Never Ever Ask a Tree Frog : Who is Your Daddy?
It happened a few months ago but felt this is worth sharing with you fellow nature lovers. It was the beginning of the wet season and we were working on the preparations of a natural swimming pool up in the Lantau hills.
With temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius digging turned out to be a hell of a job and resting on the shovel from time to time is just part of it, a big part even 🙂
There are always loads of sounds of insects and birds coming from all sides in the forest and being a birdwatcher since I was a kid my eyes tend to scan the trees for anything moving or making a call. My eyes caught a weird looking ‘package’ hanging on the tip of a branch above the turtle pond, never saw anything like that before so it triggered my interest, not a wasp nest by any chance and too big for a cocoon .. I went down to have a closer look. A foamy bag, slightly yellow on the end of a branch, a bit higher up a similar one but snowy white….no sign of a living thing nearby so I continued my work keeping one eye on the tree…nothing for the rest of the day…
The following morrning at the same spot I heard frogs calling loud and what I was about to witness made me feel like David Attenborough for a while! I saw something moving up the tree at a decent speed, a cute larger frog with a smaller version of it – looking asleep even – on its back. In no time 5 or 6 other small frogs raced behind following the pair up into the tree.
With a determination I had seldom seen they came from all sides and also a few bigger ones each holding a smaller one on the back joined the race. By that time I was holding my little pocket camera. They didn’t seem bothered by my presence at all, those little fellows were on a mission for sure !
Once they reached the end of a branch overhanging the water the big one stopped. 5 to 7 small ones got on top trying to hold on to her body, whatever it took. Some fell off a few meters lower into the pond but with no hesitation rushed back… leaping and jumping between branches to get back to the place of action.
I can’t describe the event as anything other than a frog orgy! After a few minutes the bigger frogs excreted a white liquid , hundreds of eggs waiting to be fertilised by a whole bunch of male smaller frogs, whipping it up with their legs to make the foamy bags I saw earlier in the trees. It lasted for at least half an hour and I could take some nice shots without the focussed little frogs getting disturbed at all.
I did some research afterwards as I like to figure out more about the local wildlife in Hong Kong.
They were Hong Kong whipping tree frogs (Polypedates megacephalus) and they didn’t steal their name at all!
When frogs mate, the male frog tends to clasp the female underneath in an embrace called amplexus, it can last for several days ! When the rain comes after developing for 7-9 days, the foam drips down, dropping tiny tadpoles into the water below where it develops from tadpole over froglet to frog in about 12-16 weeks ….the froggy cycle of life accomplished.
One last thing though : never ever ask a tree frog : who is your daddy?….