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April 21, 2018  |  Login

Harlequin Frog
Atelopus varius

What Are They Like?

The colorful harlequin frog is one of the world's rarest and most highly endangered amphibians. Adult males grow to about 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 4 centimeters) in length, while females are larger, reaching almost 2 inches (5 centimeters) in length. The harlequin frog - which is actually in the toad family- is dark colored (black or brown) and overlaid with brightly colored spots and streaks that can vary greatly in color from orange, red and yellow to blue to green. They have very slender limbs with pointed toes.

Where Do They Live?

Harlequin frogs may be found in the lowland and montane forests of Western Panama, Costa Rica and Colombia. They inhabit the moist vegetated environment of the forest floor, and are often found in close proximity to streams.

Did You Know?
Despite their name, harlequin frogs are actually true toads and belong to the Bufonidae family.

How Are Babies Made?

Breeding season begins in mid-August and will last until to the end of the year. During October and December, females will lay a string of 30 to 75 eggs in shallow water. After the males fertilize them, the eggs will hatch in about 36 hours.

What Do They Eat?

Harlequin frogs primarily feed on small insects such as gnats and flies.

Did You Know?
The bright colors of the Harlequin Frog serve as a warning to predators of its toxicity.

What Do They Do?

Harlequin frogs are active during the day, and spend their time sitting on rocks or logs near streams. At night, they sleep in low vegetation or within rock crevices. They are very slow moving and sedentary compared to other frogs and toads in the area. Although harlequin frogs prefer to live near streams, they rarely spend any time in the water. They tend to gather together on the wet surfaces of splash zones for moisture.

How Concerned Should We Be?

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which keeps a "Red List" of species in danger worldwide, lists the harlequin frog as "critically endangered." The biggest threat to this frog is believed to be chytridiomycosis, a fungal infection that has caused a drastic decline in their populations. Climate change is believed to the catalyst behind the rampant growth and spread of the chytrid fungus. Introduced predators such as trout have also had a negative impact on frog populations.

What's Being Done?

Currently conservation efforts for the harlequin frog include population and microclimate monitoring, genetic studies and habitat protection. In 2009, The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project was established at the Summit Park in Panama. Their primary focus is to rescue amphibians at risk of extinction in Eastern Panama and to reduce the devastating impact of the amphibian chytrid fungus so that captive amphibians may eventually be reā€introduced to the wild.


Harlequin Frog

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