- CLASS: Amphibia (Amphibians)
- ORDER: Anura
- FAMILY: Ranidae
- GENUS: Conraua
- SPECIES: goliath
Goliath means REALLY BIG! We're not kidding—the goliath frog is the largest frog in the world. It grows up to 12.5 inches (32 centimeters) long and can weigh up to 7.2 pounds (3.3 kilograms). The goliath frog is as big as some house cats!
It doesn't start out so big, though. The goliath frog tadpole is the same size as the tadpole of an average frog, but just keeps growing. The adult looks a lot like other frogs as well, just a whole lot bigger.
Although these giant frogs have been around longer than humans, we still have a lot to learn about them. For example, how many years do they live? Is there more than one species of goliath frog? Scientists are studying these creatures in the wild and learning new things about them. They hope that what they learn will help us find answers, so this amazing frog will be safe from extinction.
HABITAT AND DIET
Goliath frogs live in small ranges in the rain forests at the equator of western Africa, near swift-moving rivers and waterfalls. These giant amphibians need to be near water much like the average frog.
Goliath frogs come out at night and sit on river rocks to look for food. An adult goliath frog eats the same types of food that other frogs do: insects, crustaceans, fish, and other amphibians. But one researcher found a bat in the stomach of a goliath frog!
Not-so-parental instincts: When goliath frogs reach maturity and have babies, they do things a little differently from most frogs. The male builds a nest of rocks and gravel near a riverbank, and wrestles with other males to breed with females. The wrestling and rock moving may be why males are larger than females: this is unusual for frogs. Then the female lays thousands of eggs in the nest. That is where the parenting stops: they don’t even wait around to ensure the eggs hatch.
Tadpoles must fend for themselves and find their own food. Goliath frog tadpoles are picky eaters and only eat a certain plant found near waterfalls and the banks of swift rivers. This could explain why this frog species is only found in one tiny location on Earth!
AT THE ZOO
The San Diego Zoo does not have any goliath frogs in its collection.
Goliath frogs have been around for about 250 million years! They are one of only a few amphibians still alive that lived on Earth before the dinosaurs. But if the goliath frog has been around for millions of years, why are they endangered now? A lot has changed for the goliath frog over the years.
Major contributors to their decline are, unfortunately, humans. Many people enjoy eating frogs, and a goliath frog makes a big meal. Even though it is now against the law to hunt the goliath frog, poachers still do so to sell the delicious meat. Many goliath frogs are exported to the United States each year for frog-jumping contests!
The large frogs are also losing their forest habitat to farming, logging, and human settlements. These activities are adding extra soil to the frogs' breeding streams. Researchers find that the adult frogs weigh less than expected these days. There is also concern that all the large adults are being hunted, leaving only "teenagers." If this is so, soon there may not be any adult goliath frogs to reproduce.
You can help us bring frog species back from the brink by supporting the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy. Together we can save and protect wildlife around the globe.