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Ever Heard of Food Flagging Frogs?


These tiny tadpoles are a huge sensation at Schönbrunn Zoo, the first zoo to have succeeded in the breeding these food flagging frogs native to Borneo. Congratulations come from Professor Walter Hödl of the University of Vienna, one of the most renowned international amphibian specialists, saying: “This is the first breeding program world-wide!”

Food flagging frogs owe their name to the fact that they communicate by waving to each other. This habit comes from their adapting to their natural surroundings, as they live by roaring streams and waterfalls. In order to attract their fellows’ attention, they not only call but they also wave their hind legs. By doing this, they spread the coloured webs between their toes to emphasise their signals.


3 tads

Photo Credit: Photo 1 and 3 Schönbrunn Zoo/Norbert Potensky, Photo 2: Doris Preininger

Since 2007, two types of food flagging frogs of the genus Staurois live in their own frog container behind the Rainforest House in Schönbrunn. This is a joint project between Schönbrunn Zoo, Vienna University and the University of Brunei Darussalam on Borneo.

In a number of special terrariums, Doris Preininger studies, in the course of her thesis, the behavior and especially the visual communication habits of the food flagging frogs. To ensure subsequent research, it was important to breed these animals, but not much is known about their reproduction habits. “We really had tried everything: rain, fog, different temperatures and every possible design of the terrariums, but all to no avail” says the Zoo’s director, Dagmar Schratter. All the greater was the joy about the now-successful breeding. “We have broken new ground and have made our way step by step until we finally found the road to take. The future of this exciting project now seems ensured.”