Golden Toad

golden toad
  • Name: Golden Toad; also known as Bufo periglenes
  • Habitat: Tropical forests of Costa Rica
  • Historical Epoch: Pleistocene-Modern (2 million-20 years ago)
  • Size and Weight: About 2-3 inches long and one ounce
  • Diet: Insects
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Bright orange males; larger, less colorful females

About the Golden Toad

Last seen in 1989--and presumed to be extinct, unless some individuals are miraculously discovered elsewhere in Costa Rica--the Golden Toad has become the poster genus for the mysterious worldwide decline in amphibian populations. The Golden Toad was discovered in 1964, by a naturalist visiting a high-altitude Costa Rican "cloud forest;" the bright orange, almost unnatural color of the males made an immediate impression, although the slightly larger females were much less ornate. For the next 25 years, the Golden Toad could only be observed during the spring mating season, when large groups of males would swarm over less numerous females in small ponds and puddles.

The extinction of the Golden Toad was sudden and mysterious. As recently as 1987, over a thousand adults were observed mating, then only a single individual in 1988 and 1989 and none thereafter. There are two possible explanations for the demise of the Golden Toad: first, since this amphibian relied on very specialized breeding conditions, the population could have been knocked for a loop by sudden changes in climate (even two years of unusual weather would have been enough to wipe out such an isolated species). And second, it's possible that the Golden Toad succumbed to the same fungal infection that has been implicated in other amphibian extinctions around the world.

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Your Citation
Strauss, Bob. "Golden Toad." ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2020, Strauss, Bob. (2020, August 25). Golden Toad. Retrieved from Strauss, Bob. "Golden Toad." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).