Tuesday, October 13, 2015


How many times have we heard the phrase, ‘tastes like chicken?' Actually, when I hear that, I don't believe it. The only thing that tastes just like chicken to me is chicken. This is pretty much true, unless you’re talking about a large frog that lives in the mountains.

Photo Credit: www.bbc.uk.co/nature/life/leptodactlyus_fallax

This critically endangered frog is strangely named the Mountain Chicken. So now you’re asking, ‘why is it called a Mountain Chicken,’ right? To answer that question we need only go back to the above written paragraph. In this particular case, when you say, ‘it tastes like chicken,’ indeed it does, according to the locals, that is. I can't vouch for this. However, its taste has earned this frog its unusual name.  

I often wonder about the folks who give animals their names, and whoever it was, in the case of the Mountain Chicken, got everything wrong. This amphibian doesn’t look like a chicken and it doesn’t live in the mountains either. It has no feathers and it would rather live in the damp lowlands.

Photo credit: Goncalo M. Rosa www.arkive.org

The Mountain Chicken is typically found in the swamps of two islands in the Caribbean. At one time, the Mountain Chicken could be found on many islands in the Caribbean, but was hunted so much that populations now only remain on Dominica and Montserrat.

Obviously, the local people liked the Mountain Chicken so much that it is now critically endangered. As a result of their 'taste' for this frog, hunting prohibitions have been put into place in order to protect it. 

Photo credit: Alejandro Sanchez www.arkive.org

It wasn’t just hunting that effected this frog’s population. The eruption of the Soufrire Hills Volcano in 1995 destroyed some of the frog’s habitat. Their populations were seriously impacted. Then in 2001 the chytrid fungus arrived on the islands. This fungus was first discovered in 1998 and has spread around the world. It has had an effect on frog species as far away as Australia and here in Washington D.C. Since its discovery, this fungus has effected more than 100 species of amphibians on five continents.

The Mountain Chicken likes dense vegetation, and flooded forests. It is a nocturnal amphibian, which hides during the day. It reaches lengths of eight inches and weighs up to three pounds. It gets to this size by eating bugs, including, millipedes, crickets, etc., and even an occasional small vertebrate like a frog, snake or small mammal.

Photo credit: Gerardo Garcia www.arkive.org

An interesting fact about many frogs, including the Mountain Chicken, is that they do not drink like other animals do. They actually have what is called a ‘wet patch’ on their abdomen near their hind legs. This patch absorbs most of the water that the frog needs to survive.

So what are we doing to help insure the survival of the Mountain Chicken? There are several breeding programs in existence in zoos in Europe and the US, and the programs have been successful. It did, nevertheless, take some time to understand the mating habits of this unusual frog (to read more about this, go to http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Frog-Amphibian-Species/The-Plight-of-The-Mountain-Chicken-Frog/).

However, scientists are still trying to understand and deal with the chytrid fungus and until they are successful, frogs that are bred in zoos will remain in zoos, and re-introduction into the wild will wait. In the meantime, wild populations of the Mountain Chicken seem to be holding their own in spite of the odds against it.

Here is a terrific video about this unusual frog. It explains the plight of the Mountain Chicken, and the problem that the frog faces because of the chytrid fungus.

My thanks to Arkive.org for some of the pictures. 

Thanks for stopping by. Please return next week for a look at another unusual animal.

If you’d like to learn more about the Mountain Chicken, which isn’t a chicken and doesn’t live in the mountains, visit any one of the follow web sites.


Jeanne E. Rogers 
Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza and The Gift of Sunderland
Middle Grade Fantasy Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!

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