Are you scared of animals? That’s a dumb question to ask, right? I mean, there is at least one animal everyone fears in their lives, be it a hound, a lizard, or even a harmless cat. But wait! What about the amphibians and reptiles that are meant to be scary? Sharks, lions, alligators, apes, they are all animals that would kill you in just a finger’s snap, right?
Well, my dear readers, some animals may not seem scary in the slightest, but they are meant to be feared. Animals that have been created to defend themselves from vicious attacks, and those that go on offense at just the mere sight of a human being. How do they do this? Well, just like every human has its own way of making things work, every animal has its unique way of attacking and defending itself.
The horror frog is one such animal. How is a frog horror? What do they do to earn that name? Do they live up to it? Read to find out.
What are horror frogs?
Also known as hairy frogs or wolverine frogs, horror frogs are found in Central Africa. As the name indicates, these frogs have a hairy exterior mostly over their bellies and tops.
The horror frog belongs to the Athroleptidae family. Monotypic with the genus Trichobatrachus, the breeding male has hair on the thighs and other body parts.
Following are a few specifications that would best describe a horror frog:
- 11 cm in length from length to snout
- Has a wider mouth and rounded snout
- Males have more prominent hair on their flanks and thighs that help in the absorption of oxygen
- With horror frogs, the female breed lays the eggs in the water, while the male stays with them for an extended period (this is where the absorbed oxygen comes in handy)
- Even though the horror frog is a terrestrial amphibian, it returns to the water to lay eggs on rocks and streams
- The adult breed feeds on slugs, myriapods, spiders, etc.
Here are a few pieces of scientific information related to horror frogs:
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What is so special about the horror frog?
What makes this amphibian stand out from the others is its unique ability for defense and offense. This offense is said to be no less than a slasher in a killer movie. When threatened, a horror frog breaks its bones to produce sharp, cat-like claws to defend itself. If you are familiar with salamanders a bit, you would know they can do the same with their ribs. However, horror frogs take this trait to a whole new level. Not only
can they produce offensive claws by deliberately breaking their bones, but a horror frog can also extend these claws to a certain extent to attack its offender.
How does a horror frog break its bones?
This can happen due to several factors, of which one is due to the bones already present beneath its skin. These bones are shaped into claws by the contraction of muscles, causing the bones to break and push through the skin.
Even though studies on these frogs are being done, it is not yet certain whether a horror frog retracts its claws after their use or do they go back inside the skin after a period of time.
Is the horror frog dangerous?
Here might be where we answer the “do these frogs live up to their name?” question.
Technically, the horror frog is as harmless as can be, because, in the end, it is just a frog. It gets its name due to the scary phenomenon of breaking bones to form claws, and nothing else.
Secondly, this type of frog is actually hunted and eaten in different parts of the world. If it is easily hunted down using spears and machetes, there isn’t possibly much it can do to harm humans. That said, one should not provoke a horror frog without a reason. As little as it may be, it does have claws to protect itself.
Is the horror frog endangered?
There aren’t many places in which this unique amphibian lives, and yet it is hunted down by human beings. The species was first discovered in 1900 in the Republic of Congo and have been studied since.
As mentioned, these frogs are roasted and eaten in Cameroon. There are predictions that the species will go extinct in a few years.
A few scientist’s words
According to the curator of herpetology at the Zoological Society of London, Ian Stephan,
“This is an incredible story, Some frogs grow spines on their thumbs during the breeding season, but this is entirely different. For me, it highlights the need for a lot more research on amphibians, especially in light of the threat of mass extinctions”
A few unknown specifications of the horror frogs
- Horror frogs are carnivores who eat insects and slugs
- Once old enough, a horror frog relies on its teeth and will eat anything that fits into its mouth
- The male breed of horror frog protects the female’s laid eggs for a period of time
- These frogs haven’t been studied while alive
Just like scientific explorations, animals and their kinds are being discovered rapidly in this world. There are still many species that are unknown to the world, and many have gone extinct before humans could identify them. The era of dinosaurs is one such mystery to human beings whose theory can only be relied on fossils. Just like that, the horror frog might seem like a discovery, but they are growing extinct at a rate faster than the human study can manage.