Frogs Of Tropical Africa


carEveryone must know this animal, which belongs to a family called the "Amphibians", a word which means "animals that live both on land and in water. The frog passes the earlier part of its life entirely in water, but later lives on the land. True, it is generally to be found in moist places, but at times it stays in quite dry spots, and then appears mostly during the rains. The frog's body possesses no scaly, feathery or hairy covering; the skin is quite bare and in this way Amphibians are different from mammals, bird, or reptiles. The frog feeds on slugs and insets. The insects it catches with its tongue, which can be shot out for several inches, and which is covered with a viscid (sticky) substance. Once in the mouth the insect is prevented from escaping by the teeth and is swallowed whole. The frog has two sets of teeth, one on the jaw and the other in two small patches on the roof of the mouth. A curious thing about frogs is that although in the ordinary way they breathe through their nostrils, yet in very cold or dry weather they can lie buried in the ground for months on end, during which time they breathe through their skin; they also do this when they are detained under water for a long dine.carof hair like the dog, or fur like the cat; others like the frog have no coat at all, while fishes have scales.

The life history of the frog is very interesting. It commences life as an egg in a mass of some thousands all joined together, but each with a round body of white watery jelly-like substance round it. This "jelly" is very distasteful to fish, birds, and other enemies which would otherwise eat the eggs, and thus the eggs are protected. Frog's eggs have no definite shell like those of birds or reptiles, but have merely a clear soft skin. The eggs are laid in water, and after about a fortnight they hatch out, and the larva escapes. This larva attaches itself to pieces of grass, water-weeds, stones, etc. At this stage it looks like a small black worm about half an inch long. Gradually a definite head and tail appear, and the larva grows much more active, and eventually becomes what is called a "tadpole". Later, the tadpole develops legs; first the hind legs appear and then the fore legs; after that the tail disappears gradually and the tadpole becomes the adult frog. Tadpoles breathe by means of gills; when they are very young the gills are seen quite easily, but later on they are hidden. As the tadpole develops into a frog the gills are lost altogether, lung: are formed, and the frog is now a land animal. Frogs protect themselves from their enemies by the way in which they can dive, swim, and remain hidden at the bottom of water for a long time, and also by the fact that in their skins there is a very sour juice that animals do not like. Other frogs, in addition to this, can squirt out a burning fluid when attacked or frightened, and this helps considerably to protect them from their enemies. Frogs are useful to man. The larva and tadpoles feed mainly on water-weeds, but frog: themselves on harmful insects, slugs, etc. They are thus of great use in the garden. So much good indeed do they do that in some countries they are protected by law and encouraged to breed, for the purpose of destroying beetles, snails, wire-worms, weevils, white ants. In some parts of the world certain frogs are eaten.



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