Reptiles and Amphibians of Bangkok

Central Thailand's Snakes, Lizards, Turtles, and Frogs

Crab-eating Frog

Fejervarya cancrivora

Crab-eating frog Fejervarya crancrivora Yingyod Lapwong Phang Nga Province Thailand
Crab-eating Frog in Phang Nga Province (photo by Yingyod Lapwong)
Mangrove Frog Fejervarya cancrivora
Crab-eating Frog in Boreno (photo by Ray Hamilton)
Crab-eating Frog Fejervarya cancrivora
Crab-eating Frog in Indonesia (photo by Wibowo Djatmiko)
Crab-eating Frog Fejervarya cancrivora
Crab-eating Frog  in Indonesia (photo by Wibowo Dijatmiko)
Crab-eating Frog Fejervarya cancrivora
Crab-eating Frog in Java (photo by Cameron Siler)
Crab-eating Frog  Fejervarya cancrivora Noel Thomas Malaysia
Crab-eating Frog in Malaysia (photo by Noel Thomas)
Crab-eating Frog  Fejervarya cancrivora singapore
Crab-eating Frog in mangrove forest in Singapore (photo by Mary-Ruth Low)
Crab-eating frog Fejervarya crancrivora Yingyod Lapwong Trang Province thailand
Crab-eating Frog in Trang Province (photo by Yingyod Lapwong)
Crab-eating frog (Fejervarya crancrivora) Felix Fleck Krabi Province thailand
Juvenile Crab-eating Frog in Krabi Province (photo by Felix Fleck)
Crab-eating Frog  Fejervarya cancrivora Malaysia,  CheongWeei Gan
Crab-eating Frogs mating in Malaysia (photo by CheongWeei Gan)

English name: Crab-eating Frog (aka: “Mangrove Frog”)
Scientific name: Fejervarya cancrivora
Thai name: Kob nam kroi, Kob nam kem

Description: Up to 7 cm long. A medium-sized frog with a deep, narrow head and characteristic folds and warts across the back and head. The snout is pointed and beak-like. Body brown or greenish-brown to gray with some darker marks. Both the lips and legs are barred. Color varies from brown, or greenish-brown, to gray, with irregular darker bars scattered on the lips and hindlimbs. The belly is white and can have some dark markings.

Tadpoles up to 40 mm. Body is oval, with a short tail less than twice body length. Color is dark with dark spots. 

Call: A fast call reminiscent of someone gargling their throat

Similar Species: Brackish Frog is only found north of the Ishmus of Kra
Asian Grass Frog has a shallower head and a less pointed snout. It is not found in brackish waters.
Chinese Edible Frog is larger with heavier body and legs. It is not found in brackish waters.

Habitat: One of the rare amphibians that can tolerate water with some salt, the Crab-eating Frog is found on mangrove mudflats, estuaries, and coastal swamps. It will move into manmade water sources as well such as roadside ditches and rice paddies. Its range is generally limited to coastal areas. Tadpoles develop in rain puddles above the hide tide line.

Place in the ecosystem: Eats mostly crabs and shrimp when in brackish waters, but switches to insects and smaller frogs when in fresh water.

Danger to humans: Crab-eating Frogs are not dangerous to humans.

Conservation status and threats: Hundreds of thousands of Crab-eating Frogs are harvested for food every year in Indonesia. Its mangrove forests are also threatened by development. However, the IUCN report for Crab-eating Frogs (Fejervarya cancrivora) in 2004 reported that their numbers were increasing and they faced no conservation threats despite these risks.

Interesting facts: Along with its close relative the Brackish Frog, the Crab-eating Frog is the only amphibian that can continuously live in salty water. It does this by raising the urea levels in its own blood plasma until so that the ion concentrations become higher than  the surrounding environment, so it does not lose fluids to the salt water as other frogs would. It is the only amphibian in the world known to do this. They are also unique in having skin membranes that can more efficiently move excess salt out of the body, such that even tadpoles can survive in at least 50% salt water.

References:

Amphibian Species of the World: Fejervarya moodiei
Thai National Parks: Brackish Frog
IUCN Red List: Fejervarya cancrivora
Amphibia Web: Fejervarya cancrivora
Ask Nature: Plasma maintains salt balance
Ask Nature: Membranes maintain salt balance

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