The lemur leaf frog is mainly nocturnal, spending its resting hours curled up on leaves, perfectly camouflaged. At nightfall, its bright green colouration darkens to brown and the lemur leaf frog becomes active (4). An arboreal species, the lemur leaf frog walks around low vegetation in a deliberate, hand-over-hand manner (5).
The diet of the lemur leaf frog in the wild is not known, but is assumed to consist primarily of small invertebrates (6).
Breeding reportedly takes place during the rainy season, and the male lemur leaf frog produces a short clicking call to advertise to females (5). Like all leaf frogs, the lemur leaf frog lays between 15 and 30 eggs on leaves overhanging water. However, while many leaf frogs then wrap the leaf around the cluster of eggs, the lemur leaf frog does not (7).
About a week after the eggs have been a laid, the tadpoles hatch and drop into the water below (4). It then takes a further 90 to 150 days for the tadpole to develop into the adult frog (6). The higher the temperature of the water, the more rapid the growth and development of the tadpole will be (4).
Unusually for a frog, this diminutive species is able to bask in sunlight for prolonged periods of time without drying out. It is thought this is due to a specific pigment in the frog's skin, ‘pterorhodin’, which reflects the heat off its surface. This enables the frog to stay cool while its skin stays hot. Not only is this useful for an animal that spends most of the sunny hours lying inactive on the underside of a leaf, but it may also play a role in helping to defend this frog against chytridiomycosis, a fungal disease devastating amphibian populations worldwide (4) (8).
Chytridiomycosis is caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which infects the delicate skin of amphibians, thus interfering with their breathing and natural defences. It has been found previously that the chytrid fungus is much less infectious at higher temperatures (9). Other studies have also suggested that specific compounds found in the frog's skin as part of its normal defences may contribute to this species' relative resistance to infection by this killer fungus (10).