Frog, Foam-nest tree

Chiromantis xerampelina


The foam-nest tree frog is adapted for the arboreal lifestyle which it leads. Its natural habitat is varied but includes subtropical or tropical dry forests and dry savanna. In the dry habitats the seasonal rains prompt the females to come together with sometimes multiple males. They will mate and at the same time create a large frothy nest by thrashing their hind legs. This overhangs a pool of water that the tadpoles can drop in to.

Conservation status : Least concern
Kingdom : Animalia
Phylum : Chordata
Class : Amphibia
Order : Anura
Family : Rhacophoidae

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The nest of the foam-nest tree frog offers the tadpoles protection and protein in their early stages of development. After 4 to 6 days the 1cm tadpoles will fall from the bottom of the nest into the water below.

The foam-nest tree frog is able to spend the majority of its time out of water due to its ability to reflect heat by turning white, secreting a wax-like substance to stop dehydration and, conserving water by concentrating its urine.

When foam-nest tree frogs mate the females produce an oviduct secretion. This is then whipped up with her and the attending male’s hind legs to create a froth in which the eggs are laid and fertilised. The froth dries with a meringue-like crust to protect the eggs.

A female foam-nest tree frog will take 7 hours to build her nest of froth. During this process she will enter the pool 2 to 4 times to rehydrate. On her return she will continue building the nest and laying the eggs but the mating is likely to be with a different partner.

There may be as many as 12 foam-nest tree frog males present at a mating, those that have not been able to mate with the female will simply add their sperm to the mixture of foam and eggs in the hope that they will fertilise some of the 1,200 eggs that she has laid.

The foam-nest tree frog spends the majority of its life in vegetation, to enable it to do so it has a number of adaptations such as being able to conserve water, change colour to blend into its surroundings and it has large pads on the end of each toe to aid clambering about foliage.