There are about thirty different frog species on the genera Phyllomedusa, living in Center
Almost all of them are arboreal frogs that spend their life climbing among the bushes and lay
eggs out of the water, in leaf nests build during the amplexus.
Phyllomedusa iheringi is a nice, big leaf
frog, seldom seen in the trade that is found in southamerica,
mostly in clearings at the edge of forests, close to bodies
of standing water.
This monkey frog is found in a limited range in Uruguay, in several yet scattered locations, but can
also be seen in the North of Argentina and Brazil.Uruguayan populations of Phyllomedusa iheringi are in fact the southernmost
representatives both for the species and the genera.
In Uruguay, where I live, this frog is known as "Rana Monito",
meaning literally "little monkey frog",
a name that makes a direct reference to his climbing skills. These frogs are equipped
with adhesive discs
on their fingers, a feature that enables them to hold on smooth surfaces such as plant leaves
glass walls when housed in our terrariums. Furthermore, they have an opposable thumb in the hands, making it even easier to
hold on branches and cane where they use to climb.They move slowly among the bushes, or crawl in the ground, but seldom jump
like other frogs.They will only jump, if they are really frightened.
As many members of the group, P iheringi
is an appealing frog, with a bright green on their back and a whittish belly.The sides of the body and legs, are decorated
with a giraffe-like pattern of violet-brown and yellow.After the sunset falls, they can change their emerald green colour
to a darker olive tone, more suitable for night camouflage.
Their eyes are big, as it turns out with nocturnal hunters,
and the pupils are vertical, a disctintive
feature of the genera.As monkey frogs can spend long periods far from the water,
they have to be careful to prevent desecation of the body.For this purpose, they secrete a waxy substance which they rub over
their skin.This prevents water from evaporating from their bodies.
While the gaudi look of this Phyllomedusa
can lead us to think about a tropical procedence, the areas where it can be found in Uruguay, can suffer very cold
days in the winter, with lectures as low as 5 centigrades.
Due to the cold temperatures during the winter months, this
frogs tend to hibernate, remaining still under flat stones until temperature rises, in the spring.
many arboreal frogs, they are active mainly after the sunset, when they start looking for insects and moving among the plants.During
the daytime they remain hidden among the leaves, where their bright green colour help them to remain unnoticed to the eyes
In captivity, however, they can get used to take insects offered during the daytime, specially if they haven't
had a meal for a couple of days.Some authors recomend exposing these frogs to natural unfiltered sunlight, and in fact they
seem to bask in the sun from time to time.
Those frogs like to eat big insects, among which crickets, grasshopers and cicades
seem to be their favorites.Wild cockroachs are consumed with gusto too.
The ones I keep in my terrarium, seem to enjoy
the adding of an ocassional moth, big flies, dragonflies and even small spiders to the menu.When they spot a potential prey,
they try to approach slowly until they are in range to proyect their protrudable tongue, that can be proyected about an inch
from the point of the snout.(Derek is it correct to say "protrudable in this case ?)
If they catch a big insect, they use
their hands to help it find it´s way down the throat.
My experience is that they can be kept in good condition if they
take about three medium sized
(3cm long) insects every other day.Ideally, healty adult frogs should be round and their
shoulder, hip and back bones should not be visible.Obeisity and overfeeding should be avoided as they can be very dangerous.
type of frog can be kept in a medium size terrarium, with a big land section with real or
plastic plants and a couple
of wood perches where they can climb.
Not being active swimmers, the water section will be included mostly to help in keeping
the terrarium moisty and for breeding purposes, to show the frogs where to lay their eggs.However, they will go to the water
every now on then, where they spend a few hours in the shallow part of the water section, only to adjust the humidity level
of the body. It is important to place some plants just in the limit of the land section, ensuring that some of the branches
and leaves hang above the water surface.This may help to trigger the reproductive behaviour of the species.
breeding season, from October to December in the southern hemisphere, the males
call to atract females, using a low pitch,
vibrating croack.The amplexus takes places in the branches, above the water, where the female builds a nest, folding the leaves
of the bushes near the shore.Some reports mention that amplexus can start in the water, before the couple
climbs to a plant
to lay the eggs.Once they have chosen the propper plant, the amplectant pair deposits some eggs on the surface of a leaf and
moves upward on the leaf as they keep on laying new eggs, while the margin of the leaf is grasped by the feet of the female
or sometimes both members of the pair.
When oviposition is completed, the leaf can be seen entirely wrapped around the
egg clutch; and
eggless capsules are deposited to provide moisture for the developing eggs.The
eggs are covered with a thin coat of jelly. Both the eggs and the jelly capsules are sticky and adhere to each other and to
the leaf surface, helping to keep the leaves toghether.
The tube shaped nest finally
contains the eggs and the capsules with water, that help to keep the embryos moisted during their development.Nest where
only one leaf are used, can be found
but most of the times, three to six are used to hold and protect the eggs mass, since
those exposed to direct sunlight will soon dry up and die.
When the tadpoles hatch, about a week later, they fall directly
to the water, where they show a strong social behavior, remaining togheter while they swim close to the surface, where they
search for food.
Tadpoles are light brown on their back, with a pale shade on the belly.By the end of the metamorfose,
the striking colours of the adult start to show.
P iheringii is a big leaf frog, females measuring around
6.5cm vent to snout, and males about one centimeter shorter.
Two or three adult frogs can be housed comfortably in a 30
gallon tank.Considering it is a slow moving species, it can be hard for them to find the food in a big setup.
should be cleaned a least twice a week, removing the droppings and changing part of the water, since they can suffer some
stress when the conditions of the terrarium decay.Droppings are big and compact, being easilly collected without breaking
apart.Dead, uneaten insects have to be eliminated since they can become a source for parasites and bacterial blooms.
they have settled, this hardy and adaptable frogs can live for several years in a proper terrarium.