Giant waxy frogs come to Newquay Zoo

Giant waxy monkey frogs have arrived at Newquay Zoo – and they’ve brought their own sun cream.

The giant waxy monkey frogs, all male and yet to be named, travelled from Sparsholt to their new home at the Zoo. This species originates in Paraguay, South America and is used to living in trees. Whilst most amphibians are nocturnal and avoid direct sunlight, this incredible species creates a substance called wax. Formed in the glands behind their eyes, it’s applied to their bodies every morning, reducing water loss and allowing them to spend the majority of their time in the sun. 

Another unique quality of the species is its opposable thumbs, which allow the frog to move and to grasp objects, climbing and walking like a monkey instead of hopping like a frog. This quality is how Phyllomedusa bicolor earnt its common name of giant waxy monkey frog.

Their main threats in the wild include deforestation and collection for medicinal use. The wax, the very substance that protects them from the sun, could be their downfall; researchers are looking into how some of the ingredients of the wax might be used in the battle against cancer and other life changing illnesses. 

Despite having an IUCN ranking of Least Concern at the moment, this increased interest in the species means that developing the breed in captivity has never been more important. Currently having three males in the collection, the Zoo is looking into obtaining a female in the not too distant future, with hopes of breeding the species; a task that has not yet been successful in captivity anywhere in Europe. 

Senior Keeper Gareth O’Dare commented: “We are really excited to have this species as a new addition to the collection and we hope that we will be able to breed the species whilst they are here at the Zoo, once we have located a female. I believe that our reptile and amphibian department are up to the challenge and are confident that we will be successful.”

The trio are currently being kept off show whilst Gareth and his team rearrange the collection as the species needs a lot of space to be comfortable. Keep an eye on the Zoo’s Facebook page to find out when they go on show to the public. 


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