Frogs in the Rain Forest Understory

Updated April 17, 2017

Rainforests are typically composed of a tall, thick canopy of large treetops, a lush, dark understory of smaller trees and bushes, and a forest floor of small plants. Each section hosts its own variety of animal life. Many frog species have adapted to live in the shorter trees and shrubs of the understory. Rainforest frog species belong to three major groups: tree frogs, shrub frogs and poison dart frogs.


Frogs, as amphibians, have permeable skin and must have regular access to water, so they must live in areas with high levels of moisture. Rainforests make ideal locations for frogs because they get large amounts of rainfall. Insects such as crickets thrive in rainforests as well, providing a steady source of food for the frogs. Rainforests that support frogs exist in many parts of the world, particularly in the Amazon basin of South America, Central Africa and the islands of Indonesia.

Poison Dart Frog

Poison dart frogs, known for bright colours and poisonous skin, live in the rainforests of Central and South America. Poison dart frogs excrete poison onto their skin, and some species can be extremely deadly. Their name comes from the native practice of dipping arrows and darts in frog poison before hunting. Unlike most frogs, which try to camouflage themselves, poison dart frogs have vivid skin colours that warn potential predators of their poisonous nature. According to "National Geographic," a typical poison dart frog is 1 inch long and slightly larger than a paper clip. According to the Oregon Zoo, a typical poison dart frog weighs 3 grams.

Tree Frogs

Tree frogs are adapted to live in trees, though they lay their eggs in water like other amphibians. They belong to the family Hylidae. Circular pads on their toes allow them to grip tree branches easily. Tree frogs can be found on every continent but Antarctica. They are not poisonous, and they often have green or brown skin that allows them to hide in leafy surroundings. "National Geographic" reports that some species of tree frogs, such as the red-eyed variety, have bold colours, startling predators into thinking the tree frog is poisonous. Tree frogs vary in size; a red-eyed tree frog is 6 to 8 centimetres long and weighs 6 to 15 grams, according to the Philadelphia Zoo.

Bush Frogs

Bush frogs belong to the family Rhacophoridae. The most famous species of bush frog is probably Wallace's flying frog, which lives in Borneo and Malaysia. This frog has extensive webbing between its toes, allowing it to glide through the air. Wallace's flying frog grows to around 10 centimetres. Like tree frogs, bush frogs live in the understory of rainforests and use their green and brown colouring to blend in with the forest.

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About the Author

Chris Burke began writing professionally in 2007. In addition to writing for student-run literary journals in college, he has authored content for The George Washington University, as well as the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Burke holds a Bachelor of Arts in international affairs and is pursuing a law degree from Columbia University.