To put it simply: all day.
Red-eyed tree frogs are nocturnal creatures. During the day, they stay mostly camouflaged (hiding their blue stomachs), hanging from leaves with their eyes closed, appearing entirely green and blending in with the leaves.
If their sleep is disturbed by a nearby predator, they open their eyes, startling the predator with a set of red eyes, seemingly from nowhere. This defense tactic gives the red-eyed tree frog a chance to flee and is called startle coloration.
The red-eyed tree frog’s predators include:
- Small alligators
What Do They Do At Night?
Red-eyed tree frogs spend their nights hunting and wandering, mating during mating season. They have fantastic sight, and their sense of smell is off the charts; this makes them excellent hunters.
Red-Eyed Tree Frogs
The red-eyed tree frog is one of tropical rainforest’s most recognizable, well-known frogs. Their bulging bright red eyes, greenbacks, blue stomachs, and orange feet are absolutely unmistakable.
They are intelligent, fascinating creatures. Possessing adept climbing and jumping skills; living and hiding camouflaged in trees. Red-eyed tree frogs utilize evolutionary tactics and benefits like amplexus, startle coloration, phenotypic plasticity, and a nictitating membrane.
This frog is genuinely suited for survival in the rainforest. It is prepared to hunt prey and hide from predators, which one doesn’t expect from a creature of its tiny size.
Why Are They Called Tree Frogs?
The scientific name for the red-eyed tree frog is Agalychnis callidryas. Agalychnis is a Genus of tree frogs from Mexico, Central America, and South America.
Being arboreal, tree frogs, of course, live in trees for most of their life. Red-eyed tree frogs have solid suction cups on their toe pads, which makes them expert tree-climbers.
There are six other tree frogs in the Agalychnis Geunus with a strong resemblance to the red-eyed tree frog.
Taxonomy of the Red-eyed Tree Frog
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Amphibia
- Order: Anura
- Family: Hylidae
- Genus: Agalychnis
- Species: A. calidryas
How do they have red eyes?
The red-eyed tree frog gets a special gift from being part of the Hylidae family, a nictitating membrane or third eyelid. The red-eyed tree frog’s eyes are sensitive, so this third eyelid protects it from dangers, but it also gives a look that distinctive red color. The red color gives them their night vision. The nictitating membrane does not alter the red-eyed tree frog’s vision.
Where do they live?
The red-eyed tree frog’s natural habitat is the rainforest, south of the United States border (Mexico to Columbia). They favor lowland spots near rivers, ponds, etc. They prefer a daytime temperature of 75-85° F, and a nighttime temperature of 66-77° F. Red-eyed tree frogs tend to live in communities.
What do they eat?
Red-eyed tree frogs are carnivores, so they eat:
- Smaller frogs
As tadpoles, they eat:
- Fruit flies
- Pinhead crickets
The red-tree frog prevents the over-population of its prey, insects, and animals.
How do they reproduce
The red-eyed tree frog mating season is October-March.
Female red-eyed tree frogs consider larger males more attractive when looking for a mate. The females think that the larger males may be older and, therefore, better mates. Adult males’ average size is about 2 inches long, and females are about 3-4 inches long.
During mating season, male red-eyed tree frogs attempt to eliminate mating competition by shaking branches they sit on to make the other males fall off. The males also have a mating call that they use during periods of high rainfall.
The female red-eyed tree frog carries the male to a water body during external fertilization or amplexus. This lasts for several hours. The male sits atop her back and fertilizes her eggs as she releases them one by one. After selecting a leaf in the body of water, she lays approximately 40 eggs.
Red-eyed tree frogs do several things to protect their eggs after laying them:
- Flipping the leaf over to hide the eggs from predators
- Protecting the eggs from splitting and dehydration by creating a thick jelly to hold them all together
The tadpoles hatch from the eggs in 6-7 days. Tadpoles can hatch early if the environment is not safe for them to remain in eggs. This early hatching in response to danger is called phenotypic plasticity.
Creatures that prey on red-eyed tree frog eggs are:
- Water beetles
Tadpoles live in the water from three weeks up to several months. They live in the water until they transform into their next life phase: a froglet.
Red-eyed tree frogs mature into what one would consider adolescent or young adults at two years and begin to mate at three or four years old.
Red-eyed tree frogs live up to five years.
Fun facts about red-eyed tree frogs
- Red-eyed tree frogs change color based on their mood. They can shift to dark green or reddish-brown.
- Red-eyed tree frogs must keep their skin moist, so they depend on the water sources they must live near.
- Red-eyed tree frogs are the canary in the mine of the rainforest. They have been a reliable barometer or omen species in the past, indicating an ecosystem’s health or its imminent collapse.
- The red-eyed tree frog is colloquially known as the “monkey frog” due to its tree-climbing and jumping capabilities.
- The red-eyed tree frog is not an endangered animal, but its habitat is shrinking due to deforestation and climate change.
With deforestation and climate change rapidly shrinking the size of the red-eyed tree frogs’ habitat, it could become an endangered animal within our lifetime. It would be a shame to allow the harm humans do to the ecosystem to become a threat to this creature’s existence.
To that end, in recent years, the red-eyed tree frog has become a popular pet. Many people take one in to keep more red-eyed tree frogs in the world and not allow them to become an endangered species.