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Amero-Australian Treefrogs: Hylidae - Yucatecan Shovel-headed Treefrog (triprion Petasatus): Species Accounts

males frog sound legs

Physical characteristics: The Yucatecan shovel-headed treefrog is a slender frog with a flattened head somewhat shaped like the blade of a shovel. It is sometimes called a duckbill frog or a casque (kask)-headed frog. The head has a flat outer rim on the snout and a V-shaped ridge on the top of the snout. The large, copper-colored eyes are set far apart on the sides of the head. Its hind legs are long and thin, but its front legs are strong. The toes on all four feet are widened at the tips into round pads. The front toes have little webbing, but the back toes are about two-thirds webbed. The frog is tan to dark brownish green with brown spots on its back and blotches on its legs. Its belly is white, and the bottoms of its legs are tan, sometimes with a pink tint. Females, which reach 2.6 to 3 inches (6.5 to 7.5 centimeters) long, are larger than males. Males grow to 2 to 2.5 inches (4.8 to 6.1 centimeters) in length.

Each male's call is a duck-like quacking sound. Together, the males sound like a whole flock of ducks. (Illustration by Brian Cressman. Reproduced by permission.)

Geographic range: It is found in far southern Mexico, as well as Guatemala and Belize in Central America. A small population also survives in northwestern Honduras.


Habitat: It lives in fairly dry, shrubby forests and grasslands. Eggs and tadpoles develop in pools of water that form in the rainy season.


Diet: Like many other treefrogs in this family, it eats small arthropods. It also sometimes eats other, smaller frogs.


Behavior and reproduction: It is active at night, when it moves across the ground and through shrubs and low trees, looking for things to eat. Its body color provides excellent camouflage when it sits still against the trunk of a tree. After heavy rains create small pools on the ground, all of the males hop near the pools and begin calling from land and in bushes and trees. Each male's call is a duck-like quacking sound. Together, the males sound like a whole flock of ducks. The females approach the males and mate with them, laying their eggs in clumps in the water. All of the frogs mate in about a one-week period. The eggs hatch into tadpoles that remain in the pool until they change into froglets.


Yucatecan shovel-headed treefrogs and people: It is a very common frog that is often seen near towns.


Conservation status: This frog is not considered threatened or endangered. ∎

Amero-Australian Treefrogs: Hylidae - Water-holding Frog (cyclorana Platycephala): Species Accounts [next] [back] Amero-Australian Treefrogs: Hylidae - Amazonian Skittering Frog (scarthyla Goinorum): Species Accounts

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