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What Is a Flying Frog?

By Ray Hawk
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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A flying frog is a type of frog, like the flying squirrel, that has the ability to glide from the top or canopy region of one tree to another, usually in tropical climates. This is due to the webbing between their legs that acts to provide some aerodynamic lift and control while in the air, as well as their small size. Several different varieties of flying frogs exist in nature, and more continue to be discovered as scientists catalog previously unknown species, particularly those located in remote areas of tropical rainforest.

Among the well-known species of flying frog are Wallace’s Flying Frog, named after the naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace. It is unique for its particularly large size among flying-frog types, at an average length of 4 inches (10 centimeters). It is found in the jungles of Borneo, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. Though it makes its home in the mid-canopy level of tropical forest trees, it is known to descend to the ground to construct nests and mate. Like many frog species, it is mostly a brilliant green in color with some bright yellow markings on its sides and legs.

Another flying frog dubbed the Vampire Flying Frog because its tadpoles have black fangs, with its taxonomic name being Rhacophorus vampyrus, was discovered in 2008 in the mountains of Vietnam. It grows to 2 inches (5 centimeters) in length and has a coppery-brown color. The southern cloud forests of Vietnam are its only known habitat, and it has not been seen to descend to the ground for any reason, unlike other flying frog species. The black, hook-like fangs that the tadpoles of the species exhibit from the underside of their mouths, serve unknown functions. Speculation is that the tadpoles, which are born in water deposits in tree trunks, use the fangs to pierce unfertilized eggs that the female frogs lay in the water as a source of food.

Gliding frog species continue to be discovered, with a new one added to the list by naturalists who found 350 previously unknown species along with it in a remote area of the Eastern Himalayas. This version of flying frog is bright green also, with red feet that have long webbing structures that make it a gliding animal. Other well-known species include the Malayan Flying Frog, Rhacophorus prominus, about 3 inches long (7.6 centimeters) and found in Malaysia and Indonesia. Species that are well-known and widespread include the Chinese Gliding Tree Frog, which is a brilliant turquoise in color and lives in China and Myanamar; the chocolate brown Annam Flying Frog, native to India; and the Javan Gliding Frog, found throughout southeast Asia and is sky blue in color.

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