- Display Collection Amphibians
- Display Collection Reptiles
- Off-Display Amphibians
- Species Profiles
The Museum is active in conservation, by raising public awareness about sustainability and global responsibility and by actively participating in international captive breeding programmes for endangered species. This living collection is used as an important educational resource and is very popular with the many children who visit the Museum. We hope that early contact with reptiles and amphibians will influence their attitudes to animals, and that this will inspire a commitment to conservation and habitat protection as they grow up.
Conservation: Research/Phyllomedusine frogs/Costa Rica
Behind the scenes, the Vivarium is particularly notable for its large collection of phyllomedusine tree frogs, and is probably the largest and most important collection of Costa Rican frogs in the world. Many of the frogs maintained are of key importance to captive breeding programmes that have been established to help save a number of species on the very brink of extinction. Andrew Gray, The Curator of Herpetology, and his assistant Adam Bland specialize in these unusual neo-tropical frogs. Their work, which combines field studies with captive observations, focuses mainly on investigating new aspects of their natural history and ecology. All the studies conducted are completely non-invasive and is aimed at gaining a fuller understanding of the species concerned, so that the knowledge can be used to help conserve them.
Every year we destroy thousands of acres of rainforest for planting crops, providing animal feed, for wood to build houses, make paper, or provide charcoal for fuel. The rate of clearance is increasing, and in the 20th century alone, nearly half the world’s rainforests vanished. If the destruction continues at this rate there may be no rainforests left by 2040. However, this is not inevitable. As our understanding increases conservation groups, individuals and governments are finding more effective ways to work together to protect rainforests from further destruction.
Deforestation in Brazil
Every year more rainforest is destroyed in Brazil, South America, than anywhere else in the world. Rainforests have decreased in size primarily due to deforestation and the Amazon rainforest is now 90% smaller than it originally was. Despite reductions in the rate of deforestation in Brazil the last ten years it is continuing at an alarming rate - the Amazon Rainforest will be reduced by a further 40% by 2030 if the current rate continues.
Deforestation in Madagascar
Due to Humans, Madagascar has lost more than 90% of its original rainforest. One major cause of the deforestation has been burning the forest so as to clear areas for growing coffee, logging areas for wood, and also creating areas suitable for mining. Largely due to deforestation, Madagascar is currently unable to provide adequate food, fresh water and sanitation for its fast growing population.
Deforestation in Costa Rica:
Costa Rica had one of the highest rates of deforestation during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Forest cover dropped to just 21% by 1987, compared to it 75% cover 50 years earlier. At that point, the government, backed by the people, launched a sweeping new policy to save the remaining forest and new planting encouraged. Today, forest cover has increased to 51% . With the right incentives deforestation can not only be halted but reversed.
Display Collection Amphibians
Strawberry Poison-dart Frog, Oophaga pumilio,
Description: These small poison-dart frogs reach their adult size at 20mm long. Unlike many other species of amphibian, they are active during the day. They are easily seen due to their bright coloration, which acts as a warning to predators that they are poisonous if eaten. Although commonly referred to as the ‘Strawberry Poison-dart Frog’, this species varies greatly in colour throughout its range; frogs from differing localities may be red, green, blue, yellow or a combination of these colours and with varying patterns.
Reproduction: Males call throughout the day to declare their territories and to also attract females. Once a female has chosen a male, she will produce a small clutch of 4-6 eggs on a leaf or on the ground, which are then fertilized. The male guards the eggs until they are ready to hatch; upon hatching he transports the tadpoles on his back to the water-filled centres of a bromeliad plant growing within his territory. Here he deposits the tadpoles and then cares for them by attracting the female back to lay infertile eggs within the bromeliad. The tadpoles feed on the infertile ‘food’ eggs and will eat nothing else. This is where this frog species gets its Latin name from, ‘Oophaga’ meaning ‘Egg Eater’, which directly refers to the tadpole’s specialised diet.
Diet: These frogs feed on small invertebrates amongst leaf-litter on the forest floor. Distribution: Central America; Costa Rica and Panama, including the Panamanian Islands of Bocas Del Toro.
Conservation Status: Endangered
Phantasmal Poison-dart Frog, Epipidobates tricolor,
Description: This small species of poison-dart frog attains a total size of 22mm in length. Males have a loud trill like call that they use throughout the day to attract females and also defend their territory. They are inhabitants of lowland tropical forests and occur in small, localized areas in Ecuador. The species has skin secretions with amazing medicinal properties. A new drug called ‘Epibatadine’ has been developed from a chemical in the secretion that has pain killing properties 200 stronger than morphine and which is also non-addictive.
