The Malabar Gliding Frog ( Rhacophorus malabaricus) is a member of the Rhacophoridae, a family of the frog species which can be seen in tropical regions of Asia and Africa. The Malabar Gliding Frog is endemic to India.
It is an arboreal species inhabiting the tropical moist evergreen forest, deciduous forest, secondary (disturbed) forest and coffee plantations. One can find them in the lower canopy and understorey levels of the forest. Unlike other frogs, this frog builds its nest in the trees, under which there is a pool of water.
They usually quietly blend into the surroundings and don’t call attention to themselves during the day time, resting on the leaves with their legs gathered together and body flattened. Their forefeet are folded underneath their body, where they are well camouflaged making them almost invisible among the green leaves. But when predators like a tree snake approach them, these frogs have an amazing escape mechanism. They spread their limbs with their webbed feet and plummet down from the tree’s canopy, only to glide smoothly like a parachute in the air. The frog can make gliding jumps of 9–12 m, a maximum of about 115 times its length.
The webbing between fingers and toes – a spectacular orange-red complements the vivid green of its body makes this a beauty of an amphibian. This frog has a body length of about 10 cm (4 in), making it one of the largest moss frogs and males are smaller than females.
Normally, these gliding frogs become active in the night, their large eyes helping them to locate their prey, and stay motionless in the daytime. Monsoons are the season in which they are the most active, indicated by their racuous croaking.
There is a decline in population of the Malabar gliding frogs, mainly due to habitat loss. It is locally very common but these pockets of populations are now threatened by deforestation.