Paradoxical Frog Fact File

Pseudis paradoxa

Credit: Hugo Claessen, CC BY-SA 2.5 <>, via Wikimedia Commons








Wild 11 years

Captive 11 years




Conservation Status


Least Concern

The paradoxical frog is named for its unusual growth pattern. The juveniles are up to 4x larger than the adults and shrink as they undergo their metamorphosis.

As adults they are carnivores and feed almost exclusively on invertebrates. Tadpoles feed on algae and are equipped with teeth to scrape this off of rocks.

These animals are highly aquatic with the eyes and nostrils set at the front of the head to allow them to breathe and see when under the water.

They are threatened by habitat loss and capture to supply the pet trade.

Read on to learn more about these amazing amphibians.


What does the paradoxical frog look like?

The body of the paradoxical frog is covered by smooth, slimy skin. This is colored dark green or brown. On the underside it is white with brown spots.

These animals possess a wide range of adaptations which help them to live in the water. The eyes and nostrils sit near the front of the head which allows them to sit just below the water's surface while still breathing.

At the end of the body are two long hind feet which end with webbed toes. On the forefeet they have two long toes.

The iris is colored yellow with a brown, horizontal pupil.

An average paradoxical frog will measure 5-7cm (2-2.75in) long.


What does the paradoxical frog eat?

These animals are carnivores which will primarily feed on invertebrates. When seeking out food they will stir up mud on the bottom of a watercourse and eat any insects which are disturbed by this.

Tadpoles feed on algae which they can scrape off of rocks with their teeth.

Paradoxical Frog

Credit: Felipe Gomes, CC BY-SA 2.5 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Where can you find the paradoxical frog?

South and Central America is the native home of the paradoxical frog. Here they can be found in Brazil, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.


What kind of environment does the paradoxical frog live in?

These animals are an aquatic species which rely on permanent water bodies including ponds and slow moving creeks. In parts of their range they may also make use of man-made habitats such as rice fields.

They make use of areas of forest, savanna and grassland.

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How does the paradoxical frog produce its young?

Mating tends to occur following heavy rainfall. Males will gather at a body of water and call to attract females.

Females will deposit their eggs in to floating foam nests before the males fertilizes them. The eggs are colored green.

The name of these frogs is taken from the tadpoles being much larger than the adults. They will reduce their size when they metamorphose.

Young will reach up to 25cm (10in) long before undergoing the metamorphosis. Much of this size comes from the tail which is reabsorbed as they become an adult. Tadpoles may not reach these large sizes if they are raised in temporary watercourses.


What does the paradoxical frog do with its day?

These birds are well adapted to a life in water with webbed toes to help push them through the water.

During the dry season these animals will dig in to the soil and enter a period of inactivity known as aestivation. Their toes are strong to help them push in to the mud.

Males vocalize at the surface of the water while hiding among vegetation.

These animals are nocturnal.

Paradoxical Frog

Credit: Mauricio Rivera Correa, CC BY-SA 2.5 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What is impacting the survival of the paradoxical frog?

The population of the paradoxical frog is considered stable and the species is relatively common across its range.

In some localized populations they are affected by habitat loss from expanding farming operations and human settlement.

Small numbers are collected to supply the international pet trade.

Quick facts

They may also be known as the shrinking frog or the swimming frog.

Their name is taken from the strange development of the young. They shrink as they grow instead of becoming larger.


Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Jackson, T. and Chinery, M., 2012. The illustrated encyclopedia of animals of the world. London: Southwater.

Ariadne Angulo, Diego Baldo. 2010. Pseudis paradoxaThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T55904A11385563. Downloaded on 29 November 2021.

AmphibiaWeb 2003 Pseudis paradoxa: Paradox Frog <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Nov 28, 2021.

Soniak, M., 2021. What a Big Baby: The Life and Times of the Paradox Frog. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 29 November 2021].

iNaturalist. 2021. Paradoxical Frog (Amphibians of Tambopata) · iNaturalist. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 29 November 2021].

hendriks, a., 2021. The Incredible Shrinking Man | Paradoxical Frog. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 29 November 2021].

Franklyn, D., 2015. Pseudis paradoxa (Paradoxical Frog). [ebook] The University of the West Indies: UWI, pp.1-3. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 November 2021].

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