Pampas region of Argentina, Uruguay, and Rio Grande do Sal, Brazil
Usually near rivers and swamps; some arid regions
Wild: birds, small mammals, frogs, insects, lizards, snakes
Incubation: 18 hours
Clutch size: 200 to 1,000 eggs
16 to 25 years
This is a large frog, up to 10 inches in length. It is strong and pugnacious, with a huge mouth, large teeth, and a wide body. It will eat a variety of food, up to the size of a rat. It is covered with bumpy warts on its upper side. It is intricately colored, with geometric patterns of yellow, red and green on a dark background (somewhat resembling a gourd!). The underside ranges from pink to yellow, and the throat is mottled in gray. The powerful limbs are short, the digits blunt, and an enlarged metatarsal tubercle or spade is present on each hind leg. The colors seem conspicuous when the frog is out of its natural habitat, (helping to serve as a warning to predators), but the color scheme blends very well into its home setting. Its eyelids are drawn up into small 'horns.' These are really just flaps of skin, and not hard or sharp at all. The eyes are set as much as three times higher from the lower jaw than in most frogs, enabling this frog to completely burrow into a loose substrate with just the eyes exposed. Females are slightly longer than males.
Behavior: It lies in ambush in mud or under leaves, concealed by camouflage, and will snap at any prey as it approaches. Even the tadpoles are predatory from the start, attacking other small animals. It likes to fight, and if disturbed will attack larger animals, and will even snap at humans if they try to handle it. It is able to resist droughts by burrowing in mud and forming a cocoon around its body by shedding several layers of its outer skin. The loose skin will still surround the frog, helping it to keep damp until the drought ends.
Reproduction: Amplexus lasts from 1 to 4 hours, with the female depositing a tennis-ball-sized clump of 200 to 1,000 1.3 millimeter eggs, which hatch in about 18 hours. The tadpoles grow quickly, and are carnivorous from the start, moving in swarms to overwhelm other aquatic creatures. After 20 to 32 days the first 2-centimeter froglets begin to emerge.
Did You Know?
Also known as: Argentine Horned Frog, or Bell's Horned Frog