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What Is a Leaf Frog?

Marjorie McAtee
Marjorie McAtee

The common terms leaf frog, horned frog, and litter frog are often used to describe the many frog species of the Megophrys genus. Most of the species belonging to this genus are native to Southeast Asia. They are generally small, carnivorous frogs who typically hunt by hiding in the debris of the forest floor and ambushing prey. Species in the Megaphyrs genus have been known to feed on insects and spiders, small mammals, and other frogs, even members of the same species. Most types of leaf frog are similar in build, with delicate legs and stocky, wide bodies, and some species have sharp, horn-like protuberances above their eyes, which give them the name horned frog.

Some species of leaf frog are considered endangered, due largely to depletion of habitat related to human activity. Other species are considered to be thriving. While the various species of the genus Megophyrs may have varying physical characteristics, all leaf frogs tend to share some common traits. The average leaf frog of any species is colored so that it can easily blend in on the forest floor of its natural habitat, for instance. Most leaf frog species have fat, thick heads and torsos, with delicate legs. These animals can't jump far, so they usually travel in bursts of small hops.

Leaf frogs feed on spiders.
Leaf frogs feed on spiders.

The typical litter frog, leaf frog, or horned frog is carnivorous, feeding on spiders, insects, rodents and smaller frogs. These frogs generally escape predators in much the same way that they find prey, by remaining motionless among the debris of the forest floor. Many species are said to be invisible when not moving.

Some species of litter frog are nocturnal, while others remain active both night and day. Most species prefer subtropical, slightly cool, and humid habitats. Frogs of the Megophyrs genus are considered most common in Malaysia and the Philippines, as well as throughout Southeast Asia. They seem to mostly inhabit wooded regions in the lowland regions and river valleys.

Not much is known about mating and reproduction among leaf frogs. Most species attract mates with a one-note, shrill croak. Leaf frogs typically travel to the water's edge to mate, and lay their eggs there. After mating, the female frog will typically affix her eggs to an inundated or partially inundated stone or log. Leaf frog tadpoles typically thrive in still waters, where they can feed on the microscopic life forms often found on the surface.

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    • Leaf frogs feed on spiders.
      Leaf frogs feed on spiders.