Monday, August 22, 2011

The Red Frog

Endemic. Unique. One of a kind. Only found in one area.  One island.  Today we're going to the area known as Bocas Del Toro!  But specifically to the island known as Bastimentos.  I'll write about this island tomorrow, but today it's all about the red frog!
The province of Bocas Del Toro has several large and many smaller islands that are surrounded by the Caribbean waters.  It is one of the top areas for tourists, naturalists, and the indigenous communities of the Ngöbe-Buglé.  And guess what?  The Smithsonian also has a research station on one of their own islands studying these amphibians:)
These little guys were all over the place chirping and hopping on trees, rocks, and hanging out in bromeliads where they were laying eggs or fertilizing them.  It was really amazing to see so many frogs around one area.  This strawberry red frog is endemic to Bastimentos.  In fact each of the islands in the archipelago of Bocas Del Toro has its own colored frog which ranges from a gold color, blue color, red body with blue legs, etc.  You see, on Bastimentos, the red frog is symbolic.  There is even a beach with the name Red Frog where drunk people and surfers reside.  Before you cross the bridge onto this beach, you'll find several local kids with red frogs in their hands.  Traveller tip from Rohrer.  Do not encourage these kids to do this.  They will show you the frog and then expect you to pay them a quarter.  Many times these kids will remove the frogs from their natural area, and being that they(the males) are extremely territorial, will have a difficult time readjusting to being released somewhere else.....if they even survive with all the handling that they have to endure all day long.  Please don't encourage this behavior if you go and visit.  PLUS Red Frog Beach is a tourist trap unless you are going there to surf.  Luckily we weren't on that part of the island...just passing through:)  For a frog that is supposedly toxic, you have to wonder:)
Red poison-dart frog (Dendrobates pumilio)
 In Arizona, we have several frogs and toads, but it's not everyday you get to see them.  All we had to do is step out of our cabin and within a few steps, there would be several hopping around.  It is my hope that this island takes better care of itself as tourism has carelessly carved a chunk of land from the pristine rain forest that still covers most of it.  The recession put an end to the construction happening at the resort leaving only a few homes near the Red Frog Beach instead of several hundred as had been originally planned.
The Bastimentos color morph of Dendrobates pumilio or "Bastis" typically comes in three morphs, being either red, yellow, or white, with black spots on the back and legs. They are all found together on Isla Bastimentos in Panama, and have been reported to be true breeding to a certain degree, despite the ease of mixing with varieties.  The most important part is that they have the plants to lay their eggs.  Bromeliads found around the rain forest all contained at least one of these beautiful red frogs.
                                 
They eat smaller anthropods like formicine ants and other tiny insects. If you head to Bastimentos or other islands in the Bocas del Toro province, keep your eyes open for these colorful gems.  Below is a video I snapped from a trail.  More on Bastimentos tomorrow....
video

5 comments:

  1. I have never seen a red frog, and a strawberry coloured one too! Bastimentos sounds like a beautiful island. I am glad that you are encouraging responsible tourism.

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  2. Chris,
    These are very cool, never heard of them. Thanks for sharing the photos and bio.

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  3. This is such a beautiful frog. Interesting that its color changes... I visited a reptilian and amphibian enclosure recently. Don't remember seeing such a frog.

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