My first recollection of encountering tree frogs was many years ago while squirrel hunting. Typically, when dusk descended, I would hear their calls, as I walked the trails at the conclusion of hunts. It was perplexing at the time, because I was never able to associate their sounds with the hidden little critters. Little did I know they were tiny frogs.
Since then, I’ve routinely found them on the side of my garage directly under a light that attracts insects at night. How they can climb and attach themselves to most anything relates to their feet: The last bone in their toes is shaped similar to a claw, along with extra skeletal structures in their toes, and they have sticky toe pads.
Another one takes residence in a door hasp in one of my hunting shacks that doubles as a small cabin. It remains totally hidden until the lock is removed and the hasp is swung away. Never does it jump away; rather, it may move a bit, but remains in place, causing me to leave the hasp open for fear of crushing it. This particular frog is a squirrel tree frog and possesses the ability to change colors with its surrounding much like a chameleon.
Adult tree frogs are insectivores that consume flies, mosquitos, ants, crickets, beetles, moths, and the like. One study suggested the frog selects its prey not by its size, but according to its activity level, with the most active prey being the most frequently eaten.
The same study showed “nearly 90 percent of its prey were actively pursued, with the remaining unsuspecting prey being insects walking or close enough to be snatched up by the frog’s tongue.
They are quite small, because they hide in plain sight on leaves and fragile branches that support them. One I discovered recently was perched on the slender twigs of a button bush and its lime green color didn’t quite match the green leaves and gave its hideout away. However, many tree frogs are arboreal, meaning they live in trees.
One variety dwelling among the rainforests of Central and South America is the yellow banded poison dart frog. If you’ve ever seen a movie in which an indigenous person shoots a poison dart at his prey, the poison may have come from the poisonous skin of these native frogs.
Because the frogs’ poison is exuded from their skin, the darts can simply be wiped on the frog to make them lethal.
By coating the tips of their darts in poison, these people are able to kill game quickly.
The poison dart frogs are not innately poisonous; they become poisonous by eating poison ants.
And, just like the monarch butterfly that is poisonous, the dart frog’s bold coloration is fair warning to any animal that may consider dining on one,.
For it could be their last supper.