Black Throated Treefrog
|Black throated treefrog|
Bahijan treefrog, I can taste colors!
|Natural Habitat:||Forests and streams of Bahija|
|Average Size:||2-3" long|
|Coloring:||Virtually any color of the rainbow. Always has black spots and blue eyes|
|Distinguishing Features:||Black throat, spots. Vivid color, blue eyes, produces hallucinogenic toxins that cover skin, can produce strong neurotoxins when harassed|
The black throated treefrog has been a source of entertainment for young and teenage Bahijans alike for thousands of years. Some adults get a kick out of the hallucinogenic toxins, especially at parties, but find more use out of the more dangerous side of this frog: neurotoxins that destroy the nervous system. Frogs can produce either toxin at will and which is created depends on the animal's state of mind and well-being. Cultivated frogs, bred to be more docile and likely to not kill a user, are preferred over the wild ones, who are more likely to feel threatened by harassment, in recreational use. But when used to gather poison for hunting the wild frog is sought out.
All frogs are roughly the same size but vary in color depending on which island they originate from. Hybrids have been created and it can either muddle their coloration or turn them into as much of a trip as they can create. No matter the breeding the black markings remain. There is no sexual dimorphism to distinguish males from females aside from the females being slightly heavier. Their abdomens are rounded whereas the males have a narrow body.
Small, light, delicate and quick. They're like many other lightweight frogs in that they actively try to escape anything that can potentially injure them. Their poisons are a last line of defense and using it as a defense will likely result in their injury. They have no teeth to speak of, claws, and rely solely on their ability to jump long distances and bright colors to communicate that they aren't a food source.
Prey items include: maggots, small flies, beetles, caterpillars and any other insect that they can fit into their belly. They are not voracious eaters and only consume one or two insects a week. They are patient hunters and wait for a potential meal to enter their immediate area before pouncing it. Should the item be too large to finish in one gulp they use their eyes, squeezing them shut and forcing them inwards, and forelimbs to push the meal down.
All across the string of Bahijan islands. They fare well in the more forested areas but have also been able to survive in grasslands, that have sufficient water, and in clear streams. The only place they cannot exist is in places that have access to only saltwater. Like most amphibians they require freshwater for survival.
As the islands all vary slightly in flora and climate but the basic needs remain the same: freshwater, foliage to hide, live, and hunt in, and a moist place to deposit and rear their young in.
- Bahijan mainland: Blue. Found on the easternmost part of the island, where the forests are the thickest, they make their homes high up in the canopy. Females typically find and stake a claim on the largest bromeliad they can locate. The 'cup' formed by the leaves, growing in a tight ring with a hollow center, forms small pools of water. These are perfect for laying and raising young in. They're also reliable sources of water so are treasured by the frogs. Females will fight in a test of strength and shoving to protect their homes and allow males to visit only long enough to mate. The female takes great care of her brood. She chases off would-be attackers, other females looking to steal her roost, and brings them back tiny insects once their eggsac is spent. Should her bromeliad dry out she'll carry her young, one by one, to a new home if she's able to find one. Young frogs, once past the tadpole stage, leave to begin their own life and find a plant of their own.
- Ou'olokhau: Yellow. Native to the grasslands that cover this hilly island. They favor the many narrow streams that cross the land and often move from one region to another with ease. More tolerant to dry conditions, they can last up to two weeks without a proper soak, without drying out like the other varieties would. These keep no homes and are constantly on the move. They have slightly thicker skin, bumps like a toad, and feed on small insects, fish eggs and fry. Twice a year the island is alive with the sound of the treefrogs barking in the attempts to catch a potential mate's attention. The male latches onto a receptive female and they both claim a spot in the nearest stream. The male fertilizes her eggs as she lays them. Neither party makes any attempt to raise the young and may even eat the slower moving tadpoles should they meet again.
