Glass Frogs (Family Centrolenidae) and the Cuyaba Dwarf Frog (Eupemphix Nattereri)

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Nature is full of creatures with amazing ways to defend themselves. Aside from loss and contamination of natural habitat, predation is one of the greatest causes of death in amphibians.  In fact, studies show that the vast majority of frogs and toads will not survive long enough to produce offspring.

Whereas some frogs are famous for their poisonous skin and bright colours, others rely on less offensive methods to defend themselves. In this post I present you the glass frogs of the family Centrolenidae and the Cyaba Dwarf Frog (Eupemphix Nattereri). 

Let's start with the Glass Frogs. They are so named because the skin on their bellies is transparent. Due to this characteristic, glass frogs are known to have been used for teaching purposes. Out of the three genera in this family - Centrolene, Cochranella and Hyalinobatrachium - frogs of the subfamily Hyalinobatrachium have the most 'see through' belly skin. It is believed that the transparent skin helps these frogs to camouflage with their background and trick predators.

The Cuyaba Dwarf Frog, however, relies on a completely different method. This frog has two black and white round markings on its lower back. When threatened, it fools any would-be predators by inflating its body, lowering its head and lifting its rear end to display the markings. The markings justify this frog's famous nick-name - The False-Eyed frog. 

However, the markings are not just an intimidation display. Should the initial showing of the markings fail to deter a predator, glands within the markings produce a noxious secretion aimed at the predator's mouth.

The below videos show both frogs in action:

Review: Cold Blood - Adventures With Reptiles And Amphibians by Richard Kerridge

Although I absolutely adore reading about wildlife, when it comes to the usual nature writing book, I tend to struggle with the cheesiness. Now, I don't mean to say that all nature writing books are cheesy. In fact, there are some very good nature writing books out there. However, generally speaking, the vast majority of these types of books will contain a certain element of human philosophy and self-discovery through nature that, to be completely honest, bores me a bit.

When Cold Blood first came out, I was pretty excited for a couple of reasons. Number one, this was an actual fairly famous nature writing book about reptiles and amphibians. Number two, for the first time ever, it was quite possible that I would empathise with the cheesy bits rather than be bored by them. I am happy to announce that the verdict is extremely positive.

Kerridge manages to relay his passion for these creatures not only in a touching way but also in a distinctly informative way. He manages to educate the readers about different types of reptiles and amphibians whilst keeping the readers captivated with the story. In short, he educates people in an engaging and fun way - like an exceptionally good teacher that makes you fall in love with a subject that you may not have otherwise enjoyed. Therefore, you can imagine what his book meant for someone like me. Someone who shares his passion and fascination.

If you like reptiles and amphibians, you will want to read this book. If, however, you have never thought about reptiles and amphibians before, you most definitely need to read this book. You will fall in love with them and thank me afterwards.

Changing Humans' Perception of Reptiles and Amphibians

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This Easter break I was pleasantly surprised. My better half and I went to visit the family in the countryside of England. While strolling around the farmer's market, we noticed a little commotion outside the town's local pet shop. The local pet shop owners had prepared a special Easter display for the kids with a few animals for them to see and interact with - and I must say that despite the cold, the adults seemed to be enjoying it too. 

You must be thinking - that doesn't sound all that surprising. You may have actually seen something similar before. The surprise came in the shape of a beautiful adult 'candycane' corn snake. And that was only the initial surprise. They also had additional reptile vivariums set up (although when I stopped by, they seemed to have been empty) and a giant african land snail. I was definitely chuffed that the kids got to have a look at these amazing animals. However, my exaggerated happiness was actually due to the fact that the pet shop owners had included such animals in their display at all! 

Humans tend to see certain creatures in a terrible light - herptiles included. Be that because they believe the creatures to be evil or simply 'yuck'. Either way, these reactions lead to a lack of respect towards many animals. Sometimes, the lack of respect can have catastrophic effects on the species - and let's face it, snakes know all about being perceived as evil.

Although the little stall outside of the pet shop may not mean much, it could be a start to a more informed generation. It could mean one less child likely to kill a snake on sight simply because they fear it or think it's evil. It could be the start of a generation better informed about the importance of wildlife. It could even be the beginning to a time when most people won't react with horror and disgust when you mention herptiles! Hey, don't knock the idea off, one can dream.

Regardless of the religious aspect of Easter, I see it as a time of happiness. A little time of the year that I get to spend with my loved ones and appreciate how lucky I am. Therefore, I was glad to have seen the little stall. I am glad that this could be a sign of change - a sign of better things to come. After all, in my world, this is what Easter is all about.