lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

Z is for Zetek’s Treefrog


This brilliant photo of this little treefrog was taken by Dr Robert Puschendorf, Lecturer in Conservation Biology at Plymouth University, and is used by permission.

Here it is again, peeking out from a bromeliad, so you can see where it lives – this gorgeous photo was taken by Andreas Hertz and is also used by permission:


These are the only images I could find of this little frog, so I’m very grateful to both these scientists for allowing me to use their photos.

It is a small (less than 3cm) Zetek’s treefrog that lives in Costa Rica and western Panama, at 1,200-1,800m above sea level, in cloud forests.

To be more specific, they live in bromeliads, in the water the cup-like leaves hold, and bromeliads grow high on trees – bromeliads are not a parasite on the tree, they gain all their nutrients and water from the atmosphere.

Zetek’s frogs lay their eggs above the waterline of the bromeliad’s interior, and when ready the tadpoles fall into the water – uniquely, the tadpoles are flattened and shaped like a guitar when seen from above.

Their tadpoles, that have been dissected, had eggs in their stomach – so it is possible that in common with other frogs that live in bromeliads (where unlike in a stream, there is nothing for the tadpoles to live upon), the mother revisits the pools and lays unfertilised eggs in the water for the tadpoles to eat.

Because they live so high in the trees, they were only discovered by tracing the male’s unique mating call – 5 pulsed notes that last about 4 seconds.

In Costa Rica their population appears to be stable, but it is thought they are suffering from habitat loss in Panama.

All treefrogs are at risk from the chytrid (Chytridiomycosis) fungus. The fungus is capable of causing sporadic deaths in some amphibian populations and 100% mortality in others. No effective measure is known for control of the disease in wild populations. It has been called “the worst infectious disease ever recorded among vertebrates in terms of the number of species impacted, and it’s propensity to drive them to extinction.” (Gascon et al, 2007).

This disease is thought to have originated in frogs caught in Africa, where it has been known for a long time, that were caught for pets or used for pregnancy testing in laboratories, that may have escaped or been moved to new locations, so it is now threatening populations in areas which have little immunity.

Dr Andreas Hertz, who took the second photo above, works at a laboratory that is looking for a way to advance probiotic strategies to mitigate the effects of chytridiomycosis in wild amphibian populations. (I’m pretty certain this means using microorganisms to help kill off the fungus or strengthen the immune response in the frogs).

Treefrogs are particularly at risk from deforestation, and sometimes species are only discovered when their trees are cut down.

Zetek’s treefrog is classified Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List for Threatened Species.

How our needs subsume those of every other species on the planet!

Here is my very last poem for the 2016 A-Z:




Just one tall tree

among the trees,

a scoop of water

furled in leaves,


an ant or two

on which to feed,

is all the world

a treefrog needs,


just one small part

of forest’s song –

but when trees fall

and all are gone,


rains turn flood,

earth turns stones,

and in the dust

a treefrog’s bones.


© Liz Brownlee


Information from:


Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

IUCN Red List for Threatened Species.

Gascon C., J.P. Collins, R.D. Moore et al., editors: Amphibian Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge UK, 2007.





  1. Congrats on finishing the challenge Liz, your posts have been very interesting and informative (I’ve learned something new every day) and your poems are lovely – well done 🙂


    • Thank you, Eunice! Congratulations to you, too! Edit to say, I cannot find your blog, it always comes up with a 404 error message, can you post the address for me?


  2. Thank you for another beautiful, fascinating, challenging, and well-crafted post. Your blog has been, by far, one of my highlights of the A to Z Challenge.

    Al x


  3. This last post of your was very informative because I wasn’t sure how the frogs were dying and you gave more info on this. This frog is so cute and so tiny. Your last poem just…is perfect.


    • Hello Birgit, thank you, and thank you for visiting every single one of my animals! x


  4. greyzoned/angelsbark

    Well, we did it! We’ve finished the challenge. I’ve really enjoyed being introduced to all these amazing animals and have truly enjoyed your poems! I follow you so will be getting emails when you post. Take some time off and get some sleep now!
    All the best,
    Michele at Angels Bark


    • Hi Michele, thank you so much, I have no time to have time off, I’ve been busy writing for two other books this month as well, I did all the posts in the first week! But I work best under pressure. Thank you so much for your visits!


  5. A poignant close to your April A to Z. Thank you for sharing your notes and poems – really enjoyed them. x


    • Thank you, Celia, it’s always so lovely to see you here in another life as it were, looking forward to seeing you in real life soon!xx


  6. julieweathers2014

    Congratulations! I love frogs. Now I’m going to have to go through all the posts. I’m sorry I didn’t find you sooner. What a lovely post and poem. Well done.


