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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Species Fact Profile: Panamanian Golden Frog (Atelopus zeteki)

Panamanian Golden Frog
Atelopus zeteki (Dunn, 1933)

Range:  West Central Panama
Habitat: Cloud Forest
Diet: Small Invertebrates
Social Grouping: Males are Territorial
Reproduction: Breed November through January (the late wet/early dry season); the average clutch consists of 370 eggs (with a range of 200-620), tadpoles hatch out after 7-11 days
Lifespan: 12 Years
Conservation Status: IUCN Critically Endangered, CITES Appendix I
  • Males are 3.5-5 centimeters long and weigh 3-12 grams; females are 4.5-6.5 centimeters long and weigh 4-15 grams; individuals from wet forests tend to be larger than dry forest frogs
  • Sexes are alike in appearance – uniform gold with one or more large black dorsal markings, long thin limbs, elongated fingers
  • Despite its common name, it is actually a toad, not a true frog
  • Terrestrial and diurnal, move about with distinctive ambling walk instead of hopping
  • Because it can be difficult to hear frog calls over the sounds of streams, males often communicate with “semaphoring” – flagging with their hands and feet
  • Protects itself from predators with a toxic skin secretion (most toxic of its genus); this poison can affect nerve function
  • In the past, the golden frog was considered a subspecies of harlequin frog (Atelopus varius)
  • The species has undergone a drastic decrease in numbers in recent years, most likely due to the fungal disease chytridiomycosis; it is also threatened by illegal capture (displayed in local hotels) and habitat loss
  • Golden frogs are intensively managed in captivity to ensure survival of the species
  • The national animal of Panama, it represents good luck and is often seen on lotto tickets

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