- Niikau: Red. These reside in higher elevations. They are much more rare than the other varieties because there is only one stream that runs diagonally across the island. Space is limited and there's also a species of flightless bird, the stiltwalker, that preys on them. As a result of this their neurotoxins are more potent than an average treefrog. This makes them prized by hunters, poison brewing individuals and people seeking to make antidotes to the treefrog's toxin. The red's low population has made the Niikau house bar the exportation of the frog with the only exception of the house merchant arranging the deal. Presumably only commercially farmed and raised frogs are being traded but that may not always be the case.
- Kaanii: Green. The island of Kaanii is an oddity and nearly flat. This is one of the younger islands and is still mainly rock. Layers of sediment and deposits from the sea, excrement from birds, and dead vegetation have altered the landscape so it's a dark grey in color. Curious depressions have formed in the ground over years that have been made deeper by the aquatic Bahijan penguins roosting in them and building up the sides with stacked rock. These pools of water, turned down by the birds in favor of fresh dry ones, are now the homes of the green variation of treefrog. They stay filled by frequent rainwater and are shared by many frogs and are a communal resource as there are quite a few more bodies than pools. They live and mate in ponds. Rearing fertilized eggs is also a group effort. One or two adults are present at all times and even hunt in rotation.
- Ahuwai: Five orange spots arranged in the pattern of a number dice (2, 1, 2 when viewed upright). Another species from the canopy but they reside on the limb of a tree most of their adult life. This is made possible by thick moss that covers their favored trees and their ability to squirm and wiggle their way into the moss, creating small hides, to live in. The spotted treefrog is a slow mover and only comes out when the rain falls and humidity is high or to feast on a bug unfortunate to walk close to their home. They seldom venture into the world and that's only when they're forced to by starvation or the urge to mate. Once a year they trill high-pitched songs through the treetops. It's an almost eerie thing to be present for as the noise slowly creeps towards the forest floor. When they reach the ground they set to work haphazardly depositing eggs and sperm into ponds before ascending the trees once more. Whether any eggs are fertilized depends on a particular frog's luck and whether or not a male visited the same pool in a reasonable amount of time. Young feed off their yolk and mature in the small ponds until it's time to leave. Before taking their roost up above they spend a couple of months hiding in the moss and leaf litter to build up their fat stores and take on the rotund appearance of their parents.
- Molokhoa: Yellow (dorsal) fading to green (ventral). The island of Molokhoa is similar to that of the Bahijan mainland. Aside of the shift of color, accounted by the vibrant blue flowers of the native Blue phase bromeliad, they don't differ significantly. Their stunning colors make them a favorite of merchants hobbyists alike that collect, and mate, the various color morphs in an attempt to create an all-new variety. It is suspected that they are actually a hybrid themselves. It is possible they are a mix of the Ou'olokhauean yellows and Kaanii greens. They even follow the green's tendency to share. Females are more docile than the Molokhoan variety and, as long as the bromeliad is large enough, share to the point of helping raise another's young.
- Kuranai: Orange. These do not exist in the wild and are solely the product of extensive breeding. No attempts have been made to introduce them to the island of Kuranai or any other in the Bahijan mainland. A strange byproduct of their unique orange coloration is that normal varieties have no interest in breeding with them. The only treefrog attracted to either sex of this species is the Kuranaian orange. It's possible to take the eggs of another color and place them in an artificial pond with a male of another color fertilizing other eggs but the outcome is always the same: muddied colors. Every attempt at creating another color fade or colored dots just ends up with disappointment. Reproduction is similar to the Ou'olokhau yellow. Their high rate of producing psychotropic makes them especially appealing to those who abuse it. They're a favorite of merchants thanks to the coin they rake in both from the unusual color and drug potential.
