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As Bill Duellman, reknowned herpetologist, writes in the introduction to several of his books. The typical life history of frogs that lay eggs in ponds and then leave the eggs to fate is not really so typical. The majority of frog species live in the tropics and in wet environments, there are many benefits to laying eggs on land and either transporting the tadpoles or allowing them to drop in a suitable body of water which is small and predator free as the previous post explained. Dart frogs actually carry their tadpoles on their backs and haul them to suitable places to grow. Often these suitable places are those tiny cups of water you are wondering about. In the grand world of frogs. Dart frogs are not so strange afterall. It's those bullfrog that are weirdos.
 

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It gets much more fascinating than just toting tads around. You will here people talking about egg feeders. These frogs are difficult to breed but they take parental care to the ultimate in amphibians. After the tads are carried to water, the female visits the tads every few days and deposits an unfertilized egg which is almost the only food the tads are known to eat. Then there are the facultative egg feeders where the male places a tad and continues to court the ladies at the edge of a tadpole's little pool. If he is successful getting a female to lay an egg, the tadpole gets a nutrient rich meal. If the tadpole had died, the male cares for the egg and gets a new tadpole out of the deal.

As for witnessing this behavior in captivity. Yes, if the vivarium is set up right, they can do the whole show right in front of your eyes. In fact, the egg feeding behavior was discovered by observing frogs in vivaria. Any question why these guys are so addictive?
 

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Ed said:
I thought the ultimate parental care in anurans was by Nectophrynoides liberiensis and N. occidentalis in which the eggs are retained until they hatch and are then subsequently fed via oviductal secretions.

Obligate egg feeding does not look to be that rare and has evolved in a number of genera.

Ed
Hmm, we have a challenger and I see I slipped. Normally I say that obligate egg feeding is the most "complex" parental care known in amphibians. For complexity I would still give the egg feeders the nudge. But "ultimate" yep, that's open for another interpretation and the Nectophrynoides are probably at least a tie if not on top. You do keep people on their toes Ed.
 
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