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Friday, June 29, 2001

ANIMAL TRACKER

Far East tree frog


* Japanese name:Nihon amagaeru * Scientific name:Hyla japonica * Description: These small, green frogs grow up to 5 cm long. They have discs for toes and a brown stripe running down each side of the body starting from the nostrils.

* Where to find them: All over Japan (also in Korea and China), but especially in rice paddies, forests, meadows and swamps. They can also be found in large cities. In the breeding season (May-July), males' mating calls can be heard from about 9:30 p.m. until as late as 4 a.m. Females lay about 650 eggs in clusters of seven to 40; eggs hatch after about 60 hours. Tadpoles grow into frogs in about 32 days. Spawning takes place wherever there is water: in stagnant ponds, puddles and the hollows of trees. There are lots of places in the city where water may be trapped and frogs can spawn; look in your local park.

* Food: Insects and insect larvae; also spiders. Froglets are fond of aphids, so they are friends to gardeners. Tree frogs are themselves food for many animals, including storks, snakes, foxes and raccoon dogs.

* Special features: Six tree frogs have been to space, staying as guests on the Mir space station in 1990. Scientists wanted to see how the amphibians adapted to microgravity. The answer? They assumed the "parachute" position, legs and toes spread, like they do when they are jumping -- except that in space, they never landed. Scientists on Mir also reported that the frogs sometimes perched in a similar position to when they are vomiting -- with their heads bent back. Researchers speculated that this was the frogs' response to space sickness.



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