Reproduction: After a male has attracted a female, she spawns amongst the leaf litter on the ground or on the leaves of ground-dwelling plants. The species is capable of laying much more eggs than other species of poison dart frog, and clutches may number up to 10 eggs or more. The male guards the eggs as they develop and upon hatching the tadpoles carefully wriggle onto his back, using their sucker like mouths to hold on. He then transports the tadpoles to a suitable pool within his territory where he deposits them. The tadpoles will feed on a wide variety of food as they develop in the water. Diet: Small invertebrates. Distribution: Ecuador. Conservation Status: Endangered.
Bumblebee Poison-dart Frog, Dendrobates leucomelas
Description: This poison dart frog gets its name from the striking black and yellow coloration of its skin, which it uses to warn predators that it is poisonous if eaten. The frogs reach a size of 38mm in length. They are active during the day, spending time foraging for small insects to eat. Males also call during the day to defend their territory and attract females. The differing colour and patterning of the frogs in this species depends on the area they occur in the wild.
Reproduction: Females lay between 2 and 12 eggs in leaf litter on the ground. The eggs are then guarded and protected by the male that has fertilised them. When the tadpoles hatch the male carries them on his back and deposits them within small pools of water to continue their development. The tadpoles will feed on almost anything within these pools and emerge as little miniatures of the parents, already showing the bright colouration straight from metamorphosis.
Diet: Small invertebrates. Distribution: South America; East Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana and Northern Brazil. Conservation Status: Least concern.
Golden Poison-dart Frog, Phyllobates terribilis
Description: Reaching an adult size of 37 - 41mm, this is a large poison dart frog. it is the most toxic species of amphibian in the world. The toxins in the skin are attained through chemical changes, with the frogs acquiring the necessary compounds through their wild diet; captive specimens are barely toxic at all as they receive different diet. The colour of frogs in this species varies upon which population they are from, with many specimens being a bright golden colour whereas others may even be white. This is the species that indigenous people of Colombia use to tip their hunting darts. The frogs are so toxic that that is all that is required to extract the poison from the skin and produce a deadly dart is for them to simply roll the tip of the dart on the frog’s back. Reproduction: Females deposit 10 – 15 eggs on the ground among leaf litter, once developed and ready to hatch they are carried to pools on the back of the male. The male is capable of carrying multiple tadpoles at one time. The tadpoles feed and develop within these pools until they metamorphose. Despite the extreme level of toxicity in the adult frogs, the tadpoles are non-toxic and the young frogs begin to develop small quantities of these toxins within the skin once they have been out of the water for only a few weeks. Diet: Small invertebrates. Distribution: Colombia. Conservation Status: Endangered.
Trinidadian Monkey Frog, Phyllomedusa trinitatis
Description: This is the only species of Monkey frog to occur the island of Trinidad. It is a fairly large tree frog, with females reaching an adult size of 100mm and males being somewhat smaller. They are nocturnal and sleep during the day in a perched position on branches. They have the ability to cover their skin with a waxy substance, which allows them to sit in direct sunlight for long periods of time. The species occurs at both low and higher elevations, with specimens having been recorded between 100 – 1300m asl. This species is considered to be highly adaptable and can tolerate minor disturbance of its habitat.
Reproduction: These monkey frogs lay their eggs in a nest made by the folding of a single leaf or the joining of two leaves that hang over a pool of water. As many as 100 eggs may be produced in a single spawning and these are sealed within the leaf nest. These ‘leaf nests’ protect the eggs from predators and also from drying out in direct sunlight. The tadpoles take between 10 – 14 days to develop, and when it is time for the eggs to hatch they rupture and the tadpoles fall from the nest into the water below. The tadpoles are generalist and feed on a wide variety of things present in the water. Metamorphosis takes up to 2 - 3 months after the tadpoles have hatched, and the exact length of time in which this takes place is dependent on the water temperature. The young frogs lack the poison glands seen in the adults; until these are developed they possess bright orange markings on the thighs and flanks used as an alternative method of defence.
Diet: Small invertebrates. Distribution: The islands of Trinidad and the Northern coast of Venezuela. Conservation Status: Least Concern.
