plants and animals

Mimic poison frog tadpoles wiggle their tails to beg for food



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Frog eggs are typically known for their distinctive gelatinous appearance and the large quantity they are laid in. The mimic poison frogs (Ranitomeya imitator), however, decided to trade in numbers in exchange for parental care.

Brooding only two to four offsprings each year, the parents of this species are monogamous—the only frog species known to be so. When their eggs hatch, the males transport each tadpole to their tiny private pool, safe from the threat of predators but also lacking in food objects to feed on. The safe havens might be hidden up to 6m (19’) above the ground, which is a long trip to make considering the frogs’ tiny size of about 20cm (8”).

To supplement these nutrients-poor daycare pools, the pair visit their tadpoles in a weekly basis, when the female lays her unfertilized eggs for the tadpoles to eat. This process is continued until the babies reach maturity, which may take up to six months.

Studies also suggest that these high-maintenance youngsters will frantically wiggle their tails, essentially begging their mother for food. The hungrier a tadpole is, the more it begs, and the more reliably its mother will allocate the rations necessary for its survival.

Original findings published in ScienceNews.