Critter of the Week: Monte Iberia Eleuth

CONSERVATION STATUS

 

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM: ANIMALIA

PHYLUM: CHORDATA

CLASS: AMPHIBIA

ORDER: ANURA

FAMILY: ELEUTHERODACTYLIDAE

GENUS: ELEUTHERODACTYLUS

SUBGENUS: EUHYAS

SPECIES: E. IBERIA

BINOMIAL NAME: ELEUTHERODACTYLUS IBERIA

MONTE IBERIA ELEUTH RANGE

 

The Monte Iberia eleuth is the smallest living frog in the Northern Hemisphere, and the third smallest in the world. It usually reaches 0.39 inches long, which is about the size of our finger tips! It can only be found in two humid areas of Cuba, providing little knowledge of this tiny species.

 

 

The Monte Iberia eleuth coloration is a dark brown or black, yellow stripes down the back, white striped legs, and a purple belly. Their stark, distinctive colors are used to alert predators of their toxic skin, which causes a paralyzing effect. Similar to the poison dart frogs, scientists believe the Monte Iberia eleuth gets its toxins from its diet.

 

 

Despite the Monte Iberia eleuth’s small appearance, it eats the same things that other small frogs eat. It is a land-based animal, so it will generally hunt on land using a hide-and-ambush tactic. They will eat different invertebrates in the jungle such as insects, moths, spiders, and small aquatic critters if near water.

The Monte Iberia eleuth’s size affects multiple aspects of its body. Their small mouth means fewer teeth than most frogs, their small larynx gives them a higher pitched call, and they lay fewer eggs. These frogs frequently hide under leaves and roots, and can make quick escapes if needed, which is why it is hard for scientists to study them.

Such little is known about the Monte Iberia eleuth’s reproduction that there are two schools of thought on what happens once their eggs hatch. Some say that they skip the tadpole stage and go straight into froglets, while others say that the eggs hatch into water-based tadpoles and grow to ground-dwelling frogs. There is some group consensus though; the clutches are small and that the parents stay close to the newly-hatched babies.