Tomato Frog

(Dyscophus antongilii)




Facts about this animal

Adult male tomato frogs are about 65 mm long, weigh around 40 g and are orange or brown-orange in colour. The females resemble ripe tomatoes: their colour ranges from reddish-orange to bright vermilion, their head-body-length exceeds 10 cm, and they weigh about 220 g. Juveniles are dull brown in colour. The tomato frog belongs to the family Microhylidae, the "narrow-mouthed frogs". There are about 270 species of microhylid frogs, most of them living in tropical habitats around the world. Most have no teeth, but instead have ridges of folds on the roofs of their mouths.

The areas in which tomato frogs occur are almost uniformly warm throughout the year, with temperatures between 25-30° C, and humid. The forest in this part of Madagascar is made up mainly of Pandanus palms, but tomato frogs do not rely on primary forest. They can survive also in secondary vegetation, degraded scrub, and even highly disturbed urban areas. They appear to be localised to sandy ground near the coast, and are often found near farms and towns. Tomato frogs use an "ambush" strategy to hunt for food, sitting in a particular spot and eating whatever insect walks past. Although associated with water, this species is a poor swimmer. In fact, in zoos and aquariums, special precautions are taken to keep the froglets from drowning as they develop from the tadpole stage.

In areas where they occur, male tomato frogs are often heard calling from ditches, marshes and shallow pools after rains, summoning females to breed. Each female lays 1000-1500 eggs, which float on the surface of the water. The tadpoles hatch 36 hours after the eggs are laid, and are "filter-feeders", straining tiny bits of nutrients from the water in order to get everything they need to grow and develop. In human care they metamorphose into tiny froglets about 45 days after hatching. They reach adult size and are probably sexually mature in less than a year. Many frogs can live for more than 10 years, and it is probable that some tomato frogs live into their teens.

Did you know?
that tomato frogs are so brightly coloured to warn predators that they are not good to eat? They secrete a toxin from their skin as a form of defense, and humans who have eaten tomato frogs have suffered severe allergy-like symptoms. By advertising their lack of palatability the animals avoid getting killed or injured by potential predators.


Name (Scientific) Dyscophus antongilii
Name (English) Tomato Frog
Name (French) Crapaud rouge de Madagascar
Name (German) Tomatenfrosch
Name (Spanish) Rana tomate
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
© Franco Andreone



Range Lowlands of north-eastern Madagascar, mainly aroun Antongil Bay
Habitat Shallow pools, swamps and areas of slow-moving water
Wild population Unknown, but locally abundant.
Zoo population 240 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

Tomato Frog


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 45 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
© Vladimír Motyčka

Why do zoos keep this animal

Because of its restricted range and appeal, this species has been designated as high priority by the AZA Amphibian Taxon Advisory Group and is a flagship species for the Madagascar Fauna Group, a consortium of zoos dedicated to the preservation of threatened fauna and natural habitats of this unique island country.