Rhacophorus pseudomalabaricus Vasudevan & Dutta, 2000
Anaimalai Flying Frog, Anaimalai gliding frog, False Malabar gliding frog, False Malabar Tree Frog, Parachuting Frog
|Species Description: Vasudevan & Dutta 2000 Hamadryad 25|
© 2014 Sandeep Varma (1 of 4)
As an adaptation to its arboreal lifestyle, the frog has long forelimbs and hindlimbs. The forelimbs have dermal ornamentations and a flap of thick skin with a smooth margin extending laterally on the lower arm at the posterior margin. The hand has an indistinct palmar tubercle. The relative finger lengths are 1 < 2 < 4 < 3. There is one subarticular tubercle on fingers 1 and 2 and two on fingers 3 and 4. The fingers have expanded discs with circum-marginal grooves with the third finger having the largest disc. The fingers have webbing with a corrugated texture that covers two-thirds of the fingers. Specifically, the webbing extends from the distal subarticular tubercle of the first finger to the distal subarticular tubercle of the second finger. From the outer side of the second finger, the webbing extends from the base of the disc to the distal subarticular tubercle of the third finger. From the base of the disc on the outer third finger, the webbing extends to the disc of the fourth finger. Sexually reproductive males have nuptial pads located on the dorsolateral side of the first finger (Vasudevan and Dutta 2000).
The hind limbs have reduced dermal ornamentation in the form of coloration (see below) and a thick conical skin flap on the heel. When adpressed against the body, the tibio-tarsal articulation just reaches the nostril. When the legs are held at 90 degrees from the body, the heels overlap. The foot does not have an outer metatarsal tubercle but has an elongated inner metatarsal tubercle. Additionally, there is a ridge connecting the inner metarsal tubercle to the tibio-tarsal joint. The subarticular tubercles are round and distinct. The toes are fully webbed and have discs with circum-marginal grooves that are smaller than the finger discs. The 4th toe is the longest and has the largest disc. The order of toe length is 1 < 2 < 3 < 5 < 4 (Vasudevan and Dutta 2000). Even though the frogs are mainly arboreal, they also have specialized digging appendages on the aspects of the soles of their feet and fleshy spurs on their heels (Daniels 2005). Males have a single vocal (Harpalani et. al 2015, Vasudevan and Dutta 2000).
The frog’s dorsal skin and inner sides of the thigh are smooth. The skin on its ventrum, throat, and outer limbs are granular. The skin in the groin and around the cloaca has larger granules. It has a narrow waist (Vasudevan and Dutta 2000).
Rhacophorus pseudomalabaricus can be differentiated from all south Asian Rhacophorus species because of its leaf-venation-like patterning on the green body and limbs. More specifically, R. pseudomalabaricus is a species that is commonly confused with R. malabaricus. The two species can be distinguished by their locality and calls. Rhacophorus pseudomalabaricus resides in higher elevations than R. malabaricus, and its call is softer (Harpalani et. al 2005). The False Malabar gliding frog usually lives in rainforests in elevations above 1,000 meters, while the Malabar gliding frog lives in dry, secondary forests below 1,000 meters. They also differ in morphology: the False Malabar gliding frog has black lines on its back, while the Malabar gliding frog does not. No apparent geologic barrier exists to prevent reproduction between the species. This suggests the species are reproductively isolated from each other (Vasudevan and Dutta 2000).
In life, the head, dorsum and upper limbs of the frog are green with small, scattered white spots. Faint black lines will sometimes radiate from its back to the dorsum of its limbs. Metamorphs have more distinct stripes on their bodies, resembling the venation of leaves, which may help them with background matching for camouflage. The limbs of adults have a thick, green line that runs along their dorsal sides and half of the way through the fourth and fifth toe. The frog’s sides and the underside of its limbs are a yellow-cream color. Its fingers and toe tips are yellow-orange (Vasudevan and Dutta 2000). Their webbing can vary from light orange to a darker, red orange (Harpalani et al. 2015). When preserved, the scattered white spots on the dorsum turn purple and the yellow-orange color of the frog’s toes and webbing become a white or cream color (Vasudevan and Dutta 2000).
Distribution and Habitat
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Most mating occurs during the months of June to October, following the local monsoon season (Harpalani et. al 2015). Males have advertisement calls to attract mates that consist of a series of sounds, described as “trrr tik tik tik tik trrrr.” Each call lasts for an average of 2.5 seconds. Recorded using Raven sound analysis software, they attain peak amplitude of 1059 kU at the beginning and 2727 kU at the end. The interval between two consecutive calls ranges from 4.2 seconds to 14.1 seconds. Calls have been observed multiple times at night (Harpalani et al. 2015).
The frogs utilize axillary amplexus during the mating. Females make foam nests during amplexus by mixing excretions with her hindlimbs. The males grasp females with his feet positioned below her cloaca, potentially using his feet to transport sperm into the foam. After an hour of amplexus, and when ovipositioning is complete, the male moves away. The female remains to cover the nest with leaves using a “hugging” motion with her forelimbs. One female was observed spending four-and-a-half hours exhibiting this behavior (Vasudevan and Dutta 2000). Sometimes the nests are wrapped in leaves or other vegetation such as grass. Nests are built anywhere from ground level to 9 meters high near or above water. The frogs have also been observed utilizing invasive species of plants and artificial structures, such as water tanks, for nest sites (Harpalani et al. 2015).
Predators of adult frogs include carnivorous birds and primates, like the lion-tailed macaque. Primates have also been observed feeding on foam nests (Vasudevan and Dutta 2000).
Trends and Threats
Additional causes of decline include being run over by vehicles (Vasudevan and Dutta 2000, Kanagavel and Parvathy 2014, Harpalani et al. 2015) and being hunting or exterminated by local people because of perceived competition for cardamom and being a sign of bad luck (Kanagavel and Parvathy 2014, Harpalani et al. 2015).
Chytrid fungus is likely to occur in the Ghats where the frogs live, but it is currently unknown whether or not the disease affects R. pseudomalabaricus directly (Harpalani et. al 2015).
Relation to Humans
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Rhacophorus pseudomalabaricus is named after the frog R. malabaricus because the two species have similar appearances and are commonly confused. Rhacophorus pseudomalabaricus therefore received the name “false malabaricus.”
Biju, S.D., Dutta, S., Vasudevan, K., Srinivasulu, C, and Vijayakumar, S.P. (2004.) Rhacophorus pseudomalabaricus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2004: e.T59016A11869234. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2004.RLTS.T59016A11869234.en. Downloaded in February 2017
Harpalani, M., Parvathy, S., Kanagavel, A., Eluvathingal, L. M., Tapley, B (2015). ''.'' The Herpetological Bulletin , 133, 1-6.
Kanagavel, A., Parvathy, S. (2014). ''So in India, even Frogs like Spice in their food!'' FrogLog, 22, 18.
Vasudevan, K., Dutta, S.K. (2000). ''A new species of Rhacophorus (Anura: Rhacophoridae) from the Western Ghats, India.'' Hamadryad, 25(1), 21-28.
Originally submitted by: Amanda Lukas, Rachel Alsheikh, Jolina Liao (first posted 2018-03-26)
Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2018-03-27)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2018 Rhacophorus pseudomalabaricus: Anaimalai Flying Frog <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/6527> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Sep 22, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 22 Sep 2023.
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