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Panama 2008 - Amphibians

This is known as the hourglass tree frog (Hyla ebraccata), and is one of the first wild Panamanian amphibians I got to see. 


This tree frog was considerably larger than the hourglass tree frog.  It's known as the red webbed tree frog (Hyla rufitela).


Taxonomy is an ever-changing thing and it's almost impossible to keep up with all the new nomenclature.  I always knew this genus as Eleutherodactylus but it is up for a change.  It's commonly mistaken for a tree frog due to its large digital disks, but it is not a true tree frog.  One common name I found is Chiriqui robber frog (Pristimantis cruentus).  This is a pair in amplexus, and the male is obviously the smaller individual on top.

The marine toad (Bufo marinus) is the scorn of Australians because of its introduction to that country in the 1930s.  They were brought in to control beetles in the sugar cane fields and proceeded to expand their range and outcompete native amphibian species, thus causing their decline.  Aussies absolutely hate this toad and it's known as the "cane toad" in that country.  The big bean-shaped glands behind the eyes are paratoid glands and they contain toxins.  They're mostly a deterrent for mammals that pick up the toad in their mouth and try to eat them.


I thought this was interesting enough to warrant a photograph.  I have never seen a tick on an amphibian before.  If you look below the tick you can see the paratoid gland is exuding toxins.  This is in response to being picked up by my colleague.


You can see the toxins oozing out of the glands better in this shot.  They won't harm you if you get them on your skin, but you should probably wash your hands before eating or rubbing your eyes or nose.


This is the yellow cricket tree frog (Hyla microcephala).  The species name microcephala translates to "small head."


This was an incredible sight to behold.  A Starrett's glass frog with eggs (Hyalinobatrachium vireovittatum).  This is a male and he continually revisits his eggs to urinate on them in order to keep them moist and viable.  I first thought he was protecting them but I was informed that they will sit nearby and occasionally climb atop the egg masses and rub their underbelly over them, wetting them down in the process. 


Another shot of the frog sitting on top of the egg mass.  If you look closely, you can already see tadpole development.  This species lays eggs on the underside of leaves that overhang water.  In this case they were over the top of a slow-moving stream.  I had to straddle the water and have someone hold the leaf in order to snap these photos.


Here's a captive glass frog and now you can see how they get their common name.  Amazing!!!


We only saw one specimen of this frog, a type of robber frog (Pristimantis gaigei).  It was fairly small but definitely not short on color.





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