Amphibians on Display

The Garden has an active amphibian conservation program including live displays in the Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Conservatory. The mission of the program is to promote the conservation of amphibians through education, research and in situ conservation.

Lemur Leaf Frogs of Costa Rica

This display may appear empty, but sleeping Lemur Frogs (Agalychnis lemur) are camouflaged on the undersides of the leaves. These critically endangered amphibians have special relationships with plants throughout their lives. They sleep beneath leaves, travel across vines, find food drawn to plants and hang their eggs on leaves extending over water. When the tadpoles hatch, they fall down into the water.

Blue Frogs of South America

The Dyeing Poison Frog (Dendrobates tinctorius) gets its name from unconfirmed legends of indigenous peoples using its poison as a red dye. This species occurs in different color patterns called “morphs.” This bright blue morph, “Azureus,” was considered a separate species (Dendrobates azureus) prior to DNA analysis. Bright colors warn would-be predators that these frogs can release toxins from their skin that are distasteful and can paralyze or even kill small predators.

Golden Frogs of Panama

This exhibit features the deadliest frog in the world, the Golden Poison Frog (Phyllobates terribilis) of Colombia. While many frogs are called “Dart Frogs”, only frogs of this genus were ever used to poison the tips of blowgun darts. The sources of their toxins are not fully understood, but part of the puzzle is their diet of wild ants and beetles that eat poisonous plants. Golden Poison Frogs are raised here on fruit flies and crickets that consume North American vegetables, so they contain no toxins.

Frogs of Panama

The Frogs of Panama exhibit contains the offspring of frogs rescued from an outbreak of the deadly amphibian Chytrid fungus in the highlands of central Panama in 2005. It contains three species, each of which has adaptations to protect their eggs and young. The Crowned Tree Frog (Anotheca spinosa) breeds in treeholes where the mother remains with the tadpoles for months, feeding them unfertilized eggs. The Green Spiny Toad (Incilius coniferus) is useful for research at the Garden and elsewhere because of their tendency to lay hundreds of eggs in one day, allowing scientists to set up meaningful comparisons between groups of individuals with the same age and parents. Pratt’s Rocket Frog (Colostethus pratti) lays its eggs in the leaf litter and carries the tadpoles on their backs when they are ready to move to streams.

Frogs of the Amazon Basin

Fringed Leaf Frogs (Cruziohyla craspedopus) are only known to live in scattered small areas, but are so quiet and hard to find that scientists suspect they live more broadly across the Amazon Basin. Very little is known about Fringed Leaf Frogs because they live high in the tree canopy and rarely, if ever, come to the ground. The Garden is successfully breeding them in captivity and contributing to the overall knowledge of their reproductive requirements and behaviors. Mimic Poison Frogs (Ranitomeya imitator) are much smaller than their tankmates. Their bright colors are like a Halloween costume; these harmless little frogs dress up like Poison Frogs to trick would-be predators into thinking they are dangerous. Look for these tiny orange frogs tucked between the leaves of the cup-shaped bromeliad plants.