Saturday, June 2, 2012

Living on the tree; a bird? No, Indian Tree Frog!

Every year I receive a leaping visitor. It alerts us about its visit by scaring us with its repeated landing-on-sounds! This brownish yellow animal is found often in moist bathroom buckets or clinging on to one of ceiling corners. On seeing me approach, it jumps, climbs on slippery walls and falls down; hastens to hide itself by cuddling in a corner. This visitor is our Tree Frog (Common Indian Tree Frog, Chunam Tree Frog, Polypedates maculatus). Its habitats are the moist tropical and subtropical forests of India, Nepal and other South Asian countries. But it has adapted itself to the suburban areas having gardens or shrub lands. During summer drier period, it strays into the moist bathroom of houses.

It is about 5cm in length. Fingers and toes are longer for grasping tree twigs. Their tips have discs. Fingers are unwebbed. The frog's ankle reaches eyes when its hind limb is folded and held alongside the body! Its skin secretions reduce moisture loss; the frog even pants like a dog and changes its skin colour to a lighter one! Males are smaller than females and have nuptial pads on the base of their first finger. Their call is short, sudden and rapid 'rat-tat's. Breeding time is the monsoon season. They build foam nests of 9cm diameter on trees. About 850 eggs are laid at a time. Hatched out tadpoles mature into adults in 55 days time.

This tree frog is a wonder animal though it scares all by its visits! It is a poor thing that it does not tolerate dryness: recently I found one that lost its battle with it, as a dried up piece of skeleton in my room corner.

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