the wild but it doesn’t look good.

Reproduction for the Rabb’s Fringe-limbed Tree Frog

Besides the sadness from the loss of a species, the Rabb’s Fringe-limbed Tree Frog was really neat. The male frogs would grow spines on their hands during the breeding season. The breeding season was during the rainy season from March to May. For breeding, males and females would breed in water filled tree holes. After mating, males would watch over the eggs in the tree and defend them from predators. The males would also back into the holes at night and let the tadpoles eat some of its skin, similar to what caecillians do. They were the only known species to do this that we know of.

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