-- the painted frogs
About a dozen species (one of them
probably extinct) make up this family of rather primitive frogs.
The genus Barbourula occurs on Borneo and the Philippines.
Otherwise, the group's main distribution is centered around the
Mediterranean. Included here are the interesting midwife toads
(Alytes spp.), the males of which wrap strings of eggs
about their hind legs and hide underground until they begin to
hatch, at which point they are carried to water. A new species,
A. muletensis, was discovered on Majorca in 1977. Among
the unusual features of the Discoglossids are the presense of
ribs in the adults and the firmly anchored disc-shaped tongue
for which the family was named.
Oriental Fire-Bellied Toad (Bombina
The oriental fire-bellied
toad is native to the mountain streams of Korea, northeast China
and southeast Russia. Its hardy constitution and handsome colors
have made it a staple in the pet trade. Largely aquatic, it never
strays far from water and is commonly seen basking just beneath
the surface of quiet pools. When confronted by danger on land,
its response is to bend backwards and hold up its limbs, displaying
as much of its brilliant underside as possible. This behavior,
which is shared with a number of unrelated frogs, is known as
the "unkenreflex", from the German word for the fire-bellied
toad. The red of its belly comes from xanthin derived from small
aquatic crustaceans in its diet. When raised on crickets, captive
firebellies develop yellow venters. The eggs of this species
are deposited in a nest dug underneath a submerged stone.