If you visit Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coastline, you are going to see a frog or two – and likely many more.
Take it to the bank because this is a guaranteed fact of life in the tropical rainforest. There are 133 species of frogs and toads in Costa Rica. Most are harmless, a few are dangerous and almost all of them feature absolutely stunning colors from their foreheads to their feet. These bright colors serve as a toxic warning to potential predators to stay away or risk it all.
So, picture yourself lounging at one of our incredible vacation villas (this isn’t difficult to do, is it?). It’s a crisp, warm Central American morning. Your belly is full of fresh, local coffee and fruit, and the entire day is wide open. You decide to go for a stroll along the rental property because on this morning, the jungle is bristling with life.
What types of frogs can you expect to encounter on your walk?
The most likely answer is a toad, large terrestrial frogs with thick, bumpy, dry skin that live on land. Toads here are plentiful and boisterous, especially during the early-evening hours when males let off distinct breeding calls. These grey-colored toads often act as an extra house guest, loafing around the pool and occasionally taking a dip in the water just to cool off. Unfortunately, toads never pay for anything and offer little in the way of good conversation.
But that’s just the tip of the frog iceberg. There are many more interesting amphibians lurking in the surrounding trees and ponds. Here are a few other frogs you might be lucky enough to encounter – and hopefully photograph – during your vacation in paradise:
Black and Green Poison Dart Frog
There are various types of poison dart frogs, but Black and Green are especially common locally. These species of poison dart frogs aren’t lethal – and some can even be held in the palm of your hand – but they can make you somewhat ill if their venom enters your body. To be safe, simply don’t touch them. Black and Green Poison Dart Frogs, which are about the size of a silver dollar, feature spectacular neon-green-and-black swirls over their entire bodies. They are truly unmistakable in the wild.
Also referred to as a Strawberry Dart Frog, Blue-Jean Frogs feature fire-red heads and bodies, and legs that fade from blue to purple. They are common in humid lowlands and premontane forests, and typically move along the forest floor with jittery, change-of-direction hops. Blue-Jean Frogs often let out a series of three chirps, and they rarely measure more than 2 inches in length. In souvenir stores throughout the country you’ll see images, photos, paintings, shirts, towels and a lot of other items featuring the mesmerizing Blue-Jeans Frog.
A typical Glass Frog is olive green or bright green and reaches a maximum of about 3 inches in adulthood. No big deal, right? Not so fast, my friend. Glass Frogs get their name from a translucent undercarriage that allows gawkers to see their heart, liver and internal organs by simply getting lower than the frog. How cool is that! A fan of eating spiders, Glass Frogs live, on average, 10 to 14 years in the wild.
Like Blue-Jean Frogs, Tree Frogs are pretty much national symbols in Costa Rica. Similar in build and looks to a Glass Frog, Tree Frogs are distinguished by large eyes that are located on the side of their heads (as opposed forward-facing eyes in a Glass Frog). When you see a bright green frog with big, bulging red eyes where its ears should be, that’s a Tree Frog. Their skin can be brown or grayish, too, but the ones with the red eyes are the most popular. Tree Frogs naturally spend most of their lives in trees or high-growing vegetation.
Smoky Jungle Frog
Blending in can be difficult, unless you’re a Smoky Jungle Frog. Their black-and-tan skin mixes in seamlessly with discolored leaves and a muddy forest floor. This conspicuousness allows Smoky Jungle Frogs to close in on their prey with great ease. Perhaps hunting is too easy, as Smokey Jungle Frogs are some of the largest frogs you’ll come across, but only if you’re paying close attention.