Did you know some frogs and toads inflate with air to protect themselves? The champion of this strategy is the blunt-headed burrowing frog, which is often called the balloon frog. Why would this frog blow itself up into a balloon like this? Three reasons, really, and they all have to do with avoiding being eaten. First, by appearing larger when threatened, the frog has a better chance of scaring off predators (You know how they say to make yourself look bigger if you are ever confronted by a bear or mountain lion? Same concept for the frog). Second, because these frogs spend a lot of time in burrows, they can inflate to wedge themselves in tightly, making it difficult for a predator to pull them out. And third, becoming a big balloon makes it difficult or impossible for a predator, especially a snake, to swallow them.
Unfortunately, the blunt-headed burrowing frog is prized by humans as a tasty meal in its home range of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. People catch and eat so many of them that the frog species is now threatened. A popular Thai dish, these frogs are usually eaten barbecued. Yum.
- Blunt-headed burrowing frog - Rushen, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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