Red-Eyed Tree Frog Facts

A non-poisonous frog with startling eyes

Red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas)
Red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas). kerkla / Getty Images

The red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidrayas) is a small, non-poisonous tropical frog. The scientific name of the frog derives from the Greek words kalos (beautiful) and dryas (wood nymph). The name refers to the frog's vibrant coloration.

Fast Facts: Red-Eyed Tree Frog

  • Scientific Name: Agalychnis callidryas
  • Distinguishing Features: Small green frog with blue and yellow body stripes, orange or red feet, and orange-red eyes
  • Average Size: 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm)
  • Diet: Insectivorous
  • Lifespan: 5 years
  • Habitat: Central America wetlands
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Amphibia
  • Order: Anura
  • Family: Hylidae
  • Fun Fact: These small frogs use their brightly-colored eyes to scare away predators

Description

The red-eyed tree frog is a small arboreal species. Adult males are smaller (2 inches) than adult females (3 inches). Adults have orange-red eyes with verticals slits. The frog's body is bright green with blue and yellow stripes on the sides. The species has webbed feet with orange or red toes. The toes have sticky pads that help the animals stick to leaves and branches.

Distribution

Red-eyed tree frogs live in humid climates near ponds and rivers in southern Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. They occur from Veracruz and Oaxaca in Mexico to Panama and northern Columbia. The frogs have a relatively narrow temperature range requirement, so they only live in the rain forests and lowlands. Ideally, they require a daytime temperature from 75 to 85 °F (24 to 29 °C) and nighttime temperature from 66 to 77 °F (19 to 25 °C).

Red-eyed tree frog distribution
Red-eyed tree frog distribution. Darekk2

Diet and Predators

Tree frogs are insectivores that mainly hunt at night. They feed upon flies, crickets, grasshoppers, moths, and other insects. They are preyed upon by dragonflies, fish, snakes, monkeys, birds, and a variety of other predators. They are also susceptible to fungal infections.

Reproduction

Mating occurs from autumn to early spring, during the peak rainfall period. Males gather around a body of water and make a "chack" call to attract a mate. The egg-laying process is called amplexus. During amplexus, the female carries one or more males on her back. She draws water into her body to use to lay a clutch of around 40 gel-like eggs on a leaf overhanging water. The best-positioned male fertilizes the eggs externally.

If the eggs are not disturbed, they hatch within six to seven days, dropping the tadpoles into the water. However, red-eyed tree frog eggs exhibit a strategy called phenotypic plasticity, in which eggs hatch early if their survival is threatened.

Tree frogs lay their eggs on leaves over water. The tadpoles fall into the water when they hatch.
Tree frogs lay their eggs on leaves over water. The tadpoles fall into the water when they hatch. ©Juan Carlos Vindas / Getty Images

The yellow-eyed, brown tadpoles remain in the water for a few weeks to months, depending on environmental conditions. They change to adult colors after metamorphosis. The red-eyed tree frog lives about five years in the wild.

The species will breed in captivity in a high-humidity environment with tropical plants, controlled lighting (11-12 hours daylight), and controlled temperature (26 to 28 °C day and 22 to 35 °C night). Breeding is initiated by simulating a rainy season. Captive-bred frogs often live longer than five years.

Adaptations

The frog's red eyes are used for a startle display called deimatic behavior. During the day, the frog camouflages itself by flattening its body against a leaf bottom so only its green back is exposed. If the frog is disturbed it flashes its red eyes and reveals its colored flanks and feet. The coloring may surprise a predator long enough for the frog to escape.

Tree frogs use vibration to communicate. Males quiver and shake leaves to mark territory and attract females.

During the day, the frog folds its colored legs beneath it. If disturbed, it opens its eyes to startle predators.
During the day, the frog folds its colored legs beneath it. If disturbed, it opens its eyes to startle predators. Ferdinando valverde / Getty Images

Conservation Status

Due to its large habitat range and protected status in some areas, the IUCN classifies the species as "Least Concern." Red-eyed tree frogs are also abundant in captivity. However, the species does face challenges from deforestation, pollution, and pet trade collection. In the wild, its population is decreasing.

Sources

  • Badger, David P. (1995). Frogs. Stillwater (Minn.): Voyageur Press. ISBN 9781610603911.
  • Caldwell, Michael S.; Johnston, Gregory R.; McDaniel, J. Gregory; Warkentin, Karen M.(2010). "Vibrational Signaling in the Agonistic Interactions of Red-Eyed Treefrogs". Current Biology. 20 (11): 1012–1017. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2010.03.069
  • Savage, Jay M. (2002). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica: A Herpetofauna Between Two Continents, Between Two Seas. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-73537-0.
  • Solís, Frank; Ibáñez, Roberto; Santos-Barrera, Georgina; Jungfer, Karl-Heinz; Renjifo, Juan Manuel; Bolaños, Frederico (2008). "Agalychnis callidryas". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2008: e.T55290A11274916. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T55290A11274916.en
  • Warkentin, Karen M. (1998). "The development of behavioral defenses: a mechanistic analysis of vulnerability in red-eyed treefrog hatchlings". Behavioral Ecology. 10 (3): 251–262. doi:10.1093/beheco/10.3.251