Tag Archive: Rainforest Costa Rica

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

Genus/species: Oophaga (formerly Dendrobates) pumilio

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Despite the common name, coloration is reportedly highly variable among locations with up to 30 color morphs . Individuals may be ripe-strawberry red, brilliant blue, deep green or brown. The limbs are marbled dark blue and black. Body is slim, snout is rounded, the eyes large. The long, slender forelimbs end in finger and toe tips expanded into adhesive discs. Length to 2.5 cm (1 inch).

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama. Primarily terrestrial in tropical rain forest leaf litter and decaying vegetation.

DIET IN THE WILD: Hunts diurnally, primarily upon ants and oribatid mites.

PREDATION: Night ground snakes are immune to the toxins of O. pumilio. Tadpoles are often consumed because their poison glands are underdeveloped.  They are in danger of an aggressive fungus – Chytrid Fungus – that is killing off frog populations around the globe.

REPRODUCTION: The male protects and keeps their eggs moist until they hatch. Then the female carries the tadpoles to a water filled bromeliad where the young feed on unfertilized eggs (oophagy).

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List: Least Concern (LC)
population numbers are currently high despite illegal capture for the pet trade and habitat loss.

REMARKS: Alkaloids in the skin glands of poison frogs serve as a chemical defense against predation, and most come from the oribatid mites. In captivity, with a non-native food source, they lose their toxicity.



California Academy of Sciences Docent Rainforest Training Manual 2014

Ron’s flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608456457315/with/3142854919/

Animal Diversity Web animaldiversity.org/accounts/Oophaga_pumilio/

IUCN Red List  www.iucnredlist.org/details/55196/0

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/330984/details

Ron’s WordPress shortlink http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-LZ

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

Genus/species: Phyllobates lugubris

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: P. lugubris are small frogs, less than an inch in length, with the females slightly larger than the males. The head is longer than wide with a round snout. The back is jet black with paired dorsolateral stripes, of various colors including yellow, orange, gold or turquoise. They also have a thinner lighter turquoise or white ventrolateral stripe on each side from the tip of the snout to and along the front limbs.


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: This species inhabits the humid lowland and the premontane zone along the Atlantic coast of southeastern Nicaragua through Costa Rica to Central Panama. The frogs live in the leaf litter of the forest floor, near slow-moving water.

DIET IN THE WILD: Eat ants, mites, beetles, and spiders.

REPRODUCTION: Breeding occurs in the wet season. Males call to attract females, with a chortle that sounds like a hand rubbing an inflated balloon. A pair works together to create a ground nest in dry leaf litter. The female then deposits her eggs, which the male fertilizes. The male takes over and periodically moistens the eggs in the nest until the eggs hatch. He then carries 5 to 10 tadpoles at a time on his back to aquatic rearing sites. In about 2 months the tadpoles metamorphose into froglets that are about a half an inch long.

Phyllobates lugubris14933390504_dcd8c270b1_o

MORTALITY/LONGEVITY: Most poison dart frogs can live from 10 to 15 years in captivity. In general poison dart frogs have few predators. Their bright colors warn potential predators that they are toxic, even though in reality many of them merely taste bad because of sour but low potency toxins in their skins. Thus this group provides examples of both aposematic coloration and Batesian mimicry (an edible animal is protected by its resemblance to a noxious one that is avoided by predators).

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List Least concern (LC) This species is relatively safe due to its wide distribution, tolerance to modification to its habitat, and its fairly large population. Some collected specimens have been found to be infected with Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (chytrid fungus), but the pathogenic impacts are unclear.

REMARKS: Some South American natives capture other members of this genus (Phyllobates terribilis, P. bicolor, P. aurotaenia) to poison blow-gun darts. However, Phyllobates lugubris is not as toxic as other species in its genus and has not been documented to have been hunted primarily for its poison

P. lugubris is sympatric with another species, Eleutherodactylus gaigeae, known as the “false poison-dart frog.” This species mimics the appearance of P. lugubris in order to fend off predators, by having two paired red stripes running the length of the body. However, E. gaigae is a non-toxic mimic and does not produce batrachotoxins.


California Academy of Sciences Animal Attractions, Docent Rainforest Training Manual 2014

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1t1

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/14933390504/in/set-72157620708938680

Amphibiaweb  amphibiaweb.org/cgi/amphib_query?where-genus=Phyllobates&…

IUCN Red List www.iucnredlist.org/details/55263/0

Encyclopedia of Life eol.org/pages/1025277/details


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)

Genus/species: Caligo atreus 

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Caligo atreus is much more colorful than its peers—its dorsal side has deep blue striping on the top part of the wing and bright yellow on the bottom half of the wing. (see Chicago Botanical garden in references)
The underside is a rich chocolate color with eye spots and a prominent grey-yellow vertical stripe on the ventral surface.

