Red-eyed tree frogs, or Agalychnis calidryas, are one of the most recognizable tree frog species, probably because they are both adorable and have the eyes of Satan, but how much do you really know about them?
Alternate name: Red-eyed leaf frog
Mature Agalychnis calidryas are mostly green with light blue sides, yellow stripes, orange toes, bright blue upper legs, large suction cup toe pads, and bulging red eyes. Young red-eyed tree frogs are brown when they are young and only gain their iconic color as they age. They are slender in build, almost delicate-looking. Males are the smaller of the sexes, reaching 2 centimeters at maturity, while females measure from 3 to 4 centimeters at maturity.
Red-eyed tree frogs are found in lowland rainforest areas of Central America, usually near bodies of water. They are especially prevalent in Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.
Most of the time, red-eyed tree frogs reside in the treetop canopies of rainforests, however, during breeding season they venture down into ponds and other bodies of water. Overall, they prefer low-lying, moist areas of the rainforest conveniently located by a water source. The ideal temperature ranges from 75 to 85° during the day, 66 to 77° during the night, and an overall humidity of 80% to 100%. They are often found attached to the underside of leaves, where they rest during the day thanks to their suction-cup toes.
Red-eyed tree frogs are carnivorous, feasting on insects, such as crickets, moths, and grasshoppers, as well as smaller frogs.
Reproduction takes place during the rainy season and the breeding process is initiated first through croaking, then the males start frantically leaping from one leaf to another in order to establish their territory. They also do something called “quivering,” which is done at the peak of the loud croaking. The males rise up on all four legs to attract females and ward off other males. Two males face each other and shake their bodies violently to show their strength and to intimidate other males. Sometimes they will wrestle with one another, pinning each other to the leaves, and basically having the equivalent of a frog battle royale.
During the ritual, females will slyly venture down from the treetops. They try not to attract attention, but when they are inevitably noticed, several different male frogs will jump on her back and stay there, sometimes for days, as the female looks for an appropriate spot to lay her eggs. The best position for a male to be in is straight on the back where he can get his appendages around her stomach. When she finally lays her eggs on the underside of a leaf that is positioned above water, all males present try to fertilize them as they emerge from her body.
The egg-laying and hatching process of red-eyed tree frogs is unusual. Most frog species lay their eggs directly in the water, but the red-eyed tree frog lays them on the undersides of leaves that hang over a body of water. When the eggs rupture, fluid is released which washes the tadpoles into the water.
Red-eyed tree frogs can live anywhere from four to five years on average.
1. Many scientists believe that this species of tree frog developed its iconic red eyes as a defense mechanism to basically scare and shock predators into rethinking their meal choice of Agalychnis calidryas. It’s a valid theory: would you eat a chicken with glowing red eyes? Personally, this writer would let it do whatever it wanted.
2. While the general rule with animals is that bright colors equals poisonous, such is not the case with the red-eyed tree frog.
3. Agalychnis calidryas have three eyelids