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7 Cool Facts about Waxy Monkey Frogs

Learn seven cool facts about waxy monkey frogs from reptile and amphibian expert Jungle Bob in this Howcast video.


From South America we find a large family of frogs called the Monkey Frogs. They get that name because of their countenance. They sit there and kind of have a scowl on all day long and look sort of like a monkey. When they move, they're not really the greatest hoppers. They have long, extended legs and look at those feet. They will grab on and grasp just like a monkey. So, the Monkey Frog is a pretty large group of animals from that area of the world. They all have the same types of movements.

They're one of my favorite things to talk about, however, with children in schools and we go and do presentations about adaptations because this frog has adapted to his environment. You can envision the Amazon and how wet it must be. The lower rim of the Amazon is actually shrinking a little bit over the last couple of millennia, and it's dried out. These are the countries of Paraguay that you don't hear about ever unless we're talking about World Cup soccer. You hear about Paraguay. Otherwise, it's the home of the Monkey Frog.

And he's adapted to a place that probably once was very humid, but is now very dry. And if you know anything about amphibians, what they need more than anything is water. They need water everyday or they will desiccate. They will just dry up and disappear. But the Monkey Frog has figured out a way to sit almost in direct, hot sunlight and still survive. How does he do that?

Well, he's got these huge glands behind his eyes here and they secrete a waxy substance. And if you see him first thing in the morning, what he's doing, if you kids out there ever went to the beach you know what mom does to you at the beach, right? She lathers you up with SPF, right, to get the sun rays off of you.

Well, that's what this frog does every single morning. He rubs his arms and his hind legs across those glands and he covers every millimeter of his body with a waxy substance. And he's then allowed to sit in the hot sun because he's almost cocooned himself in that wax. It keeps the moisture in and keeps the sun's rays out.

Waxy Monkey Frogs are one of the most studied frogs in the world right now because the compounds that are coming out of that wax are being studied for a variety of medicines, pain killers and things that are just still being studied. Unfortunately, for the creature in the wild, it's causing a threat to his environment and his very nature, because they're being collected by science so readily that they're starting to become rare.

In the captive world, we see people trying to breed these. Unfortunately, they are not yet captively bred in the United States. It's something someone has to try and do because otherwise these little guys will be ripped out of the forest and then one day maybe become extinct.

So, the Waxy Monkey Frogs are one of the most unusual frogs in the planet in their habits. One of the most studied frogs by science. Last journal entry I read was someone was looking at potential cures for diseases, such as cancer, through the compounds coming off the back of this frog's glands. An amazing creature, the Waxy Monkey Frog from Paraguay, South America.

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