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Spurrell’s Leaf Frog

Spurrell’s Leaf Frog, Agalychnis spurrelli

agalychnis_spurrelliDescription: This species was first scientifically described in 1913 and was named after Dr.Spurrell, the person who collected the first specimens. Females of this species reach up to 100mm in size with males being smaller. However, adult size also varies greatly depending on which geographical population the specimens are from. This species possess a ruby-red coloured iris. Most specimens have orange coloured flanks and thighs, although in some populations occurring in Colombia this may be lacking. The hands and feet are always extensively webbed and are used to help the frogs perform their amazing gliding behaviour: as they jump from the rainforest canopy the hands and feet are used as parachutes to help them jump further and as an energy saving way to quickly reach their breeding ponds. Many individuals also possess white spots on the dorsum encircled with black, a feature often used by biologists to help distinguish between individuals.

Reproduction: This species rarely descends from the canopy during the rainy season to spawn; but when they do, they do it ‘en masse’. When breeding, hundreds of frogs can glide down from the rainforest canopy and congregate amongst the vegetation around breeding ponds. Here, the males constantly call, wrestle, and compete with one another for females. Spawning takes place on any leaf surface, and during these large congregations of breeding frogs leaves are literally left dripping with eggs. Competing males have even been observed scraping eggs off leaves with their legs to make room for their own female to lay. This explosive breeding technique overwhelms predators, therefore increasing the chances of survival of at least some of the young.

Diet: Invertebrates.

Distribution: Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Ecuador.

Conservation status: Least Concern.


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