Today I learned about some very unusual frogs that pamper their babies! Most frogs lay thousands of eggs and leave them to survive on their own, but not the mimic poison frog. This critter is the only known monogamous species of frog (meaning they only have one mate) and only lay 3-4 eggs at a time, all of which they carefully raise. Even more unusual (and adorable), both parents work together to care for their tadpole babies until they reach maturity.
When the eggs hatch, the dad gives each tadpole a piggy-back ride (yes, you read that right) to their own individual pool, where they can grow and develop. These pools are often just tiny puddles containing nothing but water and some algae, which makes them safe for the tadpoles because there is nothing to eat them, but also provides nothing for them to eat. To remedy this, both parents frequently visit their babies to feed and care for them. But these tadpoles do not wait patiently for their meals, instead they beg for their food by going into a frenzy of tail-shaking and wiggling that can last for hours.
The tadpoles begged so crazily that scientists even wondered if it was a scam instead of an honest display of hunger. However, in the lab the scientists observed that better fed tadpoles begged less and parents were more likely to feed babies that begged more, which suggested that the tadpole’s “hangry dance” (hungry + angry) is in fact genuine.
I am ashamed to admit that I have my own hangry dance if I miss a meal, so I can understand how those baby mimic poison frogs are feeling!
Want to learn more? Visit https://www.sciencenews.org/article/piggybacking-tadpoles-are-epic-food-beggars
July 7, 2016