English name: Asian Painted Frog (aka “Asian Bullfrog”, “Banded Bullfrog”, or “Chubby Frog”)
Scientific name: Kaloula pulchra
Thai name: Ung-ang ban, Ung yan
Description: Up to 8cm long. A heavyset, short-legged frog with a short broad head and blunt snout. Adults are dark brown with a broad tan or cream stripe on each side. The underbelly is a dirty white. Juveniles are grey with various black and brown markings (see pictures).
Tadpoles are dark and fat with a very thin tail and transparent tail-fins.
Call: Its loud, easily-recognizable call resembles a cattle bellow.
Similar Species: Inornate Froglet is flatter, has distinct black markings, and will hop around like a flea when exposed.
Ornate Narrowmouth Frog tends to be smaller and has a pointed snout.
Floating frogs (genus Occidozyga) are less round, have rougher skin, and lack the bright side markings.
Habitat: Can be found almost anywhere with sufficient moisture, including overgrown lots, yards, parks, forest, wetlands, rice paddies, and even parking lots. Spends the day buried under rocks, logs, leaves, trash, or within underground burrows. It is active at night, often wandering into homes as it forages for insects. Because its tadpoles develop quickly, it is able to reproduce even in areas with temporary puddles that only last a few weeks.
Contribution to the ecosystem: The Asian Painted Frog helps control ant and termite populations. It is a food source for snakes, monitors, and humans. I have witnessed one being preyed upon by a juvenile monitor.
Danger to humans: This frog will excrete a slightly toxic substance from their skin while held, but the poison is weak and poses no danger to humans. You will notice it on your skin when your fingers start sticking together after handling the frogs.
Conservation status and threats: Though this species is collected both for the pet trade and for food, it has adapted well to urban expansion and appears to be thriving in the wild. It sometimes ends up as an accidental stowaway on shipping vessels and invasive individuals or populations have been found in Singapore, Borneo, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, and Guam. It is considered a pest by some standards.
Interesting facts: During the mating season the male frogs float in the water making loud cow-like “honks” to attract the females. The air they suck in in order to make this noise, combined with their already rotund appearance, gives the impression of floating beach balls with legs. The eggs they lay after mating are very small and form a film on the surface of the water.
This frog has spade-like growths on its back feet that assist it in digging backwards into the soil.
Animal Life Resource (Kaloula pulchra): Species Accounts
AmphibiaWeb: Kaloula pulchra
Wikipedia: Banded Bullfrog
Ecology Asia: Banded Bullfrog
Nature Malaysia: Banded Bull Frog
The IUCN Red List: Kaloula pulchra
An Asian species of frog (Kaloula pulchra, Microhylidae) intercepted at Perth International Airport, Australia
Online Field Guide: Kaloula pulchra
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
Hong Kong Amphibians and Reptiles (2nd Edition)