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The colony of Panamanian golden frogs on exhibit arrived on March 24, 2012 from the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. They hatched at the Buffalo Zoo in New York in October of 2010.
Luckily for our visitors, these beautiful golden frogs are always hopping about in their habitat enclosures so it is easy to observe them. They like to sit in the cascade or in the water and you can sometimes see them trying to climb up the wall.
Reptile and Amphibian House
Panamanian golden frogs are part of a group of strikingly-marked amphibians known as Harlequin toads or stub-footed toads, and belong to the true toad family Bufonidae. They are referred to as frogs because the dorsum is smooth and the head is longer than it is wide, a characteristic that is more typical to frogs than toads. Panamanian golden frogs are slender, terrestrial frogs with long limbs. These frogs can’t jump too far; instead, they hop or walk about in a clumsy manner.
Nobody is certain how long a Panamanian golden frog lives in the wild; in captivity, they can live up to 5 years or more.
These frogs are diurnal, and active during mostly during the morning and early evening, hopping about the forest floor in search of food and mates. Harlequin toads generally live near streams, where the voice calls used by males to attract females and settle territories are often muffled by the sound of fast-flowing water. Male Panamanian golden frogs can be seen waving their hands to each other, literally saying “stop, don’t get any closer, this is my place”. This behavior, known as semaphoring, is believed to have evolved in order to communicate in noisy environments, like streams, and takes advantage of their keen sense of sight.
These frogs can be very prolific in the lab, but fewer and fewer tadpoles are being found in the wild. Males are known to be very persistent, clinging to a female for days, just “waiting” on her back until the moment she is finally fertile. Eggs are laid during periods of reduced stream flow, usually at the onset of the dry season, in wide shallow areas of the stream where the canopy is more open.
Dry forest males = 35-40 mm; Dry forest females = 45-55 mm. Wet forest males = 39-48 mm; Wet forest females = 55-63 mm. Newly metamorphosed froglets = 6 mm.
Dry forest males = 3-5 g; Dry forest females = 4-7 g. Wet forest males = 8-12 g; Wet forest females = 10-15 g. Newly metamorphosed froglets = less than 0.5 g.
The Panamanian golden frog is a visual predator meaning it locates prey by sight. In the wild these frogs prey on a variety of small invertebrates. At the Zoo, the frogs are offered a variety of invertebrates including fruit flies, crickets and small worms.
It inhabits fast flowing streams in dry forests and wet forests. It is endemic to Panama, meaning that it is found only in that country.
On the 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Panamanian golden frog is listed as Critically Endangered.
Ecuador, South America: Amphibian Conservation Center - Mazán Forest
To learn more about the conservation efforts at the Philadelphia Zoo, click here.
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