Pint-Sized Frogs and Colossal Spiders: Best Friends or An Easy Meal?

Not necessarily the most exotic of living quarters to us, but some small frogs love to hang out in the dung piles of elephants in Asia. And it is within these massive piles of dung that some tiny frogs have developed a rather odd relationship with some rather large spiders!

Not all live in piles of dung but there are other similar frog-spider relationships out there!

You are probably wondering (as I was) which crazy little frog is going to take up residence with a tarantula? Chiasmocleis ventrimaculata, a species of frog in the Microhylidae family, is crazy enough to do just such a thing!

Also known as the Dotted humming frog, this little guy is found throughout Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. You’ll find it in lurking with the subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, swamps, as well as in freshwater marshes.

And the frog’s unlikely roommate?

A burrowing tarantula that goes by the name Xenesthis immanis. As you can imagine, this spider is certainly capable of killing and eating a frog of this size … but it doesn’t.

If you thought that tarantulas often eat frogs, you are correct.  So why does this frog not become the spider’s next meal? It is believed that the tarantula can actually recognize certain chemical cues given off by the frog – cues that tell the spider the frog would best be left alive and uneaten.  Scientists have observed these spiders actually grabbing the frogs, examine them with their mouth parts, and then release them unharmed! Yikes!

That would be enough to give me nightmares for life but it appears the frogs are okay with this sort of probing and examination. Go figure.

Now you are probably wondering why these two different species have taken up residence together? I was rather curious myself and what I discovered in my research was quite interesting!

It is a dog eat dog world out there sometimes and every animal benefits from its unique form/source of protection.

As you can imagine, being a frog in a jungle is not easy – there are lots of different creatures that will want to invite you over for dinner including snakes, mantids and other large arthropods.  And what better form of protection than a big hairy tarantula, complete with a pretty impressive set of fangs?!?

But what does the tarantula get out of this unique living arrangement? Lively conversation and entertainment? Probably not.  What it does get is a roommate that actively consumes all the little insects such as ants which are predators of spider eggs.  By eating ants, the frogs actually help protect the spider’s eggs!

Free living quarters, ample meals and a personal body guard? Wow, this little frog is living the good life!

If I had not seen this with my own eyes, I probably would not have believed it either! I guarantee you will not believe your eyes either when you watch this video!

By Candace,


About Candace M Hansen

Wildlife advocate, conservationist and environmentalist.
This entry was posted in Amphibians, Featured Articles and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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