Brookfield Zoo animal spotlight: Mossy tree frogs

We’ve got a new bi-monthly feature here called the “Brookfield Zoo animal spotlight.” Each time, we will feature one (or more) of Brookfield Zoo’s animals and give you some background information about the animal(s), its species, its family and its connection to the zoo!

Location in zoo: Feathers and Scales

Birth date: May 2009

How long they have been at the zoo: They arrived from Tennessee Aquarium in June 2009

Q. Give us a bit of background on mossy tree frogs.

A. Mossy tree frogs are native to Vietnam and possibly China. These frogs are particularly hard to spot, and their name tells you exactly why. Their coloration and lumpy skin make them look almost exactly like moss growing on trees and rocks. This great camouflage keeps them safe from predators and helps them hide from their own prey. When frightened, they curl up and play dead.

Q. Are the frogs in your exhibit relatives?

A. Yes, they are. They are all from the same hatch in 2009, and they are mostly males. It’s interesting that changing the ambient temperature as the frogs’ eggs incubate changes the number of males or females born in each zoo or aquarium. It just depends on the situation. Continued research by zoologists will ensure that there is a good mix of breeding males and females in these institutions.

Q. Can zoo guests see the mossy tree frogs?

A. Absolutely! They are on exhibit in Brookfield Zoo’s Feathers and Scales building near the Formal Pool. You have to look hard to spot them in their exhibit because of their camouflage, but we promise that they are in there.

Q. Where can people learn more about these frogs?

A. These are a new species for us at Brookfield Zoo. Our staff is completely enamored with these frogs because they are so interesting to watch. If you visit the zoo, you can stop by Feathers and Scales and talk to any one of our animal care staff. We always love answering questions about any of our animals. Of course, you can always find out more about our animals by visiting the zoo’s website.

Q. Is there anything else that you think folks should know about mossy tree frogs?

A. These frogs are truly unique, and they’re cool to look at. They can hide extremely well, not only because of their coloration but also because sticky pads on their toes allow them to cling to virtually any surface, even smooth ones. Technically, there are 22 different types of these frogs, but the ones at Brookfield Zoo are among the largest. Tadpoles can take up to six months to metamorphose into frogs.

To learn more about mossy tree frogs and the other animals at Brookfield Zoo, go to CZS.org or like Brookfield Zoo on Facebook at Facebook.com/BrookfieldZoo.

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