Wild Fact #115 – Climate Change is Nothing to Laugh At – Clown Frog

Clown Frog

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Okay, so the real name for today’s featured animal is actually the Costa Rican Variable Harlequin Toad but you have to admit it is a lot easier and a lot more fun just to call them the Clown Frog.

Cool Stuff You Might Like to Know!

  • Unfortunately this stunning frog, which once roamed from Costa Rica all the way to Panama has since been confined to one local population in Costa Rica, so it probably isn’t a surprise to learn the Clown Frog is Critically Endangered.
  • Unlike your typical frogs, the Costa Rican Variable Harlequin Toad (not really a toad) spends most of their time hanging out in the trees and will only go to the water during mating season (or to lay their eggs)
  • Interestingly enough, these little frogs are slow moving amphibians (I know, I always remember trying to catch frogs and they all seemed quick to me…but not this one). As a result of the slow nature, they typically stay in one spot for long periods of time

Why Is The Clown Frog So Colourful?

The intense colours of the Costa Rican Variable Harlequin Toad should give you a hint about whether or not you should touch these animals. Okay, I will give you a bigger hint – don’t touch these frogs. Why? Because the colours are warning you that they are poisonous. That’s right, these tiny frogs contain a neurotoxin and while I couldn’t find any records of these frogs hurting humans, I wouldn’t want to be the first.

Costa Rican Variable Harlequin Toad

Photo by Brian Gratwicke (Wikipedia)

Not The Nicest Predator

You would think that if you were filled with a poisonous neurotoxin that you would be safe from dangerous predators, right? Nope! The Parasitic Sarcophagid Fly is known to be the only predator of this beautiful but poisonous amphibian. As the name of this predators suggests, they are indeed parasitic,which means these flies will lay their eggs on the unsuspecting Clown Frog. These eggs will eventually hatch, which leads to a bunch of tiny larvae feeding on the poor Costa Rican Variable Harlequin Toad.

A Climate Problem

While this parasitic fly doesn’t help the population of this amazing frog species, it isn’t responsible for their sharp decline. Instead, this frog has been listed as Critically Endangered because of climate change, more specifically increased air temperatures and changes to the precipitation pattern. I guess we can add the Clown Frog to the ever-growing list of animals being impacted by climate change. When will we get our act together and start seriously addressing this issue?

One Response

  1. Steve Levine 4 years ago

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