Wednesday, August 19, 2009

SPOTLIGHT ON FAUNA - Amazon Hatched-faced Treefrog

All over the Amazon there are "islands" composed of floating masses of vegetation, mostly water lettuce and hyacinths. These floating mats are home to all manner of insects (mostly grasshoppers) and spiders, and not surprisingly to the frogs which feed on them. During GreenTracks' night excursions by boat, we often run the boats up into these mats and turn off the motor so it is possible to see and hear the chorusing frogs all around us. Typically one will see White-lipped Treefrogs, Clown Treefrogs, Polka-dot Treefrogs, and perhaps a sleeping Iguana. But one little frog makes a curious noise, and it sounds like someone tapping two rocks together. A careful search will eventually yield an Amazon Hatchet-faced Treefrog (Sphaenorhynchus dorisae). Green like the plants they live in and so soft they look like they're made of jelly, Hatchet-faced Treefrogs have a Zen-like quality about them. Perhaps it is the horizontal eyes, or maybe their calm demeanor. When it is breeding season these amphibians lay masses of pearly eggs among the water lettuce. But it is the distinctive clack-clack-clack of their call that makes them so typically a part of the Amazon.



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