The red-eyed tree frog has adapted in several ways which allow it to make the most of its natural habitat, some examples included sticky padding on their feet and their bright colors which are used as a deterrent to predators.
Introduction to Red-Eyed Tree Frog Adaptation
Red-eyed tree frogs are commonly believed to be one of the most striking and beautiful looking species of frog on the planet; many people are intrigued by their bright colors and big eyes. These animals are typically found across Central America and some northern parts of South America and like to live near ponds and in rainforests.
However, owing to the complex environment in which they live, the red-eyed tree frog has had to adapt over time in order to survive.
These amazing animals have developed some incredible physical adaptations which give them the upper hand when living in these intense rainforest conditions and in this article, we are going to explore these in a little more depth as well as giving you some fun facts about the red-eyed tree frog.
Get To Know The Red-Eyed Tree Frog
When you are asked to think of a tropical species of frog, the chances are that your mind will instantly drift to the red-eyed tree frog since these are potentially one of the most recognizable species on the planet. With their large red eyes, that give them their name and their brightly colored skin, they certainly are not hard to miss.
One of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to brightly colored frogs is whether they are poisonous and in short, where red-eyed tree frogs are concerned, the answer is no. There are only around 100 species of frog that are poisonous but there are also many frogs who take on a bright color as a way of letting predators think that they are venomous. For this reason, a lot of people love to keep them as pets but also because they are easy to take care of, unlike some other amphibians which require a little more detailed care.
Red-eyed tree frogs are native to some northern parts of South America and across Mexico and Central America, particularly in countries such as Panama, Costa Rica, and Honduras. As we have already mentioned, these animals live in rainforest settings and often near small bodies of water like ponds.
Another of the reasons that a lot of people enjoy keeping the red-eyed tree frog as a pet is because of its size; these tiny frogs don’t usually grow much bigger than four centimeters but some adults can be as small as two centimeters and this is perfectly normal. In the main, the female frogs will be slightly larger than the males.
The red-eyed tree frog is very easy to recognize, most notably because of its bright red eyes which are even more striking against the green color of its skin. While most of the body is a shocking shade of green, many red-eyed tree frogs will also have streaks of blue running across the lower portion of the body. Furthermore, their orange toes are another feature that makes them stand out from the froggy crowd.
The diet of the red-eyed tree frog consists of insects but from time to time, they are known to feed on small vertebrates and this can include other, smaller frogs. They are carnivorous and use their long, sticky tongues for hunting and catching their prey.
What Are Animal Adaptations?
When we talk about adaptations, we are referring to any trait of an animal that helps it to survive in the wild. Thousands of animal species have adaptations including our beloved red-eyed tree frog and without them, these creatures would not be able to last in the harsh environments that they live.
In the main, it is widely accepted that there are three types of animal adaptation. Let’s take a look at these a little more closely before we move on to explore the red-eyed tree frog adaptations.
- Structural adaptations, which may also be referred to as physical adaptations relate to any traits associated with the body (structure) of the animal that allows it to be better prepared for surviving in the wild.
- Behavioral adaptations relate to the behavior of the animal, most notably any responses or reactions that benefit its survival.
- Physiological adaptations are concerning any bodily processes that aid the animals’ survival in the wild; a good example of this would be hibernation in mammals to get through the long, cold months of winter when food resources are limited, brumation being a similar process for reptiles.
Adaptations are also beneficial for animals including the red-eyed tree frog as they ensure that the creature is able to reproduce effectively – for example, in penguins, mating takes place in the winter so that the young are mature during the summer months when food is more readily available.
Red-Eyed Tree Frog Adaptations
It is one of the great wonders of nature that red-eyed tree frogs have these adaptations that are unique to the environment in which they live; it makes you wonder how they would be if they were to live in a sandy desert or up in the mountains.
As it is, the red-eyed tree frog has several adaptations that are ideal for rainforest living, so let’s take a look at these and find out how they provide the red-eyed tree frog with a survival advantage.
One of the first things that you notice about the red-eyed tree frog is the bright colors. But these colors did not just happen by chance and one of the most amazing things about these creatures is the varied role that their colors play in their survival.
Primarily, their bright red eyes serve as a way of warding off predators; as we have already mentioned, whilst a lot of frog species are not venomous, their bright colors can trick predators into thinking that they are. But the use of the coloration adaption does not end there.
