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Glass Frogs

Glass Frogs

A glass frog’s translucent skin allows you to peek inside its body.

Photo: Geoff Gallice/Wikimedia Commons.

Glass frogs prove that transparency is beautiful and fascinating. These frogs belong to the family Centrolenidae and are found in the rainforests of Mexico, central and South America. They are called glass frogs due to their translucent (semi-transparent) skins, mainly on the underside of their bodies, which make their internal organs clearly visible. Some of them are almost entirely transparent! You can see their beating hearts, livers, lungs and even eggs in the case of pregnant females. More than a hundred different species of glass frogs are believed to make up the Centrolenidae family.

They are mostly active at night, which makes them very difficult to spot for predators such as snakes, mammals and birds. Glass frogs are known to lay their eggs on leaves that grow over waterbodies so when the tadpoles hatch, they drop straight into the water below. Each species of glass frog is unique. For example, the male Fleischmann’s glass frog or the northern glass frog Hyalinobatrachium fleischmanni guards eggs laid by the female and even pees on them to keep them hydrated!* This species is mostly found in Costa Rica.

Another interesting example is the ghost glass frog Sachatamia ilex found in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Panama in central America. It is called so because of its incredible ability to change the hue and intensity of its green-coloured skin depending on the colour of the leaves it is perched on!

First appeared in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXVII, No. 1, January 2017.

 
 
 

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