IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

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The Nepal flying frog, Rhacophorus maximus, is a large, bright green tree frog with a characteristic white stripe along its flank.  It has complete webbing between its fingers and toes.  The adults are active for the period between dawn and dusk (Wildenhues et al. 2010).

One of about 88 species in the genus, R. maximus lives in lowland to sub-montane (500-2000 m asl), moist evergreen forests in northeast India, southern Xizang provinces and southern Yunnan provinces in China, northern Myanmar, western Thailand, northeastern (and perhaps the central highlands of) Vietnam, southern Laos and northern Bangledesh (Shunqing et al 2004; Frost 2016).  Shunqing et al. (2004) suggest that it occurs more broadly than this, especially in regions between sites of record.  

Nepal flying frogs live up in rainforest canopy and adults are rarely found.  During breeding season (6-8 weeks during March and April in northeast India) rains trigger explosive male aggregations at breeding sites to call and court females.  Males emerge first in the evening, and undergo competition and fighting for females.  Pairs mate on land and on water day and night.  During amplexus, males and females both contribute to building foam nests in a diversity of locations including nearby vegetation (although not on leaves), earthen river banks and rock surfaces about 2-30 cm above standing water, or on the water surface.  The foam nest is thought to counteract dessication.  Females oviposit in the nest after mating has occurred, and tadpoles hatch and drop into the water.  Tadpoles have an oval body, yellow-tan in coloring, with many grey-brown pigmented spots on the dorsal surface and white/transparent on the ventral surface.  The tail is darkest at the base.  Sub-adults have distinctive red toe and finger webbing and lower legs (Wildenhues et al. 2010; Khongwir et al. 2016).

Shunquing et al. (2004) indicate that this species is common, though little seen, as it lives in high canopy at all times unless it is breeding.  Wildenhues et al. (2010) indicate that R. maximus may represent more than one species across its range, on the basis larval and sub-adult differences, and suggest that more research including genetic characterization is required to address the differences between eastern and western populations. 

While listed as of least concern for extinction by the IUCN, the Nepal flying frog is believed to be in slow decline as a result of habitat decline in the form of logging, agriculture, and water pollution (Shunquing et al. 2004).


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© Dana Campbell

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