- Kala'keal: Blue (head) fading to red (rear). These hail from the rolling grasslands of Kala'keal, a larger island, and enjoy a good life near the riverbanks. Instead of living in the open as many other treefrogs do they take over the burrows of crested mice by force. When the mating season rolls around the female frogs sit and wait at the entrance of a mouse burrow. Upon the exit of the mouse, the frog goes in, and devours any young mice it may find. Should the mouse come back to find her brood gone and home taken up by a greedy frog, she will either fight to the death or dig a new burrow. Fights will often end with the mouse's demise thanks to the poisonous treefrog's slime coating. The frogs reside in these burrows until the rivers rise from the rainy season. They find mates, deposit their eggs in the water, and either return to their homes or find new ones in the case that a mouse has reclaimed it.
- Le Na Mokuli'i: Instead of the normal dorsal spots it has stripes. Body color is a shimmering mix of the typical colors. This variety once was kept by the Le Na Mokuli'i house in decorative glass cages. The trend caught on like wildfire and soon enough most people on the island had their own shimmering treefrog to bless their household with good luck. The rampant capture and hunting of their precious frog soon lead to a sharp decline in the population that they were not capable of recovering from. What specimens were not captured soon died off at the end of their natural lifespan. Soon the only shimmering treefrogs that were left resided in captivity. There was an attempt to reintroduce them to the wild but it was entirely unsuccessful. Breeding them is easy enough. Pair a male and female in a terrarium that's half land, covered in a mat of moss, and half water with a gravel lining. After a week or the female attaches a sac of eggs to the side of the glass. The parents' natural instinct to prey on anything the size of, or smaller, than their mouth means they have to be removed prior to the tadpoles' hatching. Tadpoles mature to tailless adults in roughly 3-4 months.
As mentioned above virtually all of the types of black throated treefrog vary and have evolved in their method to egg laying and rearing of young according to their surroundings. Some attract a mate by sound, some by dance. Others have a specific place to congregate and others wait for happenstance to bring a suitable mate to their territory. A few are good mothers and rear their offspring to adulthood and others simply cast their fertilized eggs to the waterways and hope for the best. The only constant is that eggs are laid, in clusters, and in a body of water. Tadpoles hatch and feed off their yolk sacs until they can hunt. Their tails disappear quickly as they begin to resemble their parents. Within a month or two they're ready to thrive in their native habitat.
The toxins make them invaluable and a hot source of trade. The relative lack of restriction makes their purchase and use minimally dangerous. A breeder is likely to have experience and a good reputation if they're to compete in the market. But should someone decide to cut corners and buy a specimen from some random person on the street the outcome can be less than desirable.
Shaman and medicine men also revere the treefrog for their uses both medicinal and spiritual. It is reported that if their psychotropic toxin is taken into the bloodstream it can slow bloodloss during what would normally be a mortal injury so attempt to save the victim's life can be preformed. The toxin is also a strong painkiller. In addition to that memories are often not formed correctly while an individual is under the influence, making surgeries easier, though the patient must be restrained to keep them from becoming active during a treatment. Only specially bred frogs from successful lines of breeders are used by professionals.
The neurotoxin is savage and, in even small quantities, causes severe damage. Any amount that enters the body through a cut or bite will go to work quickly. Paralysis sets in within minutes and tissue begins to suffer from necrosis as it's broken down. This is extremely painful for the victim. When death strikes it's more often from shock than actual damage. One might hope to get their dose straight to a vein or artery to make death quicker but no less excruciating.
When taken orally it numbs the tongue and throat within minutes. If the dose is small a victim can recover unless they suffer complications. Care should be taken when using this method for dental procedures like removal of a tooth. Only a small dab on the target area is sufficient and overuse puts the patient at risk of choking on their own tongue. The throat can swell rapidly if the target has any allergies to the treefrog's toxins.
It is reported that some dry out frog carcasses and crush them up. This concentrates what toxin was readily available in the body but doesn't differentiate one kind from another. It makes the process dangerous and is not practiced by any professional. Dried specimens of all colors are readily available in the market, both for this purpose, display, or to be used as offerings or at altars.