Sometimes I run across photos of frogs that just make me go WOW. Raorchestes resplendens is one of those frogs. Recently, the pictures below popped up on my Facebook feed. I love its gummy little feet. It almost doesn’t look real.
Raorchestes resplendens are so rare that using a “common name” seems a bit odd, but they are also called the Resplendent Shrubfrog. These little frogs are only an inch or less from nose to ‘tail’. They are ground frogs typically found above ground in the foliage, although they can occasionally be found climbing. Their appearance is very different from other frogs in the Raorchestes genus, but a molecular study of their evolutionary relationships has put them in that group.
Raorchestes resplendens are native to a small area at the summit of Anamudi, the highest peak in the Western Ghats, a mountain range in western India. Their range appears to be 3 square km (about 1 square mile). This puts them on the endangered species list as Critically Endangered. It’s estimated that the total population is around 300 individuals.
They live in mossy forests and can tolerate a wide temperature range, between 26° and 86° F. Their eggs are deposited into the ground inside bamboo clumps and hatch into froglets, a process known as “direct development“.
Although they are listed as critically endangered, no traces of chytrid fungus have been found in their population. Their cause for decline is still unknown, but the lack of chytrid is at least a shred of good news. They have also not made it into the pet trade yet, which could quickly wipe out wild populations. A captive breeding population would be great, but needs to be done carefully.
This species is found very close to the range of the Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis, a frog that has appeared on social media a lot due to it’s bizarre appearance. It is also endangered. The Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis is a round purple frog with a pointed nose, and is found on the same mountain peak in India.