Interesting Facts About Black-Eyed Tree Frogs: A Critically Endangered Species

Also known as Morelet’s tree frogs, the Black-eyed Leaf Frogs are striking with their lime-green body, jet-black eyes, and vibrant orange underbelly. They belong to the leaf frog subfamily. They live in lowland mountain forests and wetlands.
Found in moist, subtropical lowland rainforests and wetland habitats of Belize, Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, this small frog species thrives in pristine sub-tropical habitats with permanent bodies of water in which they can breed. It occurs in both pristine and disturbed habitats.
This species occurs from north-eastern Puebla state and south-central Veracruz state, Mexico, to north-western Honduras on the Atlantic versant; and from south-central Guerrero state, Mexico, to central El Salvador on the Pacific versant, at elevations of 300-1,500m asl.
Now classed as critically endangered by the IUCN, the black-eyed tree frog was once found in Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Belize but has become scarce with some populations vanishing entirely.
This species occurs in a number of protected areas throughout its range. Continued survey work is needed to monitor the population status of this species, and particularly to determine whether or not the reason for the apparent decline is due to chytridiomycosis, which is an infectious disease that kills amphibians. A captive-breeding programme might need to be established.
Chytridiomycosis is probably the main cause of the disappearance of populations in Mexico, and the species is now probably seriously at risk from this disease. Habitat destruction due to subsistence and small holder agriculture is also a threat to this species, which also was formerly common in the pet trade.
Black-eyed Leaf Frogs are dying at a rapid rate. Their survival is dependent upon several factors due to their human and disease caused population decline. Some conservation measures are in place, while others are still in need of implementation or research.
A number of protected parks have been created to curb habitat destruction in areas of Central America and Mexico. Taxonomic research is currently in place to further understand the population’s status. More data is needed, however, on a temporal and spatial scale to determine trends in the population of Black-eyed Leaf Frogs.
In this article, we will share with you some interesting facts about Black-eyed Leaf Frogs. Enjoy!
1. Although commonly known as the Black-eyed Leaf Frog, this iris of this species is actually an extremely deep red color. Their flanks are usually bright orange in color but this color can be lacking from some populations.
2. Like many amphibians these guys can change colour to blend in with the foliage around them – check out the difference in the two photos. However some frogs, including black-eyed tree frogs have a special skin pigment that allows them to reflect UV light at the same level as the leaves, making them even more difficult to distinguish. The other benefit of this skin pigment is that it allows then to sit on top of leaves without getting too hot or burnt.
3. This nocturnal species is quite large, with females reaching 58mm in size and males being slightly smaller. The hands and feet of this species are only partly webbed and they have only a limited ability to engage in the gliding behaviour performed by some of the other leaf frogs.
4. During the onset of the rainy season, males descend from the canopy to congregate around temporary pools, ponds and even lakes. Once at a suitable breeding site, males begin to call in a small chorus.
Once a female is attracted and amplexus is achieved the pair deposits a clutch of up to 75 eggs on leaves, roots and on occasion rocks above the surface of the water. The tadpoles hatch after 7-10 days of development and drop into the water below. Metamorphosis from tadpole to small frog can take up to 200 days.

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