One of the largest frogs in the world, Mountain Chicken Frogs get their name from supposedly tasting like... well, chicken!
Native to the beautiful Caribbean Islands, and only specifically found on the islands of mountainous Montserrat and rainforest-filled Dominica (these islands might not be what comes to mind when thinking of the usual Caribbean tourist spots!), the Mountain Chicken is indeed not a breed of poultry but a very large frog -- one of the largest frogs on the planet actually.
Officially known as the Giant Ditch Frog (scientific name: Leptodactylus Fallax), the amphibian is commonly known as the Mountain Chicken Frog: a name given for the fact that locals say they, yes, taste like chicken. These water-loving amphibians were often hunted for food, and they were even once the national dish of Dominica.
Sadly, because of this and other factors such as habitat loss, natural disasters (like volcanic eruptions), and most critically, a dangerous fungal disease called Chytridiomycosis -- an infectious disease found in amphibian species and caused by Chytrid fungus -- the population of Mountain Chickens is rapidly declining, leading them to be critically endangered and on the brink of extinction.
About the Mountain Chicken Frog
This endangered frog is quite a unique one indeed! Considered one of the world's largest frogs, the Mountain Chicken Frog can grow up to 8 inches long and weigh up to 2 pounds as adults. Male frogs may be distinguished from female frogs by their smaller size.
Fun fact: these amphibians are what's known as foam nesters. During the breeding season, Mountain Chicken Frogs will build thick, foam nests where they lay their eggs; these nests also serve as the place where their tadpoles grow and develop.
Mountain Chickens have a huge appetite and will feed on almost anything they can get their froggy hands on: their diet includes insects, like crickets and millipedes, crustaceans, and even small vertebrates.
Conservation Efforts for the Mountain Chicken
Due to the severe population decline of this endangered species, conservationists have been introducing conservation efforts to revive this frog population, one such is captive breeding.
Listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, it became as apparent as ever for the need of conservation of Mountain Chickens after the volcanic eruptions of Soufrière Hills on the island of Montserrat. Since then, zoos like the Bristol Zoo Gardens as well as organizations like ZSL, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust have founded captive breeding programs in hopes of the reintroduction of Mountain Chicken Frogs' wild population.
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