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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

ANIMAL TRACKER

Schlegel's green tree frog


* Japanese name: Schlegel-aogaeru
* Scientific name: Rhacophorus schlegelii
* Description: Schlegel's green tree frog is a medium-sized tree frog, which at a few centimeters long still makes it smaller than most other frogs and toads. The back is green, although some frogs have small yellow spots on their backs. The belly is white, and the male has black dots on its throat. It has large yellow eyes and, in this species, the toe pads are rather large. Males grow to between 32-43 mm; females are larger, coming in at 43-53-mm long.
* Where to find them: Schlegel's green tree frog can be found in rice fields in Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. It also lives near swamps, and in grassland or woodland where there is water nearby. Given the name, it's no surprise that they are often seen in trees.
* Food: Insects mainly, with crickets and grasshoppers preferred, but tree frogs will also take flies and moths, and are partial to earthworms. The frogs are only small, but they are agile and sure-footed, and can swiftly pursue and capture an insect that has landed in a tree.
* Special features: Tree frogs are noisy. Males begin calling at the end of March to attract females. Once they have been successful, and have mated, in mid-April to May the females lay their eggs. Unlike frogs that lay a mass of spawn in water, tree frogs deposit their white and foamy egg mass underground. A favored spot is the soil ridge on the edge of a rice field. Tadpoles hatch after about a week, and by the end of June they start to transform into frogs. The frogs are very noisy before rainfall, probably sensing the approach of rain through a change in air pressure. Some people in Japan used to keep a tree frog in a cage or tank as a kind of living barometer. Strangely, Japanese scientists have studied motion sickness in Schlegel's green tree frog, by taking them in a parabolic flight so the frogs experience microgravity. Despite their agility and prowess in tree-climbing, the frogs seem unusually susceptible to motion sickness, which the scientists measured by the rate of vomiting shown by the frogs in microgravity. Their skin has antimicrobial properties.

PHOTO COURTESY OF BIO-IMAGE NET



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