Science 101: Spider that pets frogs as their own.

Chiasmocleis ventrimaculata is commonly known as the dotted humming frog. This species is found in the northeastern quadrant of South America ranging Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. It naturally occurs in subtropical or tropical humid lowland forest, swamp, and intermittent freshwater marsh habitations.

Chiasmocleis Ventrimaculata
Chiasmocleis Ventrimaculata is commonly known as the dotted humming frog

The large spider, a denizen of the same habitat, the burrowing tarantula Xenesthis immanis has over time developed an understanding, forging a mutualistic association with the aforesaid frog species.

The two dwell together in a coactive relationship with the arachnid providing the amphibian safe sanctuary from predators and also ensuring a reliable and consistent food supply channel via insects attracted to feed on the remains of its myriad preys.

The frog’s scrambling enables a safeguard of the tarantula’s eggs from foraging ants. This mutualism between microhylids and large spiders is common and is enacted by various species in many different parts of the world, lying in the Neotropics.

This family of frogs is perhaps inedible owing to its toxic skin secretions and is perhaps the reason responsible for the inculcation of this mutualism in the first place. This foster kinship is also reportedly observed in the tropical forests of India and Sri Lanka.

The odd couple: spider-frog mutualism in the tropical rain forests
The odd couple: spider-frog mutualism in the tropical rain forests

It does well to bear in mind that the spider of its stature can consume the rather minute frog, but foul tasting or even potentially lethal complications of toxin ingestion likely deter it.

Individual spider specimen, borderline maturing younglings, in particular, have been known to pick, inspect, probe and “taste” (examine) these frogs occasionally, before leaving them back, unscathed and unharmed. The spiders seem to possess an intrinsic or acquired sensory cue-based reservation against these frogs, and the relationship has played out extremely fluid and streamlined.

Perhaps humans can take a leaf out of their book of friendship, amity, and synergic cooperation, particularly when they seem so biologically remotely segregated, while we fight over petty, trivial contours as ethnicity and tenet-adherence.

Parth Shukla
A freelance writer with subtle experience in the domain and a go-getter attitude along with a high drive for entrepreneurial opportunities.

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