ROYAL OAK, Mich., January 20, 2012 – Robust breeding activity among the mission golden-eyed tree frogs at the Detroit Zoo’s National Amphibian Conservation Center has produced around 50 tadpoles in various stages of metamorphosis.  The species is also known as the Amazon milk frog or blue milk frog for the milky-white toxin it secretes through its skin when threatened. 

“Amphibian metamorphosis is one of the most fascinating developmental processes in the animal kingdom.  These little creatures start without limbs or lungs, living solely under water, and gradually change to breathe air and hop around on land.  It’s fascinating to see the frogs in the various stages of this development,” said Curator of Amphibians Marcy Sieggreen.   

Most of the Zoo’s 75 amphibian species are bred in carefully controlled environments behind the scenes; this is a unique and limited opportunity for visitors to see tadpoles up close.  Some of the milk frog tadpoles are still in the early stages of metamorphosis while others have formed hind and fore limbs and absorbed their tails.  Many have transformed into froglets. 

The mission golden-eyed tree frog (Trachycephalus resinifictrix) is a relatively large amphibian, growing up to 4 inches in length.  The frog is light blue in color with bands of grey or brown, and its black eyes are rimmed with flecks of gold.  

The mission golden-eyed tree frog lives high in the canopy of South America’s tropical rainforests, breeding in tree cavities.  Because of its tree-dwelling lifestyle, it is rarely seen but has a characteristic loud call.  Although not significantly threatened at present, loss of habitat due to agriculture and logging could have an impact on some populations.