    • Hello, Julie, thank you! Congratulations on getting to the end!


  7. I came to know lot of beings which i was unaware of and facts on them :). Thank you for those.
    The poem to finish of all the post were excellent 🙂
    Congratulations on the finish 🙂


    • Congratulations to you as well, Aneesh, thank you so much for reading my blog!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I see that you caught a lot amny frogs this month :p
    your poem reminded me of ‘the Frog and the nightiangle’ poem by Vikram seth.


  9. Let’s hope our great grandchildren will still hear their call and we won’t find their bones in the dust! I so hope mankind will catch a wakeup!! We need those little frogs. Imagine if you had to scratch around and use material showing extinct animals to complete the challenge!!

    I discovered your posts late but in the next few weeks I’ll be catching up! I really enjoy the way you’ve gone about the challenge. Thanks and congrats on getting to Z unscathed!! 😉


    • Thank you! I really hope that many things are still here for our grandchildren.


  10. A great end to a fascinating serious. Thanks for an entertaing and informative journey.

    My final A-Z story features 13 neglected Z words

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Fran Clark

    Fancy one of those landing on your lap out of the blue!
    Great job on getting to the end of the challenge 🙂
    Writing Women’s Fiction


  12. What a lovely poem to honor such a unique creature! I especially liked the furled leaves phrase. Happy A to Z!


    • Hello, and thank you! Can’t believe it’s all over!


  13. Ah, you finished with a frog – how apt! And what a sweet little frog to accompany another wonderful poem! Well done for finishing the challenge – and thank you for supporting my journey too!

    Susan A Eames from
    Travel, Fiction and Photos


    • Hello, Susan! Thank you and thanks for travelling with me, too! It’s been fun. There’s a reason why i’m a frog in another life!


  14. Congratulations on a great A to Z!
    They say as the bees go so do the humans, it may be the same for the frogs too. We are killing ourselves with each species we delete! I find it hard to believe that forests are still disappearing, even with all we now know. Stupid humans!
    Happy May!


    • Yes – bees and butterflies produce all our food, imagine going down every food crop with a paintbrush to transfer pollen, it would make food enormously expensive. It defies belief that we are killing bees just to get more crops out of each field, totally counter-productive and terribly dangerous! Do campaign against Roundup!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you for a wonderfully entertaining A2Z this year. They always are, of course 😉


  16. Excellent Z, Liz. Loved the poem.


  17. Wish I had found your blog earlier, but congratulations on finishing the challenge. I’ll come back to haunt your beautiful animals and poems someday. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Thea O'Brian

    My gosh that frog looks like a statue to me!
    Great A-Z Challenge Liz!


  19. I LOVE IT!!! Such a good poem! I love that it hit on the extinction of all of these frogs as well. Hopefully all of these animals you showcased will be around for many more years to come. Congrats on finishing! Phew!


    • Hello dear frog lady, I’m so pleased you like it! It has given me lots of poems to work on and been great fun, greatly enjoyed your blog, too of course.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Interesting post. Tree frogs are fascinating.

    Weekends in Maine


  21. Such a sweet little frog! May they live long and prosper. Thanks for visiting my blog and congratulations on finishing the challenge. Now it’s time to relax and celebrate!


    • Hello, Bish, thank you and congratulations to you, too!


  22. blkbtslonglegs

    The little frog looks like it’s smiling! I had no idea that frogs would live that high up in a tree, or that they would eat unfertilized eggs. But you captured them so perfectly in your poem! I have gone back a few letters and see that I will have to spend some more time going even further back to read more of your writing 🙂

    Thank you for stopping by Black Boots, Long Legs earlier 🙂



    • Hello, Tracy, thank you! Treefrogs do live up in trees and they have suckers on their toes so they can perch more safely – some can actually fly from tree to tree as their webs are so large they spread them out, and can glide up to 50 feet.


  23. What a gorgeous – and miniscule – little frog! So many jewels of nature are on the verge of disappearing forever. It makes me sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Believe it or not, I first found out what bromeliads are from a Terry Pratchett bok called Wings. Those little frogs are wonderful.


  25. I enjoyed your posts this month.


  26. A. Catherine Noon

    Lovely poem, and congratulations on finishing the challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Wow…so colorful!!! Sorry I’m just now getting over to you. I’m reading the blogs of everyone who visited me toward the end of the challenge and I got a little behind this week on that!



Please comment here! Thank you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: