COSTA RICAN FROGS & OTHER AMPHIBIANS
Costa Rica’s rainforests are famous for their amazing diversity of frogs and other amphibians and we saw countless individuals of a great many species on our travels. There were far too many to show here but I will share some of my favourites. Two groups of frogs I was very much hoping to see during the trip were the poison dart frogs & the leaf or tree frogs, having never seen either of these in the wild before, and Costa Rica most definitely did NOT disappoint!
The picture above was my very first sighting of a strawberry poison dart frog aka Oophaga pumilio, formerly known as Dendrobates pumilio. This was the poison dart frog species I had been most keen to see and this one’s secretive little glance out from underneath a log was a great start. Thankfully we were fortunate to see plenty of these little guys as the trip continued and many of them were a lot more easy to spot than this first one!
Poison dart frogs are animals which I have worked with as a volunteer at Bristol Zoo in the past but to see them in the wild was an enormous privilege. They use their bright, often garish, colouration to warn predators not to eat them because their skin is highly toxic and even large animals can be killed if they ingest the poisons secreted onto their skin. For this reason poison dart frogs are generally not nearly as secretive as other frog species and they could often be seen crawling around in the leaf litter, seemingly without a care in the world!
This particular species occurs in an amazing variety of colour and pattern forms and in the colour form above and below it is also often referred to as the blue jeans dart frog due to its four blue legs, giving it the appearance of a bright red frog wearing blue denim trousers!
It was fantastic to see so many of these little frogs and as you can see in these pictures they were sometimes extremely easy to spot, quite unlike some of the more camouflaged species of frogs we encountered. Keep reading below for more information and pictures of some of these!
The second species of poison dart frog we encountered was Dendrobates auratus, sometimes known simply as the green & black poison dart frog. As you can see from the pictures below it is a fairly descriptive common name!!
Although this species is always a mixture of green and black the shade of green and the ratio of green to black colouration varies depending on where in the country they are found. Those on Costa Rica’s Caribbean slope tend to be mostly pastel green whereas those on the Pacific coast tend to be more of a metallic green colour and show more black colouration. As well as this difference every individual has a unique pattern a bit like a fingerprint as you can see from these pictures. The one below was my personal favourite of all the ones we saw, I don’t really know why though!
As well as the poison dart frogs I was really hoping to see possibly one of the most recognisable frogs found in Costa Rica, and indeed the world, the red-eyed leaf frog or red-eyed tree frog aka Agalychnis callidryas. We certainly weren’t disappointed because as early as day 2, whilst staying at Maquenque Eco-Lodge, we found this beautiful individual during our night walk:
This species is almost indescribably beautiful in the flesh with its intense green body colour, fire-red eyes and the most exquisite yellow and blue markings down its sides. An absolutely amazing species and one which we did in fact encounter many times, always at night and always on low foliage in close proximity to water.
Another closely-related species we encountered, this time only once at Luna Lodge on the Osa Peninsula, was the dark-eyed leaf frog aka Agalychnis spurrelli. This species has even more intensely red eyes than the red-eyed leaf frog and took a shine to myself and the rest of our night walk party. jumping from leaf to face at every opportunity!
For pictures of even more amazing Costa Rican amphibian species please click HERE!