Golden Mantella, Mantella aurantiaca
Description: These tiny amphibians only reach an adult size of 24mm. They are mildly toxic and show this by using the bright colouration of the skin. They are active during the day and have few if any predators, much like the poison dart frogs of Central and South America. They live in humid forests in swampy areas, remaining at ground level. The frogs like to congregate in sunlit areas of the shady rainforest, which helps them to thermo-regulate. Males can be observed calling from these areas during the day. Although having few predators, they have many threats to their survival and are one of Madagascar’s most threatened species of amphibian: they are collected for the international pet trade, their forests are under threat from pollution and deforestation, and there is also mining companies excavating within the only forests in which they occur. Reproduction: For such a tiny frog they are capable of laying a surprising amount of eggs, with a female producing up to 60 small white eggs within a single clutch. The eggs are laid on the ground next to small pools of water and when the tadpoles are ready to hatch they are washed into the pools by heavy rain. Their development as tadpoles lasts up to 70 days at which point the newly metamorphosed tiny froglets measure only 11mm. They do not possess the bright colour of the skin as shown in the adults, but are brown and develop the bright orange colouration as they grow. Diet: Small invertebrates. Distribution: Central-Eastern forests of Madagascar. Conservation status: Critically Endangered.
Oriental Fire-bellied Toad, Bombina orientalis
Description: This small toad species reaches an adult size of 50mm. The dorsal surface of the skin is bright green and black with raised tubercles. These tubercles are poison glands contained underneath the skin and if disturbed the toads can exude a mildly toxic secretion. Their primary way of defending themselves is to show their bright orange feet and belly, from which they get their common name. If approached by a predator the toads lift up the head and raise up the underside of the hands and feet, displaying their bright colour as a warning. In the wild they are semi-aquatic and spend much of their time floating on the surface of ponds. They also hibernate from September to April when the weather is much too cold to sustain their activity.
Reproduction: After emerging from hibernation in late April, these toads soon start appearing at the breeding sites that are deemed suitable. They are opportunistic toads, and other than ponds they may also be found breeding in rice paddies, swamps, streams, the edges of lakes and even roadside ditches. They are capable of laying many as 250 eggs in a single spawning. These can take up to 2 months to develop into tadpoles. The tadpoles diet consists of a wide variety of food, and they usually metamorphose into frogs within 1 – 2 months.
Diet: Small invertebrates, worms. Distribution: China, Korea, Eastern Russia. Conservation status: Least Concern.
Display Collection Reptiles
Cone Headed Lizard, Laemanctus longipes
Description: These medium-sized lizards have an extremely long tail and can attain a total length of 70cm. Their skin is bright green to help camouflage themselves in the rainforest habitat to which they belong. They have slender bodies with long arms and legs, an adaptation that allows them to rest upon broad leaves and branches within the rainforest. Being highly arboreal they rarely descend to the forest floor, with the exception of when the female digs a hole in the ground in which to deposit her eggs. Reproduction: Mating takes place in the canopy when the pair can be safe from many of their predators that live at ground level. The male uses the cone on the head to hold on to the female during copulation. Gestation of the eggs may take up to 2 months before the female is ready to deposit them. When this time comes she descends to the forest floor and digs a hole to lay her eggs. She may also use cavities of fallen and rotting trees in which to lay her eggs. She normally lays between 4 and 6 oval shaped eggs, which she immediately buries. This is as much parental care that they will receive from the parent. The eggs hatch at around 2 months incubation period and the young emerge as miniatures of the adult, fully developed and totally independent. Diet: Invertebrates. Distribution: Central American Rainforest, Southern Mexico. Conservation status: Least concern
Green Tree Python, Morelia viridis
Description: These average-sized pythons can reach an adults size of two metres in length. They are completely arboreal and have a bright green colouration to camouflage themselves in the trees in which they live. To aid in their completely arboreal habits they have an extremely strong muscular body and a prehensile tail. They are nocturnal and hunt by night; they use their forked tongue and heat sensitive pits around the mouth to hunt for warm bodied prey in complete darkness. When the prey is located, it is caught with a fast strike, and is then rapidly constricted using the snake’s muscular coils. The food is then consumed head first. Reproduction: Females lay 12 to 15 eggs, which are usually deposited within the hollow of a tree. Unusually for snakes, which often show no parental care, these snakes stay with their eggs and use contractions of the muscles to generate heat to aid in the egg’s incubation. During this time the female does not eat and she only drinks when rainwater gathers on her coils. She then carefully drinks each droplet able to be collected. The eggs hatch after approximately 65 days and the young are brightly coloured, usually yellow or red in colour. These colours then change to green as the young snake grows and develops. The young are independent upon hatching and so the mother and young soon go their separate ways. Diet: Small mammals and birds. Distribution: Northern Australia and Southern New Guinea. Conservation Status: Least Concern
Fijian Banded Iguana, Brachylophus fasciatus
Description: This is possibly one of the most beautiful lizards in the world; males are banded with blue and green whereas females lack any bands and are bright green with a head shaded with light blue. These lizards reach an adult size of up to 60cms including the tail and are completely arboreal. To suit this lifestyle, the iguanas possess long toes with needle sharp claws which are used to grip onto the bark of a tree. Males are highly territorial and will fight ferociously over territories, often causing severe injuries to one another. Within a given territory each male will have a single female with which he will mate with each year.
