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.
A few days later I was looking around the same spot and found another one. This one had much brighter coloration.
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.
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.
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.
Have you ever seen an animal that didn’t belong where you found it? What was it? How do you think it got there?