Frogs Make the Best Nannies: The Symbiotic Relationship Between Frogs and Tarantulas

A large spider protects a small frog.

Scientific American

A large spider protects a small frog.

Many people are aware of the awe-inspiring symbiotic relationships between different species. There are countless examples of this in nature such as the buffalo and the oxpecker in which the small bird feeds off and warns the buffalo of incoming danger, or the clownfish and the sea anemone where the clownfish gets protection while the anemone gets food scraps.

An unexpected pairing, however, is the tarantula and the frog. While many frogs are the prey of larger spiders, a unique relationship exists between the dotted humming frog and spiders in areas like Peru and India.

These frogs live in the spider’s burrow and protect the eggs of the tarantula. According to Darren Naish in Scientific American, a popular science magazine, scientists attribute the frogs not being eaten to their skin toxins, which is unpalatable to the tarantulas.

Interestingly, an unpublished report by Jolene Csakany found that tarantulas may be able to recognize their “partner” frogs by doing an experiment with replacing the skin of humming frogs on other frogs. The frogs make good roommates because they eat ants and their skin may also contain antimicrobial elements, which helps keep the spider eggs safe, according to Nerdist author Mellisa T. Miller.

To see this amazing feat in action, here is a YouTube video: