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Rainforest Frogs in Costa Rica Tropic

A tropic world with really meaningful color

Poison Dart Frog. See pictures in Gallery. Red Eyed Tree Frog. See great pictures in Gallery.  The rainforest frogs of Costa Rica are known as symbols of the tropical rainforest; these deliverers of untiring nocturnal choir recitals are bizarrely multicolored (like the Red Eyed Tree Frog), and even some are poisonous (like the Strawberry Poison Dart Frog), but all have a very sensitive skin. Their world can surely lead to witness the extraordinary variations in colors, shapes and habits that a frog can have, besides life aspects and remarkable facts to learn about.

Great scientific interest to biology has created the poison dart frogs because of the discovery that they obtain the toxic chemicals they defend themselves with, from alkaloid-rich ants and other millimeter-sized tropical rainforest insects, which they have established an evolutionary relationship.

(En Español: Ranas de Costa Rica)

Costa Rican Rainforest Frogs

Poison Dart Frog Facts
Scientific Name: Oophaga pumilio
Habitat: Caribbean lowland tropical rainforest.
Length: Main body: 19-24 mm (0.75-1 pulg.).
Feeds on: Small ants, termites, mites and others small invertebrates.
Predators: Very few, the only known is the bullfrog.
Where to See it: At Arenal Eco Zoo, El Castillo, San Carlos (Arenal Volcano area); Maquenque EcoLodge, Laguna del Lagarto Lodge (Boca Tapada, San Carlos); Gavilán Lodge (Puerto Viejo, Sarapiquí); Golfo Dulce Lodge, Esquinas Lodge (Golfito, Puntarenas).
Features:

  • Very conspicuous coloration, as a warning for potential predators about its skin toxins (aposematic coloration).
  • Can live up to 5-6 years.
  • Most of its diet is from small ants, whose alkaloids are key components for its skin toxin.
  • Males are very territorial, and fight among themselves for its territories, which can be from 5 to 30 m².
  • The females left 3 or 4 eggs in the tropical rainforest soil, where the male fertilize and take care of them, ensuring their hydration with its own urine. After a week the tadpoles hatch.
  • Females take care of tadpoles bringing them up to bromeliad water storages and feeding them with sterile eggs.
* Because of the very sensitive frog skin, avoid contact or please keep in mind that you must have your skin hands very clean (no lotions, creams or repellents) in order to touch a frog without risk its life.

Strawberry Poison Dart Frog (Oophaga pumilio).
© 2010 (Derechos reservados) CostaRica21.com
Strawberry Poison Dart Frog (Oophaga pumilio).
© 2010 (Derechos reservados) CostaRica21.com
♀ Strawberry Poison Dart Frog (Oophaga pumilio) carrying out its tadpole and ready to rise it up to some bromeliad.
© 2010 Maquenque EcoLodge, Boca Tapada, San Carlos.
Another Strawberry Poison Dart Frog (Oophaga pumilio) near San Carlos River forest.
© 2010 Laguna del Lagarto Lodge. Boca Tapada, San Carlos.
Green & Black Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates auratus).
© 2010 (Derechos reservados) CostaRica21.com
Green & Black Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates auratus).
© 2010 (Derechos reservados) CostaRica21.com
A small Green & Black Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates auratus), just after metamorphosis from a tadpole, still into bromeliad water.
© 2010 (Derechos reservados) CostaRica21.com
The tadpole has completed its metamorphosis swimming into bromeliad water, and now is a poisonous frog (Dendrobates auratus).
© 2010 (Derechos reservados) CostaRica21.com
A small Green & Black Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates auratus), just after metamorphosis from a tadpole, still into bromeliad water.
© 2010 (Derechos reservados) CostaRica21.com
The tadpole has completed its metamorphosis swimming into bromeliad water, and now is a poisonous frog (Dendrobates auratus).
© 2010 (Derechos reservados) CostaRica21.com
Red Eyed Tree Frog in plenum activity (Agalychnis callidryas).
© 2010 Olger Aragón, Foto Koky, La Fortuna de San Carlos.
♂♀ Red Eyed Tree Frog (Agalychnis callidryas) couple in amplexus, or reproduction embracement.
© 2010 Víctor Hugo Quesada, Arenal Eco Zoo, El Castillo, San Carlos.
♂♀ Red Eyed Tree Frog (Agalychnis callidryas) couple in amplexus, ready to spawn.
© 2010 Víctor Hugo Quesada, Arenal Eco Zoo, El Castillo, San Carlos.
Red Eyed Tree Frog calling (Agalychnis callidryas).
© 2010 Víctor Hugo Quesada, Arenal Eco Zoo, El Castillo, San Carlos.
Red Eyed Tree Frog resting (Agalychnis callidryas).
© 2010 Víctor Hugo Quesada, Arenal Eco Zoo, El Castillo, San Carlos.
Red Eyed Tree Frog (Agalychnis callidryas) group sleeping on a leaf.
© 2010 Víctor Hugo Quesada, Arenal Eco Zoo, El Castillo, San Carlos.
♂ Emerald Glass Frog (Centrolenella prosoblepon) male, note the spur in the upper arm.
© 2010 Víctor Hugo Quesada, Arenal Eco Zoo, El Castillo, San Carlos.
♂ Emerald Glass Frog (Centrolenella prosoblepon) on a leaf, note its horizontally elliptical pupils.
© 2010 Víctor Hugo Quesada, Arenal Eco Zoo, El Castillo, San Carlos.
A Masked Tree Frog (Smilisca phaeota) resting in a plant.
© 2010 (Derechos reservados) CostaRica21.com
Masked Tree Frog (Smilisca phaeota) into the water.
© 2010 (Derechos reservados) CostaRica21.com
A pair of Masked Tree Frogs (Smilisca phaeota) in a pond.
© 2010 (Derechos reservados) CostaRica21.com
Granular Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates granuliferus), endemic of Costa Rica, inhabits lowlands from Manuel Antonio to Golfo Dulce.
Golfo Dulce Lodge (Golfito, Puntarenas)
Golfo Dulce Poison Dart Frog (Phillobates vittatus), endemic of Costa Rica, its habitat are Golfo Dulce lowlands, at South Pacific.
Golfo Dulce Lodge (Golfito, Puntarenas)
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Tropical Rainforest Frog of Costa Rica
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 Rain forest frogs of some families have evolved specialized body shapes to fit into the narrow spaces among the bromeliad leaves, which stores water at its bases and provides this way the ideal wet cradle for the eggs an then the tadpoles (the first stages of frog metamorphosis prior to adulthood); this is due to the fact that in some cases, the tadpoles are carried from ground ponds to bromeliad water tanks clinging on the frog back! Once there, they feed on sterile eggs which are regularly deposited by their mother. These cares are needed to avoid as much as possible the predatory effect (from fishes, damselflies nymphs and other aquatic insects) over the most inoffensive creature in the tropical rainforest: the frog tadpole. In the case of the poison dart frog (named after Amazon tribes using it to poison their hunting gun tips: arrows and blowpipe darts), evolution has created colorful patterns, as you can see with the color variations of the famous Strawberry Poison Dart Frog, called aposematic coloration. This play the function of being a very conspicuous warning signal of bad taste, or being a dangerous (even deadly) meal, in order to avoid this way to be devoured by the myriad of potential predators that share its habitat. Rain forest frogs feed mostly on insects and worms, catching them with their sticky, forked tongue, attached at the front of the lower jaw.

