Monkey frog

By Eleanor Warren-Thomas

Giant Monkey frog

Monkey frog

Scientific Name: Phyllomedusa bicolor

The Monkey frog lives in the Amazon Basin in South America, and can be found in Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and the Guianas. It lives from 0 to 800 meters (2600 feet) above sea level. As you can guess by its name, the Monkey frog likes to climb, and is part of the tree frog family. You can find it in sitting in trees well above the ground in warm tropical rainforest. It has also been found living in drier 'cerrado' forest in Brazil.

Monkey frogs are nocturnal. The males come out at night from their hiding places to call loudly from the trees, and hunt for food. Males call to defend territories and attract mates, but females don't do this - they just get on with finding food! They are carnivorous, and eat insects and any other small creatures they can catch.

The species is listed as "Least Concern" on the IUCN Red List, which is a record of how endangered species are. This means that the species is doing OK, it is widespread, and there is no evidence that the species is in trouble. However, deforestation means that the frog is losing its habitat, and we must be careful that the Monkey frog doesn't become endangered in the future.

Monkey frogs are about 9 - 12 cm long, and the females are bigger than the males. This is because they have to produce eggs (frogspawn) and need to be bigger, stronger and have more energy than the males.

Monkey frogs make nests out of leaves in which the females lay the eggs. The frogs make the nests in a tree hanging over a pond or pool, so that when the tadpoles hatch out of the eggs, they will drop into the water where they can feed, and develop into frogs.

Monkey frogs have a special talent: they produce a waxy poisonous substance which they spread over their skin. It tastes nasty to predators, so it reduces their chances of being eaten. Some Amazonian tribes (the Matses and Mayoruna peoples) living in the rainforest use this poison to heighten their senses and improve their luck when they go hunting, although it does also make them feel very unwell. People are becoming interested in the chemicals found in the poison, in case it is useful for medicine.

Monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor)
Monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor)

Monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor) in the Amazon rain forest
Monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor) in the Amazon rain forest

Monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor)
Monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor)

Monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor) on forest floor
Monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor) on forest floor

Monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor)
Monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor)

Monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor) being handled by researcher
Monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor) being handled by researcher

Monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor) being handled by researcher
Monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor) being handled by researcher

Monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor)
Monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor)

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