The Gaudy Leaf Frog, Agalychnis callidryas, has come to be one of the best known ambassadors for Costa Rica. Along with toucans, monkeys and quetzals, Gaudy Leaf Frogs have come to embody all the enchantment and beauty awaiting discovery in the tropical rainforest. In Drake Bay, we are lucky enough to have these lovely creatures as a mainstay on The Night Tour. Their charm and style never fail to marvel guests and guides alike, and usually make for one of our most popular encounters.
Gaudy Leaf Frogs are more active during the rainy season, when they breed, and are much easier to find. Males tend to call from their perches in the hope of attracting a gravid female with which to mate. An anxious female may sit for hours listening to these calling males before choosing the one she is attracted to. At this point she will walk towards her chosen mate pretty much in a straight line.
Once they meet, they will embrace in axillary ampexus and begin the mating process. The female frog begins her search for a suitable leaf on which to lay her eggs. She may lay between 10 and 100 eggs in a single egg clutch; and may lay up to 5 egg clutches in one night for a maximum total of 265 eggs. The eggs are transparent. As such, the developing tadpoles can be observed wiggling around, as they grow larger and larger during the course of a week.
After 7 days of development, hatching usually occurs during a heavy rain. The tadpoles scramble out of the egg
mass, which has provided them with nourishment and protection. Once they are free of the egg mass, the tadpoles fall to the ground and are swept away by the torrent of heavy rain. Hopefully they will end up in a puddle, where they will finish their development and eventually transform into tiny little frogs.
When they do emerge from their puddle as newly formed frogs, Gaudy Leaf Frogs look very different from their emblematic adult form. We have actually raised these amazing creatures at
home, in an aquarium, from their eggs stage until they emerged from the water. With a steady diet of flake fish food they completed their metamorphosis in about a month with minimal casualties. In nature this process may take as long as 80 days and the survival rate is low. The photograph above was taken the day this lovely little Gaudy Leaf Frog left the water, as it was being released back into the wild.
– Posted by Gianfranco