Poison Dart Frog

The Strawberry Poison Dart Frog or blue jeans poison dart frog, Oophaga pumilio (formerly Dendrobates pumilio, prior to a recent 2006 work), is a type of poison dart frog found in Central America, with a high concentration within Costa Rica tropical rainforest. As one of the best examples of aposematic coloration, the Strawberry Poison Dart Frog have conspicuous colors as a warning and indicative of toxins existence in its skin (giving the frog a bad taste) working as antipredator adaptation. The diurnal Strawberry Poison Dart Frog feeds mainly on ants, have very few predators thanks to its toxins, and can reach 5-6 years of age. These frogs and related ones are notable in the amphibian world for exhibiting a high degree of parental care, as mentioned above, indeed, their reproductive behavior is one of the most amazing and unbelievable among the tropical rainforest creatures.

Great scientific interest to biology has created the discovery that the Poison Dart Frogs obtain the toxic chemicals they defend themselves with, from alkaloid-rich ants and other tropical rainforest insects, which they have evolutionary relationship. Even scientists have recently found that some poison dart frogs not only absorb the alkaloids of ants, but even have the ability to modify them, creating more toxic variants. The fascinating ability of the poison dart frog to resist, store, and manipulate toxins, along with its related role in the rainforest food chain, are among the most important discoveries in the study of food chain evolution.

Red Eyed Tree Frog

Tree frogs are not poisonous (1) and also are characterized by large adhesive toepads, which enable them to climb on the smooth vegetation surfaces. One of their most known representative, the Red Eyed Tree Frog (Agalychnis callidryas) is a nocturnal arboreal frog native to the American rainforest. It have a size of about 7-8 cm (2.8 inches). Its ventral skin is white, soft and fragile, but its dorsal one is green, thicker and rougher. Its sides are purple or blue, with distinctive vertical white stripes and orange toes. And have big bulged red eyes with vertically narrowed pupils as in the eyes of cats. The Red Eyed Tree Frog feeds on moths, crickets, beetles and flies among other small arthropods; but can be eaten by birds, turtles, lizards, snakes, bats and another mammals as well. The Red Eyed Tree Frogs are not poisonous, so they rely on camouflage to protect themselves. As part of their behaviour, they remain motionless during the day, and cover their blue sides with their back legs, tucking their bright feet under their belly, and shutting their very conspicuous red eyes. In this way these frogs thus appear almost completely green, and well hidden among the leaves of the same color. Once at full activity, they recover all their astounding and bizarre coloring. The lifespan of the Red Eyed Tree Frog in its habitat is about three to five years.

♂ Emerald Glass Frog. See great pictures in Gallery.

Another kind of tree frogs are the "Glass Frogs", called in that way by their distinctive feature of a translucent belly, almost transparent, through which the intestines and other organs are visible. Besides, glass frogs have the upper surface with green color, they are tiny, have large eyes forward-directed, and adhesive disks in each finger and toe. As a representative example of this family of frogs, the Emerald Glass Frog (Centrolenella prosoblepon) must be mentioned, which have a distinctive spur located at the upper arm (in the "shoulder"). There exist thirteen species of glass frogs in Costa Rica.


Notes & References:
1
Indeed all frogs have skin toxins as adaptation, in enough amount, to avoid bacteria and fungus; but only in the so called "poisonous frogs" the level of these toxins is meaningful for another animals and potential predators.
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