Madagascar tomato frog

Agricultural practices & charcoal production pose threats to these large red Madagascar natives

Franco Andreone

A captivating amphibian species that is endemic to the lush rainforests and wetlands of Madagascar, the world’s fourth-largest island. Renowned for its striking appearance and peculiar behaviors, this frog has earned its place as one of the most iconic and intriguing amphibians on the island.

One of the most distinctive features of the Madagascar Tomato frog is its vibrant and eye-catching coloration. Adult individuals typically display a bright red or tomato-like hue, which serves as a warning signal to potential predators. This striking coloration is part of their defense mechanism, signaling to would-be attackers that they are toxic. When threatened or handled, these frogs secrete a sticky, toxic substance from their skin, which can irritate and even harm predators. This unique adaptation helps deter predators, and it is one of the reasons behind the “tomato” part of their common name.

Despite their bright red appearance, the Madagascar Tomato frog is a relatively stout and rotund species with a body shape reminiscent of a tomato. They possess large, bulging eyes that give them a cute and somewhat comical appearance. Their short limbs are well-suited for a terrestrial lifestyle, as they are primarily ground-dwellers.

In terms of behavior, these frogs are known for their distinctive calls, which are reminiscent of a “tomato-like” squeak or squeal. These vocalizations are essential during the breeding season when males use them to attract females. During the mating process, the male grasps the female from behind and fertilizes her eggs as she lays them in a suitable aquatic environment, such as a pond or swamp.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Madagascar
LC
2016

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No