Red-eyed tree frogs are nocturnal animals, meaning that they hunt during the night and sleep during the day. But in an environment that is ridden with potential predators, the red-eyed tree frog must ensure that he is safe while he catches forty winks. His colors once again come in handy here.
Whilst he is sleeping, he will take shelter under a leaf, and there are plenty of these in the jungle. If you were to go walking in the rainforest during the day, you would likely have trouble spotting a red-eyed tree frog since most of them blend in so well with their green surroundings. Whilst clinging on to the leaf, the red-eyed tree frog will close his eyes to cover their redness and tuck his orange feet under his body to keep them out of view.
This behavior helps them to remain hidden from predators but what would happen if a predator were to spot them? The red-eyed tree frog is well prepared for this eventuality and is able to sense the vibrations of an approaching threat.
When he senses this, he will burst open his eyes and show his bright orange feet. This shocks his predator who becomes confused and will often see a ‘ghost’ image of the red-eyed tree frog. During this time of confusion, the little frog then has a chance to space unscathed, perfectly demonstrated the power of this color adaptation.
Furthermore, the red color of his eyes serves as a way of helping him see at night. This is essential for nocturnal predators as it will help them to better spot their prey as well as being on the lookout for anything that might pose a risk to them.
Colour Camouflage Depending On Mood
While the bright green color of the red-eyed tree frog is one of the most recognizable features of this animal, the colors are not always as vivid.
It is known that one of the most useful adaptations of this species is that they are able to change their color according to their current mood and environment. Primarily, this is used as another way to camouflage themselves and for added security.
When red-eyed tree frogs are babies, they are brown but when they reach maturity, this is when the bright green hue we all know and love begins to develop. However, if the red-eyed tree frog feels threatened, unsafe, or as though it needs to blend in, it can alter this green to something a little darker. But this is not its only limit; adult frogs have the ability to turn a reddish-brown color if needed to further blend in with their environment.
The red-eyed tree frog’s second adaptation is the suction cups that are present on her toes. These serve her in many ways but primarily are used to help the frog to stick to leaves, both while she is sleeping and when jumping from tree to tree.
Life in the rainforest canopy could be dangerous for a small red-eyed tree frog when jumping between the branches but these little suction cups provide her with a way to grab on and stay put as she moves from place to place.
Even better are the red-eyed tree frogs’ long limbs. This is an adaptation that we see in many tree-dwelling amphibians and serves as a way to help her reach higher up into the branches. This is ideal when hunting as it will allow the red-eyed tree frog to gain access to food thank she otherwise would not be able to reach.
Third Eye Lid
An incredible adaptation of the red-eye tree frog is that they have a third eyelid and this helps them in a variety of ways. This third eyelid is scientifically known as the nictitating membrane and sits between the main eyelid and the eye.
This membrane covers the frog’s delicate eyes when he is hunting and protects them from any harm but more notably, the third eyelid is used when two male frogs go into a mating battle. Fighting for the right to mate with a particular female is common throughout the animal kingdom and some animals can become seriously injured. The red-eyed tree frog relies on his red eyes for night-time hunting and it would be detrimental to his survival if they were to become damaged.
Despite being called an eyelid, this membrane is unlike any other type of eyelid as it does not block the sight of the frog rather creating a shield that still allows him to see clearly.
Long Sticky Tongue
When up in the trees, it may not always be easy to access their prey and at times, the red-eyed tree frog may find it impossible to reach the prey in time. But this is where another of their handy adaptations comes in; their long, sticky tongues.
It is not uncommon to see animals that live in similar environments with tongues like this; think of the chameleon, for example. This long tongue allows the red-eyed tree frog to catch its prey from a distance which reduces the chances of it getting away and prevents the frog from having to chase it.
Red-eyed tree frogs are found in the rainforests of Central America and some parts of the North of South America, they are one of the most easily recognizable frogs in the world and many people opt to keep them as pets.
However, much like many other animals, these incredible little creatures have several adaptations that set them apart from the froggy friends who live in other climates and environments. These adaptations allow them a greater chance of survival and help with mating.
Some of the red-eyed tree frog adaptations include their brightly colored eyes and skin, their sticky toes, and their third eyelid. There is no doubt that these fascinating frogs are fit for the environment.
To have a look at our Red-Eyed Tree Frog Guide just click on the image below and have a happy and healthy pet.