ABC’s of Frog Coolness

Frog calls in the rainforest can sometimes sound like the dead spirits calling from their graves.

frog eggs

For modesty’s sake, the couple above, held up by the female, is hiding behind a leaf.

A. Amplexis*** can be acrobatic. Five days into our trip, we were out around a little pond on the property, when a red-eyed tree frog couple was spotted on branch. Suddenly, they dropped. The female grasped a leaf with one hand while they were falling, and there they hung to complete their mating mission. The process can take as long as one to two days.

*an “embrace”: the smaller male positions himself on the larger female’s back to fertilize the eggs she drops on to a lower leaf.

Smoky jungle frog Leptodactylus pentadactylus

A Costa Rican relative of Smokey Jungle Frog, both Leptodactylidae

B. Butt shakes and pushups are the way the Smokey Jungle Frog mom communicates with its young, along with growls; or if she’s being threatened, a high-pitched scream. She might lay thousands of eggs, but only a small percentage hatch from the foamy nest, as the remainder are eaten by the first-born.

Rain Forest Frog

Frog at Rainmaker Conservation Project

C. Calls by frogs are as diverse as the frogs themselves, and used as important identifiers and locators by frogs, other animals, and humans. At the Rainmaker Conservation Project in Costa Rica, I was mesmerized and haunted by the sounds at dusk, especially one that sounded like dead spirits calling from their graves. So far I have found no one to identify it. Could it have been this little guy?

Margot with Frog on Arm

My page on the About Them website describes other highlights of the SAVE THE FROGS! Costa Rican ecotour.This photo was taken by our leader, Michael Starkey at the above mentioned project site. I was sitting there with my arm hanging down when I felt something squishy. Fortunately, I didn’t shake my arm or swipe it away, because Froggy and I had a friendly chat for 45 minutes or longer, until we had to leave.


The end of this tale is another major highlight: in Costa Rica, I saw my very first froglet (a tadpole who has grown legs, or conversely, a frog that hasn’t yet lost its tail).

If you love these “tales”, please subscribe to my Frog Blog at If you are in the Rochester area, please come visit our Frog House on Sunday afternoons from the Erie Canal in Pittsford, N.Y.

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