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Tomato Frog 

The Tomato Frog originates from Madagascar and has become a popular amphibian in the pet trade. Their reddish coloration and round shape is what gives them their name.

Tomato Frogs have been known to frequent human-inhabited areas and have undergone a recent listing change based on their population trends. 

Sambava Tomato Frog sitting on a tree trunk in its natural habitat

Common NameTomato Frog 
Other NameAntsouhy Tomato Frog, Sambava Tomato Frog 
Scientific NameDyscophys antongilii
LocationsMadagascar 
CharacteristicsBlack line running from eyes to rear legs
Folds/ridges on sides 
ColorRed, brown-red, yellow-red, orange-red
OriginMadagascar, Africa
Conservation StatusLeast Concern
(Formerly listed as Near Threatened)
FamilyMicrohylidae
GenusDyscophus
SpeciesD. antongilii, D. guineti, D. insularis 
PoisonousYes – glue-like skin secretion 
Max LengthMales: 60-65mm (2.3-2.5 inches)
Females: 85-105mm (3.3-4.1 inches)
Max Weight26 grams
LifespanMales: 7 years 
Females: 11 years
Captivity: 12 years 

Colors and Sexual Dimorphism 

Tomato frogs are known for their bright coloration that ranges from red or brown to yellow-orange for many males or orange-red for females.

Females tend to be larger than males as well, this is known as sexual dimorphism. This is why we see a size difference in the chart above. 

The belly of a tomato frog is an off-white color and they have a long black line that runs from their eyes, down their sides, to their back legs.

This line runs along a fold/ridge on both sides of the frog. There may be black spots present on the back and rear legs. 

Tomato frogs secrete a sticky, glue-like, secretion on their skin. It is known to cause swelling in humans through its toxicity. 

Madagascar Range

This species only exists in Madagascar, off the Eastern coast of Africa.

However, they are not distributed throughout all of the island.

They mainly occur in the northeastern region and along the northern east coast of Madagascar. 

The range of the tomato frog is described as being poorly understood.

So, it is possible they exist elsewhere on the island. 

Habitat and Adaptations

Tomato frogs inhabit rainforests, coastal forests, and secondary vegetation on Madagascar.

They are highly adaptable species who can live in and around urban settlements as well. 

They frequent gardens in human-occupied areas and are known to attract tourists to the places they frequent along human settlements. 

Unusual Breeding Behavior

These frogs breed in ditches, flooded areas, swamps, and temporary or permanent still or slow-moving water.

Males call to females in short, low-pitched repeated vocalizations.

The unusual aspect of their breeding is how often eggs can be found; year-round.

There is no breeding season for tomato frogs, they breed any time of year.

However, they will really only breed after a heavy rainfall.

That is when eggs have been observed the most.

Female tomato frogs will lay between one thousand and fifteen hundred eggs at one time. Eggs are laid on the surface of the water. 

Tadpoles take about 36 hours to develop into tadpoles.

Tadpoles then take around two months to go through metamorphosis. 

Population Threats

Many websites list the Tomato frog as being near threatened, but the official International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species lists them as a species of least concern as of their most recent assessment in 2016. 

They were previously listed as near threatened by the IUCN, however, that listing lasted from 2002-2016. Their population currently does have a decreasing trend

The largest threats to tomato frogs seems to be water pollution.

Since they are an adaptable species, human encroachment is not the largest threat to them, but still a threat.

Pollution and degradation of their breeding grounds is an ongoing issue. 

This species  used to be largely collected and potentially overharvested for the pet trade.

It is not restricted to collect wild individuals and that aspect of conservation is under control.

Frogs are not captive bred and distributed for pets. 

Tomato Frogs as Pets 

These frogs can make pretty cool pets! They can be kept in at least a 10 gallon enclosure, if not larger, with plenty of dirt substrate.

Tomato frogs will want to burrow, so make sure they have enough room to do so. 

Like all frog species, Tomato Frogs do not like to b handled, so limit your handling of them until absolutely necessary for health checks and cleaning purposes.

Remember to wear gloves when handling any amphibians.

Since these frogs are secretive, provide lots of good places to hide. Half logs and plants are well suited for them.

If you want to grow live plants, make sure to do your research into safe plants for frogs! 

Heating and lighting elements are not necessary for frogs.

They are hardy creatures as long as temperatures stay stable, meaning, don’t keep them next to an open window in the winter.

Allow them access to lights so they can have a daylight nightlight cycle.  

How to Find a Tomato Frog in the Wild 

  • Step one: Go to the island of Madagascar off the east coast of Africa‚Äôs mainland.
  • Step two: Find a place to stay in the northeastern region or northeastern coast of the island.¬†
  • Step three: You could venture into the forests, but, as long as you‚Äôre in a town you should not need to go far.¬†
  • Step four: Go searching the ground and underbush at night.¬†
  • Step five: Listen for short, low, repeated calls.¬†
  • Step six: Search gardens, ditches, and under leaves!¬†
  • Bonus step: Search for eggs after a rainfall. 

Fun Facts About Tomato Frogs 

  • Their diet consists mainly of insects, insect larvae, and worms.¬†
  • Tomato frogs are nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night.¬†
  • They prefer to burrow in the mud or under leaf litter.¬†
  • In addition to their toxic skin secretions, tomato frogs will inflate their bodies to make themselves look larger. This is a sort of predator deterrent. 

Sources

AmphibiaWeb. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://amphibiaweb.org

IUCN. 2022. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2022-2. https://www.iucnredlist.org.

Rudolph, A. (n.d.). Dyscophus Antongilii. Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved from https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Dyscophus_antongilii/ 

Tomato frog. Smithsonian’s National Zoo. (2018, December 28). Retrieved from https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/tomato-frog