Reproduction: Females lay between 4 - 6 eggs that are soft bodied and round in shape. Eggs are deposited in holes buried on the forest floor, which is one of the few times the lizards will leave the trees in which they live. After laying the eggs, the female covers them with soil and uses her chin to pat down and flatten the area where she has laid them. When she is finished burying her eggs it is almost impossible to tell where she has hidden them. The eggs have a long incubation period and hatch anytime between 120 and 170 days. As soon as the young hatch they are independent. They are also sexually dimorphic, with males differing from young females by already possessing their bands.
Diet: Fruit, vegetables and leaves and also small invertebrates. Distribution: The Islands of Fiji and Tonga. Conservation Status: Endangered
Green Tree Monitor, Varanus pasinus
Description: This is one of the smaller species of monitor lizard, with adults attaining a length 80cm, including the tail. The reason for their small size is most likely due to the fact that they are almost completely arboreal and their size makes it easier for them to move around in the rainforest canopy. The lizards are bright emerald green in order to help them stay camouflaged, and they have long hook like claws and a prehensile tail to help them climb. They also possess modified scales under each toe, which are black, and which also help the lizard to grip branches up in the treetops. They have a long neck and a heavily forked tongue, like a snake, which they use to taste the air when hunting and foraging for food. They are diurnal and active during the day.
Reproduction: Females lay up to 6 oval shaped eggs that are deposited within the hollows of trees and where they are protected from the many predators living on the ground. Eggs take up to 6 months to hatch. Young emerge as a miniature form of the parent, completely independent from birth and ready to leave the nest immediately. Here they will live in the canopy, feeding on any small insects, baby birds, or small mammals that they can catch.
Diet: Invertebrates and small mammals. Distribution: New Guinea. Conservation status: Threatened
Panther Chameleon, Furcifer pardalis
Description: This is a relatively large species of chameleon, reaching a length of up to 50cms including the tail. Females attain only half the size of males. This species is sexually dimorphic, and other than size, the males and females are easily distinguished from one another due to their distinctive individual colouration. The males are elaborately coloured with the brightest colours of almost any species of chameleon and females are usually more uniformly dressed in light shades of peach or pink. Both sexes possess a white lateral stripe along their bodies. These amazing animals are perfectly adapted to their arboreal lifestyle; they possess fused digits of the hands, feet that create the perfect shape for grasping a branch, and they have a prehensile tail. They also have eyes that can move independently, giving them 360 degree vision. Chameleons have an amazing ability to project their tongue up to one and a half times the length of their body in order to catch their prey. It is a myth that chameleons change their colour for camouflage - this is only a basic function of their incredible ability to colour change, which is used primarily for high levels of communication with other chameleons and to help them scare away potential predators.
Reproduction: Females lay up to 30 small eggs that are deposited in a hole dug in the ground. The eggs are covered and have a long incubation period, only hatch after 6-10 months. They tiny young hatch and are independent from this moment, they lack the extreme colour changing ability of adults, this is developed as they grow. They grow extremely fast and reach maturity between 8-12 months of age.
Diet: Invertebrates. Distribution: Northern and East Madagascar, including some small offshore islands. Conservation Status: Least concern.
Lemur Leaf Frog, Agalychnis lemur
Description: Females of this tree frog are larger than males, reaching up to 53mm in size. By comparison, males are smaller and only attain a size of up to 41mm. This is a nocturnal species and spends the day sleeping underneath leaves and while resting this species skin colour is a vibrant green; camouflaging them whilst they sleep. These frogs become active at night and at this time their skin, and eye colour, changes to a shade of reddish brown. As in all leaf frogs, this species has large eyes with a vertical pupil.