Wing top, (dorsal side below)

C atreus20026840583_be349c9b4f_k

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: They are found in Mexico south to Northern South America, Found in dense rainforest but occasionally they visit banana plantations to lay their eggs on leaves.

DIET IN THE WILD: The larvae feed on Musa and Heliconia species and can be a pest for banana cultivation. Adults feed on juices of rotting fruit.

Wing bottomside (ventral side below)Owl Butterfliy4185273802_a8ebe26468_b

Remarks: Color communicates; deimatic behavior describes actions by an organism to startle a potential predator, thereby allowing the would-be prey to escape. An organism may display “eye spots”, which are often found on non-vital body parts like wings, flash bright colors, or arrange their body in an aggressive manner. Ref. California Academy of Sciences Docent training for Color of Life Exhibit May 2015


California Academy of Sciences  Rainforest 2017

Chicago Botanical Garden my.chicagobotanic.org/tag/caligo-atreus/

Encyclopedia of Life eol.org/pages/149494/overview

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/4185273802/in/album-72157608449327886/

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1ze




Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda (insects, arachnids, and crustaceans)
Class: Insecta
Order: Blattodea (cockroaches and the termites)
Family: Blaberidae (giant cockroaches)

Genus/species: Blaberus giganteus 

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: They have three pairs of legs, and two pairs of wings, the forewings being light brown in colour. Largest neotropical cockroach by weight. A giant cockroach has a flattened, oval body, about 9 cm (3.5 inches) long and 4 cm (1.5 inches) wide. Females are slightly larger than males. They commonly run along the ground, although the adults have wings that are rarely if ever used for flight. They have long, very slender antennae and two sensory organs, called cerci, at the tip of the abdomen.

Blaberus giganteus 3445478500_7a02fcb067_b

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Central and South America. They prefer dark, damp locations such as caves, rock crevices, tree hollows, and spaces under loose tree bark.

Blaberus giganteus 3775296951_fd8e873273_b

DIET IN THE WILD: Cockroaches are omnivores and detritivores. Common diet includes bat guano, rotting wood, fruit, seeds, decomposing vegetation, dead insects, and other animals. They help recycle decaying matter on the ground into useful nutrients for plants. 

REPRODUCTION: Females emit a pheromone that induces males to mate. Male courtship rituals include raising wings at right angles to abdomen and making trembling movements with abdomen. After mating, the female B. giganteus will be pregnant for life producing eggs which turn into nymphs which later become adults.

Blaberus giganteus 3779077163_a2d1b493c7_b-2

MORTALITY/LONGEVITY: They can live about 20 months as adults.

PREDATORS:  Army ants kill and eat nymphs.

CONSERVATION:  IUCN: Not Listed; CITES: Not Listed  

Cockroaches dates back over 200-300 million years, and are very adaptable and resilient animals.

REMARKS:  The leg bristles and antennae are used for seeing and feeling, in their dark habitat, while their flat bodies enable them to hide in crevices and underneath rocks. Cockroaches do not have lungs to breathe, but instead they take air in through spiracles, which are tiny holes on the sides of their bodies, and are used to send oxygen to other parts of the body. This allows the cockroach to survive for a period of time without its head, until it dies of infection, starvation or dehydration. When threatened, the giant cockroach is able to produce a foul smell to ward off predators. 

Location: Rainforest Costa Rica CR04 


Toronto Zoo http://www.torontozoo.com/ExploretheZoo/AnimalDetails.asp?pg=445

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/1075061/details

Sreng, L. 1993. Cockroach Mating Behaviours, Sex-Pheromones, and Abdominal Glands (Dictyoptera, Blaberidae). Journal of Insect Behaviour. 6: 715-735.

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1tE

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/3776101942/in/set-72157620708938680

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


California Academy of Sciences docent Rainforest Training Manual 2014

Animal Diversity Web animaldiversity.org/accounts/Nephila_clavipes/

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/5389185249/in/album-72157620708938680/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1tf


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  www.iucnredlist.org/details/55470/0

Amphibiaweb amphibiaweb.org/cgi/amphib_query?where-genus=Dendropsophu…

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/1038861/details

Ron’s WordPress shortlink:  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-t6

Ron’s flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157620708938680

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


 Animal diversity Web animaldiversity.org/accounts/Dendrobates_auratus/

 California Academy of Sciences Docent Rainforest Training Manual 2014

 Dendrobates.org  www.dendrobates.org/auratus.html

Ron’s flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608456457315/

WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-Ln

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


California Academy of Sciences Docent Rainforest Training Manual 2014

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1sN

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/5389062001/in/album-72157620708938680/

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