Rhacophorus vampyrus

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Rhacophorus vampyrus
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Rhacophoridae
Genus: Rhacophorus
R. vampyrus
Binomial name
Rhacophorus vampyrus
Rowley, Le, Tran, Stuart, and Hoang, 2010

Rhacophorus vampyrus is a medium-sized species of flying frogs endemic to Vietnam.[2][3] It is found in montane evergreen forests at 1470–2004 m.[2] It is also known as the vampire tree frog[2] or the vampire flying frog[4][5][6] because of the presence of a pair of fang-like hooks in mouth of the tadpoles.[6] Its Vietnamese name is Ếch cây ma cà rồng.[2] The frog is adapted to arboreal living with webbings of feet that allow it to glide between trees. The first specimen was discovered in 2008 by Jodi Rowley of the Australian Museum at Sydney, Australia, and her student Le Thi Thuy Duong from Ho Chi Minh City University of Science. After collecting more specimens in 2009 and 2010, her team described the new species in the journal Zootaxa in 2010.[7][8]


R. vampyrus can grow to 4.5 cm.[5] The back is pale copper-brown with fainter, dark-brown mottling. The chest and belly are white with a very small amount of black mottling at the edge of the chest. The upper surfaces of the arms and legs are copper brown with diffuse dark-brown barring. The upper surfaces of the hands and feet are copper brown which fades to pinkish-cream or grey at the fingers and toes. The lower surfaces of the hands and feet are pale grey. The upper surface of webbing of the hands and feet is dark grey to black in colour. The lower surfaces are grey. R. vampyrus has pale yellow/gold irises with a small rim of blue.[2]


R. vampyrus is so far known only in southern Vietnam.[1] Specimens were first found inside Bidoup Núi Bà National Park, although scientists expected to find them to be more widely distributed on the Langbian Plateau (specifically in Chư Yang Sin National Park and Phước Bình National Park).[2] They have been later found in Ta Dung Nature reserve, Dak Glong District.[9]

Life cycle[edit]

R. vampyrus is a phytotelm breeder and lays its eggs in small water-filled tree holes during the rainy seasons, generally 0.3-1.2 m above the ground. The eggs are laid in foam nests on the wall of the tree hole. Tadpoles develop from the non-pigmented eggs. The tadpoles are long and dark-brown in colour. Their tails are about three times as long as their bodies. The species shows an unusual tadpole mouthpart morphology unknown in other anurans, namely presence of a specific serrated horny arch on the upper jaw, and a pair of fang-like horny teeth on the lower jaw. The two keratinised hooks project forward, and are supported laterally by two similar sized fleshy papillae on the margin of the reduced lower labium.[2] The species is named after these unusual "fangs".[6] These unique mouthparts indicate that the tadpoles are strictly feeding on eggs (oophagous) and the extra unfertilised eggs (specifically for food) are deposited by the mother frog in the water hole. This is an example of advanced parental care.[9][10]


  1. ^ a b IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group (2014). "Rhacophorus vampyrus". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2014: e.T47143971A47144061. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-1.RLTS.T47143971A47144061.en. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Jodi J. L. Rowley; Le Thi Thuy Duong; Tran Thi Anh Dao; Bryan L. Stuart & Hoang Duc Huy (2010). "A new tree frog of the genus Rhacophorus (Anura: Rhacophoridae) from southern Vietnam" (PDF). Zootaxa. 2727: 45–55.
  3. ^ Frost, Darrel R. (2014). "Rhacophorus vampyrus Rowley, Le, Thi, Stuart, and Hoang, 2010". Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.0. American Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  4. ^ "Vampire flying frog found in Vietnam". ABC News. 6 January 2011. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  5. ^ a b Ben Cubby (7 January 2011). "Frog's scary name is worse than its bite". The Age. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  6. ^ a b c Charles Choi (7 January 2011). ""Vampire Flying Frog" Found; Tadpoles Have Black Fangs". National Geographic. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  7. ^ Stephen Luntz (March 2011). "Flying Vampire Frog Alert". Australasian Science. Control Publications. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  8. ^ Aaron Smith (13 January 2011). "Vampire flying frog discovered". Australian Geographic. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  9. ^ a b Rowley, J.J.L.; Tran, D.T.A.; Le, D.T.T.; Hoang, H.D.; Altig, R. (2012). "The strangest tadpole: The oophagous, tree-hole dwelling tadpole of Rhacophorus vampyrus (Anura: Rhacophoridae) from Vietnam". Journal of Natural History. 46 (47–48): 2969–2978. doi:10.1080/00222933.2012.732622.
  10. ^ Anna B. Vassilieva; Eduard A. Galoyan & Nikolay A. Poyarkov Jr. (2013). "Rhacophorus vampyrus (Anura: Rhacophoridae) reproductive biology: A new type of oophagous tadpole in Asian treefrogs". Journal of Herpetology. 47 (4): 607–614. doi:10.1670/12-180.

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