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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Frogs of the genus Ceratophrys are sit-and-wait predators, partially concealing themselves in the leaves of the forest floor and remaining motionless most of the time (Duellman and Lizana 1994). When prey approaches, the animal quickly attacks, usually swallowing the prey whole (Duellman and Lizana 1994). Ceratophrys ornata consumes primarily vertebrates; stomach content analysis of thirty-four specimens from Uruguay included 78.5% anurans, 11.7% passerine birds, 7.7% rodents, and 0.3% snakes, leaving only 1.8% as "other" (Basso 1990).
It burrows during autumn and winter (Canziani and Cannata 1979). While buried, it creates a cocoon around itself to protect from water loss (Canziani and Cannata 1979). It emerges to breed in the late spring, when enough rain has fallen to create temporary pools (Canziani and Cannata 1979). Eggs are laid on the bottom of these temporary ponds (Stuart et al. 2008).
Tadpoles of this species can make distress calls both underwater and out of water. This is the first example of any larva (vertebrate or invertebrate) communicating underwater by sound, as well as the first known of any vertebrate larva to make sounds at all. C. ornuta tadpoles are able to make these calls as early as three days after hatching, and can do so both in the water and out of the water. It is not known how other tadpoles perceive the calls, but while C. ornata larvae are carnivorous towards tadpoles of other species, they do not consume conspecific tadpoles. To hear the sound, check out the two video clips in the associated BBC news story.