Catching Frogs in the Clouds
Spider Magazine for Kids|September 2020
PROFESSOR MARCIO PIE and his team stop on top of a mountain in Brazil. It’s cool and damp under the trees. The scientists listen.
Tracy Vonder Brink

The air fills with high-pitched chirps. But it’s not birds calling. It’s frogs! They are so noisy it sounds as if there could be hundreds of them. These frogs are why the team has climbed nearly eight hours to visit this cloud forest, a mountainous area where clouds hang low among the trees.

The scientists have come to study miniature frogs—some no bigger than a jellybean! These frogs need cool temperatures and moisture to live, so a damp cloud forest is the perfect place for them. Twenty-one kinds of cloud forest frogs have been discovered during other trips. Now the professor and his team hope to find even more.

The team walks toward the sound, but the amphibians go quiet and hide as soon as they feel footsteps coming near. To frogs, something moving on the forest floor might be a hungry snake. They can stay quiet and out of sight for up to an hour. Even if the professor and his team can’t see the frogs, they know where the amphibians are likely to be. Cloud forest frogs spend their day in the leaf litter, the fallen leaves that pile up on the forest floor. There they find bugs to eat, and their skin soaks up moisture from the wet leaves.

Now they burrow deeper into the leaves to hide. The scientists get down on their hands and knees and lift the muddy leaves one by one. Sometimes they can’t find a single frog, no matter how many leaves they check. Being a scientist can be frustrating!

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