Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Suborder: Araneomorphae (fangs slope towards each other in a pinching action)
Family: Nephilidae

Genus/species; Nephila Clavipes

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS; Orb-weavers are highly sexually dimorphic. Females grow up to 8 cm (3 in), and are 5 to 6 times larger than males. Adults are mostly yellow with elongated abdomen and long, hairy legs. This spider lives in hot places. The long cylindrical abdomen of the spider may be angled towards the sun to reduce the amount of exposed body surface and thus prevent overheating. The reflective silvery surface of much of the body serves the same purpose.

Nephila Clavipes   5389185249_24cf049f4f_b 

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: These spiders are found from the southeastern United States south through Argentina and Peru. They prefer areas of high humidity and forest areas along trails and clearing edges. N. clavipes is the only member of its genus known in the Western Hemisphere.

DIET IN THE WILD: They feed on small flying insects: beetles, flies, moths, etc., that are captured in their web. After prey is entangled in the web, the spider incapacitates it by biting and then encases it in silk.


REPRODUCTION: Mating is a tricky proposition for orb weaving males. For successful reproduction, males must successfully stimulate females in order to prevent being a meal for their would-be mate, though this unfortunate ending is relatively rare with this species.

MORTALITY/LONGEVITY: Life span: a single season (1 year).


•Orb weavers construct webs for defense and capture of prey.

•The silk of the web usually has a golden color that is visible to the naked eye and is the source of the common name.

•The impressive web of most orb weavers is a semi-permanent structure, repaired and rebuilt daily as necessary.

•Spiders from the Nephilia species on display from Madagascar are sometimes released into the Rainforest exhibit. They have settled in a territory behind the exhibit and observable from the spiral ramp. Only females are released as 1) they are much larger than the males and so more visible and 2) the Rainforest biologists have no interest in the uncontrolled breeding of these spiders in the exhibit!

Rainforest Costa Rica CR03


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Animal Diversity Web

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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Hylidae

Genus/species: Dendropsophus ebraccatus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Gets its name from the hourglass shape that you can usually see on the frog’s back. Its translucent skin changes color depending on the time of day and the stress the frog is experiencing. Iris brown to reddish bronze, sometimes tan or yellow. Pupil horizontal. Foot moderately to extensively webbed. Toes with large terminal discs. Length  males to 28 mm (1.1 inches) ; females to 37 mm (1.5 inches).

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT:  Native to Belize; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; Guatemala; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama.  Found in  humid tropical forest and in heavily disturbed areas where most of the forest has been removed. 

DIET IN THE WILD: Unknown but probably small arthropods.

REPRODUCTION: Eggs are placed on leaves overhanging  pools with the tadpoles developing in the water.

D. ebraccatus is very adaptable with the major threats deforestation for agricultural development, human settlement, and pollution resulting from the spraying of crops.

MORTALITY/LONGEVITY: Short lived, usually lasting less than 3 years.



IUCN Red List


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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Suborder: Neobatrachia
Family: Dendrobatidae

Genus/species: Dendrobates auratus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS:  Green marking on dark background. Color and pattern varies widely among populations of this species.  Aposematic (“warning”) coloration shies diurnal predators away from this bold frog An average species in size, toxicity, and coloration.  Males reach about three-quarters of an inch long; females are slightly larger.


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Central America to Northwest Colombia lowland tropical rainforests. Common in cocoa (not coca) plantations. Introduced to Hawaii (1932 Oahu) to control non-native insect populations. The “success” of this experiment has yet to be proven. Terrestrial frogs, but will climb. Active diurnally.

DIET IN THE WILD : Ants and mites, also tiny beetles, flies and springtails. Often captures insects feeding on rotting fruit.

REPRODUCTION: Each individual male frog clears a small patch for himself. Females wander among the males, the latter then attempt to impress the former with their bird-like mating calls. the two then mate. The male grasps the female in a gentle embrace, and fertilizes each egg as it is produced. In approximately 2 weeks, these hatch into tadpoles which are carried to the canopy the tadpoles sticking to the mucus on their parents’ backs. The parents then deposit their tadpoles into the small pools of water that accumulate in the center of bromeliads protecting them until their development is complete.

Green and black poison dart frog16461015440_7dab815173_k

MORTALITY/LONGEVITY: Can live to 17 years.

