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Master of camouflage: The Marbled Rain Frog

Madagascar is home to many frogs that are found nowhere else in the world. One such unique inhabitant of the tropical island is Scaphiophryne marmorata, the Marbled Rain Frog. The males of the Marbled Rain Frog grow to 32 to 36 millimeters in size – that’s just a little more than two sugar cubes. You can easily recognize them by their black throats. The females grow slightly larger than their counterparts. They reach lengths of up to 44 millimeters. The fingertips are changed to adhesive discs. On the legs, they carry so-called metatarsal bumps. These function like small spades – they facilitate digging in the moist soil of the rainforest.

Marbled Rain Frogs spend most of the day buried in a thick layer of leaves on the rainforest floor. Only at night do they become active and go hunting for small insects and arthropods. They may appear somewhat clumsy in their locomotion, but they are skilled hunters.

So far, no human in the world has observed this species reproducing. This is probably because they reproduce only once a year for a few days. The time is probably right in the first heavy rains of the rainy season. Then, almost explosively, all the Marbled Rain Frogs in the area suddenly mate and lay eggs. However, just as quickly as the behavior begins, it ends again. For the rest of the year, Marbled Rain Frogs do not mate.

Marbled Rain Frogs are considered endangered because of their declining population. They cannot survive outside the rainforest. Habitat destruction is their biggest enemy. Those who still want to discover the green marble toad should head to the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park or the Maromizaha Protected Area in the eastern highlands of Madagascar. If you like it more adventurous, you can also find the frogs in the Zahamena National Park, which is located a bit more north in the highlands. During the day you can find young frogs crossing the path from time to time and thus they become visible. Sitting quietly on a mossy tree stump or in the foliage, the frogs are almost undetectable due to their extremely good camouflage. They are little wonders of nature.

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