Asian Painted Frog

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Asian Painted Frogs in La Union (© Tony Gerard)

I walked down to the stream near Lilok Farm and began turning over rocks to see what might be under them. Under one I was surprised to find an Asian Painted Frog (also known as the “Banded Bullfrog” or “Chubby Frog”), a species from Thailand and other countries in southeast Asia.

asian painted frog Kaloula pulchra banded bullfrog chubby frog lilok farm tanay rizal philippines near manila
Asian Painted Frog found near Lilok Farm

A few days later I was looking around the same spot and found another one. This one had much brighter coloration.

asian painted frog Kaloula pulchra banded bullfrog chubby frog lilok farm tanay rizal philippines near manila
Another Asian Painted Frog found near Lilok Farm

What a funky frog! With its fat body, tiny head, long toes, and bright stripes, you’d have trouble finding a more unusual-looking amphibian in our area.

Unfortunately, the Asian Painted Frog is not from our area. The first Asian Painted Frogs in the Philippines were spotted in 2003. It is unknown how they got here – perhaps they came from someone releasing their unwanted pet frogs into the wild. Or maybe they stowed away on a ship’s cargo, or were included in an import of exotic plants. However they got here, they have reproduced and spread rapidly, now found in 16 provinces on 6 different islands.

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Asian Painted Frog calling in Nueva Vizcaya (© Tony Gerard)

You might hear an Asian Painted Frog calling before you see one. They make an immense roar with their huge throat sac, something like a bull bellowing. Sometimes they call from the water and sometimes from land or even a hole in a tree, but they must be calling a lot as fast as they are reproducing.

It is unknown whether they are causing any damage to native wildlife. They primarily eat ants, so they might be a threat to native ant species. They are a close relative to the Filipino frog call the Painted Narrowmouth Toad, and may compete with them for food and space.

Asian Painted Frog asian painted frog collected Kaloula pulchra banded bullfrog chubby frog bambang tony gerard
Asian Painted Frogs collected for market in Bambang (© Tony Gerard)

Some people may find a use for the frogs. They are sometimes collected for market (though don’t eat the skins, which carry an unpleasant white poisonous substance). They also make interesting pets.

A few Asian Painted Frogs from their native habitat in Thailand

Where do Asian Painted Frogs live?

They were normally found in marshes and water bodies on forest edges but have adapted well to human presence, now thriving in parks, gardens, and agricultural landscapes.

What do they eat?

The Asian Painted Frog feeds primarily on ants, eating 200 or more in a single night.

Are they dangerous?

When you disturb an Asian Painted Frog a sticky white substance emits from their skin. This substance is somewhat poisonous. While unlikely to do you any harm, you should definitely wash your hands afterwards and before you eat.

Are they in danger?

Asian Painted Frogs are a recently introduced species that does not belong in the Philippines. They may be putting other animals in danger like the ants they eat or the native frogs they compete with, but this is unknown.

In their native habitat in southeast Asia they are plentiful.

What is their scientific name and classification?

The scientific name for the Asian Painted Frog is Kaloula pulchra. It is a member of the Microhylid family, a group of small frogs with typically stocky bodies and narrow mouths (they are commonly known as Narrowmouth Frogs). Many species in the family have loud calls despite their small size.

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An Asian Painted Frog sits on a tree near street traffic in Bangkok

Have you ever seen an animal that didn’t belong where you found it? What was it? How do you think it got there?

Four-lined Treefrog

common treefrog Polypedates leucomystax tanay rizal philippines
A Four-lined Treefrog found near Lilok Farm

One local animal that might be great at snatching up those Longhorn Beetles is the Four-lined Treefrog. Also known as the Common Treefrog, this acrobatic resident spends nearly all of its time above the ground. Take a walk close enough to the water bodies that it likes to call home (I often find them near streams) and you’ll see them dotted among the trees.

A few of the Four-lined Treefrogs I’ve seen at Lilok and Laguna

With their big heads, awkward long legs, and bulbous toepads on the end of long toes, Four-lined Treefrogs look a bit clownish. And they have a call to match! Depending on the mood, they will sound like a “quack!” from a duck or some mechanic chuckling. So if you are walking through the forest at night, and you hear a frog laughing at you, you’ll know who it is.

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Common Puddle Frog

Common Puddle Frog (Photo by Merlijn van Weerd ZooKeys 266: 1 via wikipedia)
Common Puddle Frog (Photo by Merlijn van Weerd, ZooKeys 266: 1 via wikipedia)

Rainy season comes and the firmament opens. Puddles and pools form in every low spot. From the puddles you might hear soft noises somewhere between a duck quacking and a person sawing wood. And if you track down the source of the sounds, you will see Common Puddle Frogs merrily floating.

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Common Puddle Frog at the Rizal ReCreation Center
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Cane Toad (palakang-tubó)

Cane Toad at Rizal Recreation Center Rhinella marina philippines manila
Cane Toad at Rizal Recreation Center

They’re big. They’re bumpy. They run into your feet in the night.

Everyone has seen the huge tubó hopping around Sakahang Lilok and throughout Manila. But you might not know that these toads aren’t from the Philippines! How did they get here, and what are they doing?

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Luzon Fanged Frog

Limnonectes macrocephalus from Dipagsanghan (photo: MVW) 7 February 2013, 23:17:57 Brown R, Siler C, Oliveros C, Welton L, Rock A, Swab J, Van Weerd M, van Beijnen J, Rodriguez D, Jose E, Diesmos A (2013). "The amphibians and reptiles of Luzon Island, Philippines, VIII: The herpetofauna of Cagayan and Isabela Provinces, northern Sierra Madre Mountain Range". ZooKeys 266: 1. DOI:10.3897/zookeys.266.3982.
Luzon Fanged Frog from Disagsanghan, in Zookeys 266 (Merlijn van Weerd / CC BY)

The Luzon Fanged Frog (what a scary name!) is the large stream frog that lives in the streams and waterfalls that run near Sakahang Lilok.

But why is it called a fanged frog? Inside its mouth are two bony growths on its jaw that look like fangs! Scientists aren’t sure what the purpose of the growths are, but they think it may help them hold onto slippery fish and frogs that they eat in the fast-moving streams where they live.

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