Finding a specific species of tree frog in the rainforest can be difficult at the best of times, even if the species is considered to be common; sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time. Some have adapted to live and reproduce within the hollows of trees or within the water filled bromeliads high up off the forest floor, making them extremely difficult to find!
One such species of Central American amphibian which lives within tree holes is the Coronated tree frog, Anotheca spinosa.
Anotheca spinosa is a unique tree frog, in fact there is only one species of Anotheca; so there really is no other quite like it. This species has been recorded in Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama, and as previously mentioned lives and breeds within water filled tree holes; making it quite difficult to observe them in the wild.
They are commonly referred to as the Coronated tree frog due to the bony spines that form on the skull of the frog like a crown as they mature, as can be seen beginning to form in the above image of a sub-adult A.spinosa . When this species reproduces their tadpoles develop within the small pools inside the tree holes with the adults. The female frogs even produce eggs for them to feed upon, but besides this fairly little is known in detail about their reproduction.
Working with species such as this in captivity can be useful in discovering aspects of their natural history that are otherwise almost impossible to observe in the field. Due to the success of the Atlanta Botanical Garden in reproducing this species, we are lucky to also have a small group in The Vivarium. It is a pleasure working with such an unusual species of tree frog and we hope to have success in reproducing these ourselves in the future.
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