Description: The beautiful Red-eyed Tree Frog measures up to three inches in length. It is bright green above with bluish thighs and sides. It has white underparts and orange toes. The conspicuous eyes are bright red with vertical black pupils. The frog’s bright colors are used to startle predators and allow the frog a few seconds to escape until the predators adjusts to the color. These vivid colors produce a “ghost image” in the eyes of the predator that remains for several seconds even as the frog has already escaped. Red-eyed Tree Frogs are not poisonous. Lifespan is thought to be about five years in the wild.
Habitat/Range: Red-eyed Tree Frogs are found in tropical parts of the Western Hemisphere from Mexico to northern South America. They prefer to remain in the forest canopy and usually spend the day sleeping, stuck to the underside of a leaf where they hide their bright colors. They rarely descend to the ground.
Diet: Like many frogs, the Red-eyed Tree Frog is a voracious consumer of insects such as crickets, grasshoppers, flies, and moths. These frogs will occasionally eat smaller frogs.
Breeding: Males compete vigorously for females, often engaging in “wrestling matches” that end when one frog falls off of the branch. The winning male then mates with the female. Together, the pair go through amplexus, a process in which the male and female hang upside down from a leaf. As the female releases one egg at a time from the leaf, the male, which is on top of the female, fertilizes them before they drop into the water. The eggs hatch in a few days and the tadpoles live in the water before becoming frogletts.
Status: Populations are thought to be declining because of continuous habitat destruction. Nevertheless, this species remains fairly common and is an international symbol of rainforest preservation.