Foam-nest Tree Frogs Hatching

Have you ever wondered how the little tadpoles get out of a Southern Foam Nest Frogs nest? Well, no need to wonder any longer. Instructor Tayla McCurdy managed to spot one of the rarest sightings of her career. Let Tayla walk you through her amazing sighting.

As a safari guide, most of us have ‘dream sightings’ of animals in certain places. For some it might be a leopard posed perfectly on a specific marula tree, or elephants walking across an open plain with the sun setting behind them.

I’ve been lucky enough to see all those sightings. My list is a little different! For anyone that knows me will have worked out that I have a small obsession with amphibians and especially foam-nest tree frogs.

Ever since I was a little girl, I was besotted with frogs and amphibians in general. This included collecting tadpoles whilst on holiday, putting them in some kind of storage device and taking them home with me. I wanted to watch them ‘grow up‘ as I would have said when I was just 7-years old. Now I would use the word metamorphosis, only because my vocabulary is slightly more advanced than when I was a young girl.

Foam-nest Tree Frogs Hatching - Frogs
Foam nest Tree Frogs Hatching - Frog

Different Types of Frogs Eggs

Let’s get to the amazing Foam-nest Tree Frogs sighting.

About a week ago, after the big rains we endured at Pridelands, all of the frogs and toads emerged and proceeded to sing their fornication songs. The males absolutely sang their hearts out, some were not impressed by the ruckus created at night by the various amphibians but indulged in the fact that my brain could switch off from the troubles of the world. Within the next few days, little well maybe not so little balls of what looks like candy floss started to appear on various parts of overhanging vegetation above dams, puddles and natural pans. These are the nests of the southern foam-nest tree frog also referred to as a grey foam-nest tree frog (Chiromantis xerampelina).

Once the males have managed to attract their female companions, mating takes place. Frogs and toads alike have various ways of doing so but the common thread is that fertilization is done externally. It’s particularly interesting when it comes to the southern foam-nest tree frog, the male will clasp the female and so the process begins. The male will then deposit his sperm over the eggs that the female lays.

While this is all happening she also produces an oviducal secretion which starts to froth up (which is what you can see above) they both then churn this up with their back legs. By this time more males have joined in and are all competing for their turn with one female! She can lay up to 1,200 eggs during the space of about 15 minutes. I have never seen this in action but it is still on the list. What I did see though was even better!

I was gazing out at a fallen over tree at Ndlovu dam, staring at the foam nests.
It normally takes about a week or so for the eggs to hatch and for the little tadpoles to wriggle down the foamy secretion and plop into the water below where they will continue to develop further. I have said so many times how cool it would be to watch this process unfold. All of a sudden my gazed fixated onto a small black spot at the bottom of one of the nests, then the spot just vanished. Bear in mind I was watching from about 50m away. I kid you not when I say I that I leapt out the car and a dashed across at a speed that would have made Usain Bolt turn his head.

I stared intently for ages waiting for something to happen, eventually, the next lot of tiny tadpoles appeared. Wriggling about trying to free themselves from the sticky secretion that kept them safe for the past few days. I was literally gobsmacked at this sight, once I came to, I grabbed my camera and proceeded to film this experience!

Here is a video of this incredible sighting.

Watch these amazing Foam-nest Tree Frogs hatching.

Think your frog knowledge is up to scratch?

Why not try the EcoTraining Amphibians Quiz and put your knowledge to the test!