The botanical garden is home to many of these colorful little strawberry poison dart frogs, Oophaga pumilio. Unfortunately, they seem to prefer hanging about in the plastic planters. Above, you can see some of the little fertilizer beads. Below, one was just inside the container.
Although they were easy to spot amongst the plantings, I would have preferred a more natural setting.
As you might expect, the bright coloration is a warning to not touch these little frogs.
I thought this was perhaps an Eleutherodactylus species in the family Leptodactylidae. That determination was based mainly on the pads visible on the undersides of the hands and feet.
I asked Brian Kubicki for his opinion, and he said this is Craugastor polyptychus. That last link notes that this species was recently split from Eleutherodactylus bransfordii, so I guess was on the right track.
Looking around on the internet, it looks like the two species are separated by elevation, with this species occurring at lower elevations.
Unlike the drab poison dart frog I posted recently, this one lives up to my expectations of having bright warning colors.
Do you notice anything strange about this frog’s back? Take a closer look.
All Costa Rican dendrobatids lay their eggs on the forest floor. Parenting behaviors beyond that vary by species. One or both of the parents care for the eggs, keeping them moist until they hatch (sometimes by the male urinating on them). After hatching the tadpoles are carried by one or both of the parents, sometimes singly, sometimes en masse, to suitable sites to complete their development.
In this species, Dendrobates auratus, it’s usually the male that ferries the tadpoles, one at a time. He will seek out a small pool of water, in a tree hole or a bromeliad perhaps, to deposit the tadpole.
This frog was difficult to photograph. It just wouldn’t stay still. This is the only other shot that I didn’t end up deleting.
If like me you associate poison dart frogs with bright colors, then you might be as surprised as I was to learn that this rather drab frog is also a member of that family, Dendrobatidae.
Not surprisingly, this frog and other members of the genus Colostethus lack the skin toxins that some other members of the family have. No wonder they try to blend in, especially given their diurnal lifestyle.
Colostethus species also differ from other dendrobatids in their association with moving water instead of standing water. Their common name, rocket frogs, refers to their habit of quickly leaping into streams and then drifting away. This one was in fact next to a small stream, but obligingly stayed put.
Three species of Colostethus occur in Costa Rica. After consulting several sources, it’s unclear to me which one this might be. My best guess would be C. talamancae because of the lack of an oblique lateral stripe and the presence of dark bands on the hind legs. The two other possibilities are C. flotator and C. nubicola.
Stay tuned in the coming days for some pics of this frog’s more colorful family members.
I photographed quite a few frogs in Costa Rica, but I’m having a hard time identifying them.
My first thought for this attractive little one was that it might be a glass frog of some type (family Centrolenidae), because it appears to be somewhat transparent. Brian Kubicki of the Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center was nice enough to respond to an email and identify it instead as an immature tree frog (family Hylidae), Hypsiboas rufitelus.
Looking around for online photos (here’s one of Brian’s), it looks like they must lose that bold red dorsal coloring as they mature.
One of the common names I found is red-webbed treefrog, for red webbing between their fingers and toes.
Well, this challenge was certainly more difficult than I anticipated. Nonetheless, several people did find the frog in the image above. Below, I’ve outlined it.
Now that you know it’s there, I bet you can’t look at the image without it standing out.
Andrea J. went on to suggest it might be a Leptodactylid. I agree. Here’s a close crop from the photo above.
I picked up this book while in Costa Rica:
According to that book, all Costa Rican leptodactylids lack webbing between their fingers. In the crop above, I don’t see any webbing. There are only three genera in Costa Rica. One genus has only large species, and this one is small. Another has only a single species, easily dismissed because it has extremely warty skin.
So by deduction this must be an Eleutherodactylus species. There are 40 highly variable species in that genus that the book calls a “taxonomic nightmare”, so I won’t speculate further on the species. I might even be wrong about the family . See comments below… I was fooled by the size. Turns out it’s the first genus I dismissed based on size, and it’s just a baby.
Here’s one more look at this well camouflaged species.