Red-Eyed Tree Frogs
Last Updated: Feb 27, 2012
The humid rainforests of Costa Rica are home to the vibrantly colored red-eyed tree frog, also known as the red-eyed leaf frog or gaudy leaf frog. The body of this iconic amphibian is lime green with blue and yellow striped flanks and with white along the underbelly and inner legs.
Despite their striking coloration, red-eyed tree frogs are not poisonous. The most prominent physical characteristic of Agalychnis callidryas is their bright red eyes. This vivid eye color is a natural defense against potential predators known as startle coloration. If disturbed, the frogs open their large red eyes and expose their brilliant orange feet. Birds and snakes are often so startled by the sudden flashes of color that they hesitate momentarily, allowing valuable seconds for the frog to escape.
This species of frog is arboreal and rarely descends to the ground. Their feet are equipped with tiny suctions disks which enable them to move with ease along leaves and branches. Red-eyed tree frogs are excellent jumpers and climbers and are well-suited to their life above ground. Nocturnal carnivores, they camouflage themselves in the rainforest canopy and ambush insects, moths and occasionally smaller frogs using their long, sticky tongues.
Red-eyed tree frogs are found in the neotropical rainforests of southern Mexico, throughout Central America, and in northern South America. They are common all over Costa Rica and can be spotted in the lowland rainforests of Tortuguero National Park, along the Central Pacific Coast in Manuel Antonio National Park and in the cooler regions of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
Breeding occurs between May and June, during the beginning of the rainy season. Males chirp loudly in an effort to attract females, and mating eventually takes place under a leaf where the smaller male latches on to a female, fertilizing her clutch of 30-50 eggs.
In about a week, the tadpoles hatch and move about until they drop off into a puddle of water below, where they will mature into frogletts. The metamorphosis process can take up to 80 days. Once the frogs are completely developed, they take to land and spend the rest of their lives as tree-dwelling creatures. Red-eyed tree frogs typically live four to five years in the wild.
Status in the Wild:
Natural predators of the red-eyed tree frog include bats, spiders, birds, snakes, turtles and lizards. Agalychnis callidryasis not endangered in the wild. However, deforestation, global warming and contamination continue to shrink their habitat. Red-eyed tree frogs, like all amphibians, are commonly thought to suffer from environmental effects much earlier than other species. They are therefore considered an indicator species which alert humans to environmental changes worldwide.