Reproduction: Males call from vegetation above the ground in swampy areas or around small ponds and pools. Once a female has been attracted by a calling male, the frogs pair up in what is known as amplexus. The female carries the male on her back to a suitable site to spawn, usually on the underside of smooth leaves that overhang water, where clutches of 15-30 eggs are deposited. Development may take up to 10 days, and when this is completed the tadpoles hatch and fall from the leaf into the water below to continue their development.
Diet: Small Invertebrates. Distribution: Restricted to few remaining sites in Costa Rica. Conservation status: Critically Endangered
Yellow-eyed Lead Frog, Agalychnis annae
Description: This species of leaf frog was only scientifically described in 1963. It is a large species, with females reaching 84mm in length and males being slightly smaller. These frogs possess a beautiful golden-yellow iris and powder blue markings on the flanks and arms. As with all leaf frogs they are totally nocturnal. This species is a highland species that lives at altitudes of up to 1600m asl, therefore preferring cool temperatures. Living a high altitude may be significant in contributing to their decline in recent years, as the amphibian chytrid fungus that is responsible for many amphibian population declines thrives at a lower temperature.
Reproduction: This species breeds most frequently between the months of May and November, when males call from vegetation overhanging their breeding ponds. Once a female selects a male they produce spawn containing 40-160 eggs that are laid on the underside of a leaf growing above water. Upon hatching, the tadpoles drop into the water below to continue their development. Metamorphosis from tadpole to frog may take up to 250 days. Diet: Invertebrates. Distribution: Limited to few sites around the central highlands of Costa Rica the highlands of Western Central Panama Conservation status: Endangered Done
Spurrell’s Leaf Frog, Agalychnis spurrelli
Description: This species was first scientifically described in 1913 and was named after Dr.Spurrell, the person who collected the first specimens. Females of this species reach up to 100mm in size with males being smaller. However, adult size also varies greatly depending on which geographical population the specimens are from. This species possess a ruby-red coloured iris. Most specimens have orange coloured flanks and thighs, although in some populations occurring in Colombia this may be lacking. The hands and feet are always extensively webbed and are used to help the frogs perform their amazing gliding behaviour: as they jump from the rainforest canopy the hands and feet are used as parachutes to help them jump further and as an energy saving way to quickly reach their breeding ponds. Many individuals also possess white spots on the dorsum encircled with black, a feature often used by biologists to help distinguish between individuals.
Reproduction: This species rarely descends from the canopy during the rainy season to spawn; but when they do, they do it ‘en masse’. When breeding, hundreds of frogs can glide down from the rainforest canopy and congregate amongst the vegetation around breeding ponds. Here, the males constantly call, wrestle, and compete with one another for females. Spawning takes place on any leaf surface, and during these large congregations of breeding frogs leaves are literally left dripping with eggs. Competing males have even been observed scraping eggs off leaves with their legs to make room for their own female to lay. This explosive breeding technique overwhelms predators, therefore increasing the chances of survival of at least some of the young.
Diet: Invertebrates. Distribution: Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Ecuador. Conservation status: Least Concern.
Black-eyed Leaf Frog, Agalychnis moreletii,
Description: Although commonly known as the Black-eyed Leaf Frog, this iris of this species is actually an extremely deep red colour. Their flanks are usually bright orange in colour but this colour can be lacking from some populations. This nocturnal species is quite large, with females reaching 58mm in size and males being slightly smaller. The hands and feet of this species are only partly webbed and they have only a limited ability to engage in the gliding behaviour performed by some of the other leaf frogs. This species also lives at higher elevations than most other leaf frogs and can be found living at up to 1300m asl. As they have adapted to be only able to live at slightly cooler temperatures than most other leaf frogs, this may be contributing to their decline, as the chytrid fungus responsible for many amphibian population declines thrives at cool temperatures. Reproduction: During the onset of the rainy season, males descend from the canopy to congregate around temporary pools, ponds and even lakes. Once at a suitable breeding site, males begin to call in a small chorus. Once a female is attracted and amplexus is achieved the pair deposits a clutch of up to 75 eggs on leaves, roots and on occasion rocks above the surface of the water. The tadpoles hatch after 7-10 days of development and drop into the water below. Metamorphosis from tadpole to small frog can take up to 200 days. Diet: Invertebrates. Distribution: Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador and Southern Mexico. Populations within this range are extremely restricted. Conservation status: Critically Endangered
Red-eyed Tree Frog, Agalychnis callidryas,
Description: This is a widespread species that occurs throughout Central America from Mexico to Colombia. It is a lowland species that prefers a warm and tropical environment, and is a medium- sized leaf frog, with females reaching 77mm in total length. This is by far the best-known species of leaf frog in the world - with its bright red eyes and blue barring on the flanks it is the unmistakable frog poster child. Although colours may vary greatly depending on the population, this species is one of the most brightly coloured frogs of all and it is also a highly successful species that can tolerate changes to its wild habitat and can breed opportunistically.
