The good news is that there are frogs everywhere at La Selva, although the bad news is that these species are resistant to the chytrid fungus that I mentioned in an earlier post. Some species have special protein fragments (called peptides) in their skin, others have different adaptations for dealing with the threat.
Strawberry dart frogs are very common in certain areas of the station, and their calls fill the air. Of course, when I try to approach them, they stop singing, but fortunately, they haven’t stopped for everyone:
The dart frog in the video belongs to the same species as the ones I photographed, which is called Oophaga (or Dendrobates) pumilio. The reason for two different genus names is that the older name Dendrobates (which means “tree climber”) used to apply to nearly all poison dart frogs, but this particular species was recently switched to the genus Oophaga (which means “egg eater”). The term “egg eater” refers to the mother’s habit of feeding her tadpoles unfertilized eggs, which the young ones need for survival. Most species of dart frog are excellent parents, as can be seen in the video here:
Even more interesting is the variety of colors in Oophaga pumilio, from the red body and blue legs that is common in Costa Rica and Nicaragua to a wide assortment on the islands of northwestern Panama.
And here’s a video with some more color varieties:
While I’m at it, I might as well show Oophaga pumilio frogs chasing each other around:
These weren’t the only frogs that I found on my slippery walk; I also encountered another of my favorites, Dendrobates auratus.
These frogs make popular pets for people who really know how to take care of them, and I even had a group of them myself. Of course, in order to come down here to Central America and see these animals in the wild, I needed to give my dart frogs away to a good home, since they really need daily care. In the wild, however, these guys are fine on their own.
Take this one as an example (and hear the cicadas in the background):
As you can see, there were also frogs that weren’t as brightly colored, and there are brown toads hopping around at night.
There were also tadpoles in a pond near the entrance bridge, which I hope means promise for the future.
So it seems that certain species of frog have survived the chytrid onslaught, but they’ll still be in terrible danger if they lose their natural habitat. Poison dart frogs can’t live in cattle pastures!