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Small Tree Frog (Rhacophorus lateralis)

SmallTreeFrog
photo by Dr. Gururaja K.V. Acharya
Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Small Tree Frog, Boulenger’s Tree Frog, Small Gliding Frog, or Winged Gliding FrogĀ 
Scientific Name: Rhacophorus lateralis
Family: Rhacophoridae – Asian Tree Frog family
Locations: India
Size: 1.22 inches (31 mm)

The Small Tree Frog is found in tropical rain forests and deciduous forests of the southern Western Ghats in India. They are a member of the genus Rhacophorus, known as the Parachuting Frogs due to them being able to glide from tree to tree with their highly webbed fingers.

The history of the Small Tree Frog is rather weird. They were first described by George Albert Boulenger in 1883 but no other specimens of the species was found for over a hundred years. Some researchers questioned the validity of the species. Thankfully, researchers in 2000 “rediscovered” the species.

Small-Tree-Frog
photo by Vipin Baliga

Reproduction

The Small Tree Frog breeds from June to September. First, the males will call from territory they take out in the tree branches over hanging water. They will defend their territory from other males. They will even jump on rival male’s head so it can’t call. Once a female arrives, the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female will move to a single leaf where she begins laying her eggs. While she is laying the eggs, the male will fertilize them at the same time.

Once she is done laying the eggs, the male leaves but her work is not done. Next, she folds the leaf around the eggs, thus protecting them from drying out. This is a unique form of parental care in frogs, with only a few other species creating nests over water with leaves. Then, she leaves and provides no further parental care for her offspring. Eventually, the eggs hatch and drop from the leaf and into the water. The tadpoles eventually complete their metamorphosis and return to the trees.

Conservation of the Small Tree Frog

The Small Tree Frog is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as Endangered. They are found only in two locations. Luckily, one of the locations in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. Deforestation of the forests that they are found in is the main threat to the frogs. The land is being transformed into farms and timber planations.

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