Red Eye Tree Frog in forest
Red Eye Tree Frog in forest

Costa Rica is bursting with more biodiversity than you'll know what to do with. Trust me, I bump into rowdy reptiles and amiable amphibians each day. In fact, as many as 180 species of amphibians are scattered throughout the country. There are a few things you should know to track down red-eyed tree (leaf) frogs like me. First off, you have to be in the right place.

Habitat

Some of the best regions to spot amphibians are in the lowland rainforests of Tortuguero National Park, Arenal Volcano National Park and in the cooler regions of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. We tend to hide in the treetops in moist and wet forest, so look for us here. Though tree frogs can climb as high as 1,200 meters, we typically stay at low elevations. Don't be afraid to get wet! You can take a guided tour where your leader will point out all sorts of amphibians.

Biology

As the mascot of Costa Rica, the red-eyed tree frogs can be spotted throughout the country. Although my mom always used to tell me to go to bed early, I would respond that it's against my nature. As nocturnal carnivores, we work best at night. Our diets consists of crickets, moths and other insects - if you see a lot of bugs in one area, chances are a few of my cousins will be feasting there come nightfall! During the rainy season, red-eyed leaf frogs are more active, making trips to breeding ponds once the sun goes down.

Did you known that the word amphibian comes from the Greek word meaning "a being with a double life?". This is because amphibians have two stages of development: the larval and adult stages. While our initial phase starts in water, we're best seen as adults. We're pretty small compared to humans, so you'll have to keep a close eye to catch a glimpse of us. Usually, adult females are around 51 to 71 millimeters big, which is the twice the size of males, at 30 to 59 millimeters.

Javi the Frog with its cousin at La Paz Waterfall Garden
Javi the Frog with its cousin at La Paz Waterfall Garden

Appearance

The most striking characteristic of my kind is our bright red eyes. This vivid color is meant to startle potential predators, such as snakes and birds. Sometimes, I open my eyes super wide to scare black velvet snakes just for a moment so I have time to escape! When I need to rest, I sleep on my white belly, keeping my bright hands and thighs folded out of sight. As you might've guessed, my lime green body coloring makes me camouflaged into leaves where I spend most of the day. In fact, my frog friends and I hardly descend to the ground. Our feet are equipped with tiny suctions that enable us to move easily along branches and leaves. We're great jumpers, too! If the Olympics ever came to Costa Rica, I'd probably win the high jump.

Blue Jeans poison frog in La Paz Waterfall Garden
Blue Jeans poison frog in La Paz Waterfall Garden

Frog Tours

To ensure you and your traveling party will see frogs, it is recommended that you take a frog tour. The area of Sarapiqui, located in the Caribbean slopes of Costa Rica, is home to almost half of all amphibians found in the country. Frog tours begin at 7:30 p.m., walking through forest with a trained kind, who will share the natural history of different species you'll encounter. It lasts two hours.

At Arenal Oasis Frog Sanctuary, visitors discover a unique rainforest observatory that houses 28 different species of frogs. The walk will take you along flat trails through noisy forests. The activity starts at 5:45 p.m. at Arenal Oasis.

Another excellent option is Drake Bay Night Tour. Biologist Tracie Stice and naturalist Gianfranco Gomez will be your guides, who will point out gaudy leaf frogs, praying mantis, casque-headed lizard and more. The tour takes place nightly from 7:30 to 10:00 p.m.

Have you been on a frog tour? What was your experience like?

Beautiful Red Eye Tree Frog
Beautiful Red Eye Tree Frog