As some of the most visually stunning, vocally amusing and biologically diverse animals on Earth, frogs play an integral role in ecosystems around the world, from boreal forests to scorching deserts to frozen tundra.
In the Canadian Museum of Nature's latest exhibit, visitors to the Ottawa museum will have the chance to hang out with 80 of these fascinating creatures.
Chorus of Colours, an exhibit created by Reptile Land in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, showcases the beauty of frogs, while helping scientists better understand the at-risk species.
Some of the more well-known species that will call Ottawa home for the next few months include an African bullfrog named Jabba, Chinese gliding frogs, ornate horned frogs and dart poison frogs.
The bright-green Chinese gliding frog looks similar to an American green tree frog but with one distinct difference: it can fly ... sort of.
“They have webbing in between their toes, so when they jump they can glide a little bit, which helps them get around,” says Lesley Thompson, senior zookeeper for Reptile Land.
These tiny green frogs also have sticky toe pads that allow them to climb trees with ease and jump from branch to branch, something that comes in handy when looking for food or trying to avoid predators.
Standing — or rather sitting — in stark contrast to the nimble gliding frog is the rotund African bullfrog, which can grow to almost the size of a small dessert plate and weigh about one kilogram.
“That guy could not climb a tree to save his life,” Thompson says with a laugh. “So instead of gliding from tree to tree this guy sits with his amazing camouflage until his meals come to him.”
Luckily for Jabba, food comes to each frog in the exhibit quite regularly — three times per day to be exact — and consists of a hardy meal of crickets or wingless fruit flies.
Some frogs, like the ornate horned frog, however, are perfectly adept at finding their own food. These brown, green, red and black animals are able to pounce on passing prey with remarkable speed and are known to eat mice, beetles, snakes and even other frogs.
While there are almost 5,000 known species of frogs in the world — and new ones are discovered every year — they remain at risk. As humans continue to change their natural habitats, frogs are slowly disappearing around the world.
“Despite this diversity, they’re an endangered group with some populations declining alarmingly fast due to environmental stresses and habitat loss,” says Mark Graham, vice president of Research and Collections at the Museum of Nature.
An exhibit like this one allows scientists to closely study frogs in their natural habitats to better understand them and to aid in future conversation and studies of their biodiversity, adds Graham.
And, of course, it allows kids to meet and greet with some of the most colourful, loud and sometimes downright weird creatures on the planet and to learn more about the real animals behind Kermit the Frog.
The Canadian Museum of Nature will feature the exhibit Frogs: A Chorus of Colours until May 11, 2014.