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Parsley Frogs: Pelodytidae

Behavior And Reproduction

By day, parsley frogs take cover under rocks or in the bushes or grass that grow along walls. They leave their hiding places as the sun sets and begin hopping about looking for food. They usually stay fairly close to a body of water. If they feel threatened, they can either use their long, strong legs to leap out of sight on land or into the water, where they are good swimmers. The warts on their skin contain a bad-tasting poison, which is useful if a predator happens to catch and try to eat one.

When fall comes, some of the parsley frogs that live in colder areas prepare for hibernation (high-bur-NAY-shun), which is a state of deep sleep. They may start hibernating as early as September and not become active again until the following March. The Iberian parsley frog, which lives in the warmer climate of southern Spain and southern Portugal, remains active all year long and actually is the most lively in winter, when the cold-climate species are hibernating.

For cold-climate species, mating begins in the spring when warm rains soak the ground. In its much warmer climate, however, the Iberian parsley frog mates from fall to spring and becomes less active in the hot summer months. The males travel to ponds, puddles, and sometimes very slow-flowing streams and start calling. Scientists believe that they may call underwater. To mate, a male climbs onto female's back, and she lays her eggs. A female may lay several dozen eggs at a time and, depending on the species, may lay several hundred over the whole night. Sometimes, they may breed more than once a year, such as spring and fall. The eggs attach to sticks and leaves underwater and eventually hatch into tadpoles. Eggs of the Iberian parsley frog hatch quickly, needing just a week before the tadpoles wiggle out.

Depending on the species of parsley frog and the weather, the tadpoles may change into froglets about two to three months later, may hibernate as tadpoles and make the change the second year, or may hibernate yet again and change into froglets in their third year. Tadpoles hibernate by sinking into the mud at the bottom of their pond or pool of water and remaining there until the spring. Tadpoles that wait longer to change into froglets can grow quite large, sometimes even becoming bigger than the adults. Parsley frogs usually are old enough to have young of their own when they are two to three years old. Only frogs, and not tadpoles, can mate and have young.


In some species, such as the parsley frogs, the tadpoles can be larger than the adults. How can this be? The answer is in the tail. As a tadpole changes into a froglet, it absorbs its tail. In other words, the tail disappears into the body. Often, new froglets still have small stumps of tail that have not yet vanished. In most frogs, tadpoles make the change into froglets when they are just a few months old. In parsley frogs and some other types of frogs, however, the tadpoles may not become froglets for one or two years. These especially old tadpoles can grow to be quite large—sometimes nearly twice as big as the adults.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceAmphibiansParsley Frogs: Pelodytidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Parsley Frog (pelodytes Punctatus): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, PARSLEY FROGS AND PEOPLE