Splendid Leaf Frog, Cruziohyla calcarifer
Description: The splendid Leaf frog is a large and beautiful species of leaf frog; females can attain a size of 87 mm, with males attaining a slightly smaller size. 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, until then there were only 9 museum specimens worldwide in alcohol, and the call of the males was undescribed in detail and almost nothing was known of the behaviour of the species. This species belongs to a different genus to most other leaf frogs. It was separated some years ago through DNA analysis and was placed in the genus Cruziohyla along with its sister species, the Fringed Leaf Frog. The species name Calcarifer comes from the ‘calcar’, a flap of skin found on the heel which this species possesses on the heel. As with all leaf frogs it has brightly coloured flanks – this species is marked with orange and black bars. Both species belonging to this genus have 2 colours to their iris, grey and yellow.
Reproduction: This species breeds in primary forest where it lays its eggs in 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. A unique characteristic of this species, which is so far unknown in any other species of leaf frog is in the unusual behaviour of the territorial 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 tree, above the water, where the eggs hatch after approximately 10 days. The tadpoles may take as long as 12 months to complete metamorphosis in the wild.
Distribution: Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Panama.
Conservation status: Rare but population stable.