Trinidadian Monkey Frog, Phyllomedusa trinitatis
Description: This is the only species of Monkey frog to occur the island of Trinidad. It is a fairly large tree frog, with females reaching an adult size of 100mm and males being somewhat smaller. They are nocturnal and sleep during the day in a perched position on branches. They have the ability to cover their skin with a waxy substance, which allows them to sit in direct sunlight for long periods of time. The species occurs at both low and higher elevations, with specimens having been recorded between 100 – 1300m asl. This species is considered to be highly adaptable and can tolerate minor disturbance of its habitat.
Reproduction: These monkey frogs lay their eggs in a nest made by the folding of a single leaf or the joining of two leaves that hang over a pool of water. As many as 100 eggs may be produced in a single spawning and these are sealed within the leaf nest. These ‘leaf nests’ protect the eggs from predators and also from drying out in direct sunlight. The tadpoles take between 10 – 14 days to develop, and when it is time for the eggs to hatch they rupture and the tadpoles fall from the nest into the water below. The tadpoles are generalist and feed on a wide variety of things present in the water. Metamorphosis takes up to 2 – 3 months after the tadpoles have hatched, and the exact length of time in which this takes place is dependent on the water temperature. The young frogs lack the poison glands seen in the adults; until these are developed they possess bright orange markings on the thighs and flanks used as an alternative method of defence.
Diet: Small invertebrates.
Distribution: The islands of Trinidad and the Northern coast of Venezuela.
Conservation Status: Least Concern.