One species we keep at the museum that’s not often mentioned on the blog happens to be one of our favourites. It’s Agalychnis spurrelli, also commonly known as Spurrell’s or the Gliding Leaf Frog. This species occurs over a fairly large range of Central America, from Costa Rica down to Panama, Colombia and Ecuador. During filming for the BBC’s Attenborough programme ‘Planet Earth’, where Andrew assisted the crew in capturing this species’ explosive breeding behaviour for the first time on film, hundreds of these frogs were filmed gliding down from the canopy to mass spawn.
The species is not very well represented within captivity, and there is little information regarding their husbandry or captive reproduction.
Although Andrew has kept and bred the Caribbean form in the past, in 2011 we obtained a new group of A. spurrelli froglets, which we have been patiently growing up to adulthood behind the scenes in the Vivarium. Like many amphibians with a large distribution and population isolation, the individuals from each area are distinct. Whereas most people may be familiar with the large Caribbean form of A. spurrelli, our new specimens originate from the Pacific Coast, where they differ from and are about half the size of those found on the Caribbean.
Whilst Andrew was attending the International Herpetology Congress in Canada, I was keeping myself busy in the vivarium and attempted to breed our adults. After several attempts that yielded only small amounts of infertile eggs, which is common when individuals spawn for the first time, I finally got a successful spawning of eggs (pictured) within our rain chamber – and I am pleased to say these resulted in us obtaining a really good amount of tadpoles!
Most of these have now completed development into small froglets and are currently doing well off display. Since the initial spawning, more have followed and to highlight our amphibian captive breeding achievements the tadpoles are now on public display in the museum so that anyone visiting the museum can observe their development into miniature gliding tree frogs for themselves!
This may be one of the first records of successful captive reproduction of this species, another being one at the museum many years ago in our Amazon Exhibit, involving the Caribbean form. As Agalychis are now CITES listed, it is extremely important we continue to develop captive breeding techniques to aid our understanding of their ex-situ conservation requirements.
To learn more about this species click HERE, and if you wish to see our A. spurrelli in the flesh, they are available as one of our sponsor a frog options where you can visit our vivarium and have a hands on experience with a real flying frog!
You may also be interested to check out our phyllomedusine tadpoles as they develop through Our live webcam straight from the Vivarium and viewable 24/7!
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