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Prince Charming

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications

If you’re on the hunt for Prince Charming, I’m giving a fair warning to stay clear of Woodland Park Zoo’s frog friends on exhibit. These frogs may seem like prince potential, but don’t be so quick to give them a kiss!

The frog collection in the Day Exhibit is rather unique and houses more than eight amphibian species. Of these amphibians, many are native to rain forest regions of the world. The hourglass tree frog, red-eyed tree frog and green-and-black poison dart frog are among many amphibians living in the wet forests of Central America.

Yellow hourglass tree frog. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

A little, colorful frog that leaps along the Costa Rican and Colombian wetlands is the yellow hourglass tree frog. Throughout the dry season, this little frog lives among the trees of the towering forest canopy. The cool, wet rain forests provide constant moisture for its skin to absorb until the dry season ends. With the rainy season come small ponds for the hourglass tree frog to inhabit. 

Yellow hourglass tree frog. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

The hourglass tree frogs will mate once the rainy season begins, and the females will lay their eggs on shallow leaves hanging over the ponds. The eggs quickly develop into tadpoles, slide off the leaves into the water, and continue their growth into adulthood.

Much larger in size, but also native to the Central and South American forest canopy is the red-eyed tree frog. The bright, green body of the frog provides camouflage in the colorful rain forest landscape and shields it from lurking predators. Using its large webbed feet, the red-eyed tree frog hugs leaves for shelter and sleep. 

A red-eyed tree frog tucked in on a leaf. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

The threat of a predator awakens it, revealing its piercingly red eyes to its hunter. Although its vibrant eyes may have predators thinking twice about dinner, the red-eyed tree frog is not poisonous at all. It’s simply a mechanism to startle and deter frog-hungry predators.

Red-eyed tree frog shows us how it got its name. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Though, the same cannot be said for the poison dart frog because this animal is highly toxic. The poison dart frog stands out among the rain forest foliage. In fact, its bright hues of greens, blues, yellows, blacks and gold signal to predators that this frog is a great danger. Some species are among the most toxic animals on the planet! Research indicates that the poison dart frogs’ toxicity comes from its diet of ants, mites and other small invertebrates. At the zoo, we feed our dart frogs fruit flies and small crickets, and as a result they do not excrete toxins and their skin is harmless.

Poison dart frog. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Despite its intriguing colors and features, the poison dart frog in the wild should be admired only from a distance. So, if you think this little frog fellow might be your hopeful Prince Charming, you can frog-get it!