The male and female tomato frog are sexually dimorphic (look different). Their name comes from the yellowish-red skin of females while the male has a duller yellowish-orange skin. Under the chin some individuals have black spots. Their underside is more pale than the upper side. In many individuals a black stripe runs from the eye down the abdomen.
Their coloration serves as a warning to predators that they should not eat them.
Females are larger than the males. On average a female will measure 8.5-10.5cm (3.3-4.1in) long and weigh 226g (8oz) while males measure 6-6.5cm (2.4-2.6in) long and weigh 42.5g (1.5oz).
Tomato frogs are carnivores. Most of their diet is invertebrates though they will eat other small animals if they can catch them. Some individuals are cannibalistic and will eat young tomato frogs.
The tomato frog is an ambush predator. They will rest completely still near water and when an insect passes it will stick out its tongue to seize the insect.
To swallow their food they will push the eyeballs down in their sockets which increases pressure on the mouth to make swallowing easier.
Wild 7-11 years
Captive 12 years
— AD —
Madagascar is the only place in the world where the tomato frog can be found. Here they live along the north-east coastline of the island.
They make their home in forest and scrub areas. Tomato frogs live near water such as a swamp or another body of slow moving water.
Tomato frogs have shown an ability to survive in areas of degraded habitat such as urban areas or eucalyptus plantations.
Males start calling to attract a mate at the beginning of the rainy season from October to January.
When their call does successfully attract a mate the male will cling on to her back in a position which is called amplexus. Breeding occurs at shallow pools, swamps, and slow-moving bodies of water.
Following a successful mating the female will lay between 1,000 and 1,500 eggs. These are laid on the surface of the water where they will float. It only takes 36 hours for the eggs to hatch.
The tadpoles have black skin at hatching. They will live in the water where they will ‘filter feed’ and strain small bits of nutrients out of the water.
Around 45 days after hatching they will begin their metamorphosis in to an adult. It will take several months for them to go from the tadpole coloration to adult coloration.
Sexual maturity is reached at one year old.
They are nocturnal emerging at night to feed. During the day they will hide among the leaf litter.
Tomato frogs are poor swimmers.
Predators and Threats
The natural predator of the tomato frog is snakes.
Domestic dogs and cats pose a threat to the tomato frog.
When threatened they will inflate their body with air to make them larger and harder to swallow. They can secrete a glue-like mucus from the skin to try and encourage their release. This irritates the predator.
Their color is a warning of this ability to discourage predators from eating them.
Humans pose a significant threat to the future of the tomato frog. This is mainly through deforestation and habitat disturbance. Their permeable skin makes them highly susceptible to water pollution.
They are a sought after pet which posed a major threat though this is lessening with captive breeding successes.
Local people in Madagascar known the species as “Sangongon,” which is a reference to the call they make.
Top and Photo Gallery
By Franco Andreone – see authorization – http://calphotos.berkeley.edu, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3949110
John Mather, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Ambrose, J., 2015. Wildlife Of The World. 1st ed. London: Dorling Kindersley, p.
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