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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







File-eared Tree Frog

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3

Fig 4

Fig 5


Species : Polypedates otilophus
Size (snout to vent) : Female 10 cm, Male 8 cm

Also known as the Borneo Eared Frog, this large tree frog inhabits lowland rainforest up to elevations of around 400 metres. It is most commonly found grouped around suitable breeding ponds, clinging to nearby vegetation a few metres from the ground.

The species is easily identified by its large size and by the prominent ridges which lie above the eye and external ear-drum or tympanum. Another flap of skin extends horizontally beneath the tympanum.

Its dorsal surface is pale yellow brown adorned with dark brown stripes. The flanks show similar colour and patterning but the dark stripes are more thin. On the inner thighs and legs there is strong black banding on a white background. Its eyes are large with a horizontal iris.

Like other species of tree frog, their eggs are fertilized and develop in foam nests above suitable water bodies. The tadpoles will hatch and drop into the water below, or get washed down by heavy rain. Fully-grown tadpoles may reach 6 cm in length.

Polypedates otilophus occurs only on the island Borneo. A closely related species, Polypedates pseudotilophus, occurs on the island of Sumatra (Matsui et al, 2014): the latter was formerly identified as part of Polypedates otilophus, but has sufficient genetic divergence to be considered a separate species.

Fig 1 : Example from Lambir Hills, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo.

Fig 2 : Dark specimen with well-developed dorsal stripes.

Fig 3 : Pale specimen clinging to a thick stem.

Fig 4 : Close-up of the head showing the 'file' ears.

Fig 5 : Dorsal view, showing lower ear flaps, and expanded toes.

Figs 2 to 5 photographed at Danum Valley, Sabah, Borneo,

References : H3, H4

Matsui, M., Hamidy, A., & Kuraishi, N. (2014). A new species of Polypedates from Sumatra, Indonesia (Amphibia: anura). Species Diversity, 19(1), 1-7.