Reproduction: This species will utilise any suitable body of water with overhanging vegetation to spawn, which aids in its success as a species. It breeds throughout the year. Males call and compete amongst one another for females and have several calls they emit. Between 40 to 60 eggs are laid on vegetation that over hangs water, usually on the underside of the leaf to stop the developing eggs from drying out in direct sunlight. Approximately 1 week later the tadpoles will hatch and drop into the water below to continue their development.
Diet: Invertebrates. Distribution: Southern Mexico, Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia. Conservation Status: Least Concern.
Splendid Leaf Frog, Cruziohyla calcarifer
Description: The splendid Leaf frog is a large and beautiful species of leaf frog; females attain a size of up to 87 mm with males being slightly smaller. This is a very rarely encountered species in the wild due it spending much of its time in the rainforest canopy and only descending to spawn in very specific breeding sites. Until live specimens were collected and brought to The Manchester Museum Vivarium, very little at all was known about this species, in fact, there were only 9 museum specimens worldwide in alcohol. The tadpole and call of the males was undescribed and almost nothing was known of the behaviour of the species. This species belongs to a separate genus to other leaf frogs called Cruziohyla, the species name Calcarifer comes from the calcar which this species possess on the leg. As with all leaf frogs it has brightly coloured flanks, this species is marked with orange with black bars and it has a brightly coloured iris which is bicolored with grey and yellow.
Reproduction: This species preferred breeding sites in the wild is within the hollows of fallen trees that are filled with water. Small aggregations of males descend from the canopy and call around the breeding site until a female appears to select one of them. A unique characteristic of this species which is unknown in any other species of leaf frog is in the behaviour of competing males. As well as calling, males use the flat brightly coloured surface of the leg to wave to one another in a territorial display; this behaviour was first observed and described at The Manchester Museum Vivarium. Once a pair is ready to spawn a relatively small clutch of eggs are attached to the inside surface and roots of the hollow above the water, eggs hatch after approximately 10 days and tadpoles may take as long as 12 months to complete metamorphosis in the wild.
Diet: Invertebrates. Distribution: Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Panama. Conservation status: Rare but population stable.
Giant Monkey Frog, Phyllomedusa bicolor
Description: The giant monkey frog is the largest member of the genus, and one of the largest species of tree frog in the wold. Females are particularly large; they may attain a total size of up to 119 mm. This species spends much of its time in the canopy, descending in the wet season to breed. It is a strictly nocturnal species which spends the daytime perched on branches amongst the trees basking in sunlight. Sitting in strong sunlight is not something all amphibians are capable of, but the Giant monkey frog has special glands under the skin which produce a substance which it uses its hands and feet to spread all over the body, this secretion protects the skin from drying out in the Sun and is also used to keep the skin clean, as it also has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Reproduction: This species is known to breed throughout the year. Males call from high up in the trees to attract a mate. Once as female has chosen a male the pair descends to a body of water, usually a pond, to spawn. As with all monkey frogs the eggs are deposited above the water and are laid within a leaf nest produced by the parents whilst spawning. As this species is so large it most often joins two large leaves together to construct its nest and may lay as many as 600 eggs within it. These eggs hatch after approximately 10 days where the tadpoles fall into the water below to continue their development. Diet: Invertebrates. Distribution: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela. Conservation status: Least concern.
Tiger-striped Monkey Frog, Phyllomedusa tomopterna
Description: A medium sized species of monkey frog attaining a maximum size of up to 60 mm, with females being slightly larger than the males. This is a lowland species which occurs up to 500 m asl, meaning that it prefers a warm and humid tropical environment. It is strictly nocturnal and by day rests within vegetation lying flat on a leaf asleep, covering its bright orange and black tiger-striped flank colouration. This colouration is most likely used as a flash marking to scare any animal that wishes to predate on it, allowing the frog time to escape after startling the predator with bright colour.
