If turtle and gecko eggs or baby fish don’t get you excited, how about an army of tadpoles? Anyone who’s taken the time to scrutinize the Vietnamese Mossy Frogs exhibit in Rivers of the World has probably noticed that its resident amphibians are in a near-constant state of breeding. For evidence of this, you need only look at the water in the bottom of the exhibit, which is almost always brimming with tadpoles at various stages of their metamorphosis into adults.
A Mossy Frog tadpole with newly developed hind legs rests at the bottom of the Mossy Frogs exhibit in Rivers of the World.
Mossy Frogs (Theloderma corticale) typically reach maturity at around one year and have a lifespan of around 10 years in human care. Currently, 42 baby Mossy Frogs have been removed from the exhibit and are being cared for behind the scenes. These range from newly hatched tadpoles to eight-month-old frogs, says Animal Care Specialist II MacKenzie Strickland.
“We also have several tadpoles still on exhibit in Rivers of the World that we will collect,” she says. “We will be sending some to other institutions for breeding/exhibits and keeping some here as well.”
Various stages of Mossy Frog development are visible in the dozens that have been collected from the exhibit and are being raised behind the scenes.
This amphibian, which is native to Northern Vietnam and China, lays its eggs on the underside of the branches in the exhibit. Once they hatch, this placement allows the tadpoles to emerge and drop into the safety of the water.
An adult Mossy Frog looks up at an egg laid to the underside of a branch in the Mossy Frogs exhibit in the Rivers of the World gallery.
Note: If you’d like to know more about frogs and toads (and how to tell the two apart), check out the Ask the Aquarium video tackling this topic.