The gliding leaf frog (Agalychnis spurrelli) is also known as the gliding tree frog or Spurrell’s leaf frog. This little frog is one of five Agalychnis species living in South and Central America. Their populations are decreasing, but not at a rate fast enough to consider them threatened or endangered.
Gliding leaf frogs grow to 3 or 4 inches in length, with the females being slightly larger than the males. They may grow larger in some habitats than others; for example, Panamanian specimens are reportedly larger than those in Costa Rica. The gliding leaf frog’s colors change from a light yellowish green during the day to a darker green at night. Most of these frogs also have a number of black-bordered white spots on their backs. They have deep red eyes and fully-webbed feet with large toe pads.
Range and Habitat
These arboreal frogs inhabit tropical and subtropical wetlands in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Panama. They prefer lowland swampy areas from sea level to 2,900 feet. They spend their days sleeping high in trees, using their broad toe pads to attach themselves to leaves.
Diet and Behavior
The night-active gliding leaf frog gets its name from its ability to glide from branch to branch in the rainforest canopy. These frogs spread their webbed toes wide apart parallel to the ground. The webbing acts as a sort of parachute, keeping them aloft as they leap from tree to tree in search of food. Carnivorous gliding leaf frogs, like other Agalychnis species, ambush crickets, flies and moths.
In Central America, the rainy season occurs from May to October, and gliding leaf frogs breed explosively after a heavy rain. The males call to the females from rainwater pools below, and breeding occurs there. Females lay clutches of 14 to 67 eggs on nearby leaves, and tadpoles hatch in less than a week. The tadpoles develop in the water, floating vertically with only their heads exposed.
Jennifer Mueller began writing and editing professionally in 1995, when she became sports editor of her university's newspaper while also writing a bi-monthly general interest column for an independent tourist publication. Mueller holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a Juris Doctor from Indiana University Maurer School of Law.