Reproduction: This species is observed breeding most often between the months of December to May. During this time groups of males congregate on low vegetation surrounding water, most often ponds or swampy areas, and call to compete with one another. Once a male has been selected by a female the pair produces a small nest of eggs hanging above the pond. The nest is made by folding a leaf as the eggs are laid within it; this leaf is sealed shut by a substance produced by the female which acts like a glue. These nests containing up to 70 eggs take 10 – 14 days to hatch, at this time the tadpoles fall into the water below to continue their development. Metamorphosis is accomplished after approximately 2 months depending on water temperature. Diet: Invertebrates. Distribution: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela. Conservation status: Least Concern.
Tan-ridged Monkey Frog, Phyllomedusa Vaillanti
Description: This medium sized monkey frog may attain sizes of up to 83 mm, with females being much larger than males. In fact males of this species are dwarfed in comparison to females, a large male may only measure 63 mm. This is a nocturnal species which rests by day perched on branches within vegetation. It is unique amongst Monkey frogs by having a very angular parotid gland giving the sides of the body a much ridged appearance, this feature makes them easy to identify when compared to other species of monkey frog which may be found within the same habitat.
Reproduction: Breeding most often occurs during the rainy seasons when the temporary ponds and swamps which this species uses to breed are full of water and are least likely to dry up. Groups of males compete with one another by calling around the breeding site from the surrounding vegetation. Once a pair is joined in amplexus they lay their eggs within the overhanging vegetation within a leaf nest that they construct themselves. The pair may produce as many as 600 eggs in a single spawning, these eggs take 10 – 14 days to develop where the tadpoles fall into the water below to continue their development. The tadpoles of this species exhibit particularly interesting social behaviour, by day tadpole school like fish in groups arranged by size and by night tadpoles spread out and swim independently, this is most likely an anti-predator behaviour.
Diet: Invertebrates. Distribution: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela. Conservation status: Least concern.
Oophaga pumilio, The Strawberry Poison Dart Frog
Conservation Status: Endangered
Diet: These frogs feed on small invertebrates on the forest floor and amongst leaf litter.
Distribution: Central America; Costa Rica and Panama, including the Panamanian Islands of Bocas Del Toro.
Description: These small Poison-Dart frogs reach their adult size at up to 20mm. They are diurnal and therefore are active during the day unlike many other species of amphibian. They are able to be active during the day when they are easily seen due to their bright coloration which acts as a warning to predators indicating that they are poisonous if eaten. Although commonly referred to as the Strawberry Poison-Dart frog this species varies greatly in colour throughout its range; frogs from differing localities may be green, blue, yellow or a combination of these colours and with varying patterns. Reproduction: Males call throughout the day to declare their territories and also to attract females. Once a female has accepted a male they produce a small clutch of 4-6 eggs on a leaf. The male then guards these eggs until they are ready to hatch; upon hatching he then transports tadpoles by carrying them on his back and deposits them within the water filled centres of bromeliads within his territory. He then cares for his tadpoles by attracting the females to return to his territory and feed his tadpoles by laying infertile ‘food’ eggs for them to eat, as they eat nothing else. This is where the genus Oophaga gets its name, meaning ‘Egg Eater’, referring to the tadpoles specialised diet.
Agalychnis lemur, The Costa Rican Lemur Leaf Frog
Conservation status: Critically Endangered; threatened by habitat loss and chytrid fungous. Diet: Small Invertebrates. Distribution: Restricted to few remaining sites in Costa Rica. Description: Females of this small tree frog are larger than males, reaching a size of up to 53mm. Males are quite small in only attaining a size of up to 41mm. This is a nocturnal species and spends the daytime sleeping underneath leaves, at rest this species skin colour is a vibrant green; camouflaging them whilst they rest. These frogs become active at night, at this time their skin, and eye colour, changes. It changes from the green daytime coloration, to shades of red and brown by night. As in all Leaf Frogs, they have large eyes with vertical pupils. Reproduction: Males call from vegetation above the ground in swampy areas or around small ponds and pools. Once a female is attracted the frogs pair up in what is known as amplexus. The female carries the male on her back to a suitable site to spawn, usually on the underside of smooth leaves that overhang water, where clutches of 15-30 eggs are deposited. Development may take up to 10 days, when this is completed tadpoles fall from the leaf into the water below to continue their development.