CONSERVATION: Least Concern (IUCN Red List). Still reported to be locally common, they are at some risk due to habitat destruction. They are popular in the pet trade, but most are captive-born.

REMARKS: D. auratus produces pumiliotoxin, a potent nerve poison manufactured and stored in subcutaneous membranes and secreted through a modified layer of epidermis. The small amount of pumiliotoxin poison the frog possesses is enough to make humans seriously ill by interfering with muscle contraction in the heart and skeletal muscle.

D. auratus, as with all poison dart frogs, loses its toxicity in captivity due to a change in diet. This has led scientists to believe that the green-and-black poison frog actually takes its poison from the ants it feeds on.

Green & Black Poison Dart Frog Dendrobates auratus (Dendrobatidae) 2

Costa Rica Rainforest


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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Lacertilia
Family: Polychrotidae

Genus/species: Norops oxylophus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Stream anoles are moderately large, about 8 cm (3 in) snout to vent, short-legged lizards. Females are slightly smaller than males. They are chocolate-colored with a pair of cream-colored lateral stripes that run from the shoulder down about 2/3 the length of the body. The irises of their eyes are a coppery color. This is one of the characteristics that distinguish N. oxylophus from N. aquaticus, a blue-eyed anole that lives in the same area.

Norops oxylophus 5389062001_ef78684622_b

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Honduras to northwestern Panama. Found in lowland forest and streams.

DIET IN THE WILD: Invertebrates. Anoles are visual lizards with excellent eyesight. They have color vision that includes ultraviolet wavelengths. Unlike many lizards, their sense of smell is poor, and they use their tongues to capture prey, rather than to sense them.

Norops oxylophus 5389664708_63b917acef_o

REMARKS: May dart across water to escape predators.

Rainforest Costa Rica CR04


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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Class: Insecta
Order Orthoptera (grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, katydids, and their relatives)
Family: Tettigoniidae

Genus/species: Copiphora rhinoceros

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF KATYDIDS: They are usually green and have a thick body, usually taller than it is wide, and long thin legs. The head has chewing mouthparts and long thin antennae that reach back at least to the abdomen of the insect. The front wings have special structures that can be rubbed together to make sounds. They hear these sounds with flat patches on their legs that act as ears.

Tettigoniids may be distinguished from grasshoppers by the length of their filamentous antennae, which may exceed their own body length, while grasshoppers’ antennae are always relatively short and thickened.

C. rhinoceros uses the horn like projection on their head for protection from hungry bats.


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Central, North and South America. Found in the forest canopy.

DIET IN THE WILD: They use their powerful jaws to subdue prey such as small invertebrates and consume plant material.

REMARKS Use sound to communicate across distances. Sometimes nearby males will all call together, trying to attract females. They also use their antennae to touch and smell each other.

Copiphora rhinoceros15949749665_c2933568be_k



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Animal Diversity Web…

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 Kingdom   Animalia

Phylum     Chordata

Class         Reptilia

Order         Squamata

Family       Corytophanidae

Genus/species  Basiliscus plumifrons


General Characteristics

 Their length, including tail, can be up to 85 cm (33 in).   Adult color is bright green, or slightly blue-green with males having  distinctive, high crests on their heads and backs, which they use to impress females. The females have only one small crest. During the first months of their lives, young ones are a brownish/olive green color, with bright green heads.

 B. plumifrons has been called the “Jesus Christ” lizard, because of its ability to walk on water. Their rear feet have long toes

with fringes of skin that unfurl in the water, increasing surface area. They rapidly move their legs as they slap their splayed feet hard against the water. This creates tiny air pockets that keep them from sinking, provided they keep running fast enough. They can move along the surface like this for 4.5 meters or more. When gravity eventually takes over, the basilisk is an excellent swimmer.


Central and South America. They are arboreal and semi-aquatic; inhabit the trees and bushes of the rainforest, often along riverbanks.

Diet in the Wild:  

Omnivores, surviving on a diet of plant material, insects, fruit, and small vertebrates.


In Costa Rica breeding occurs during the wet season, May to September. Pregnant females prepare a shallow trench where they lay up to 20 eggs leaving the eggs to hatch on their own. Incubation period is about 2 months. Hatchlings are born with the ability to run (on land and water), climb, and swim.


In the wild raptors, opossums, and snakes prey upon the lizards.  Life span is up to 10 years in captivity.

Location: Costa Rica CR02


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