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Agalychnis spurrelli Boulenger, (1913)

Spurrell´s monkey frog (Coloma, L. A., S. Ron. 2001.Coloma L. A., J. M. Guayasamin 2011–2014)




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  Hylidae: Agalychnis spurrelli  

Boulenger, G. A. 1913. A collection of batrachians and reptiles made by Dr. H. G. F. Spurrel, F. Z. S., in the Choco, Colombia. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1913:1019–1038.

Hylidae: Agalychnis spurrelli   Hylidae: Agalychnis spurrelli   Hylidae: Agalychnis spurrelli   Hylidae: Agalychnis spurrelli   Hylidae: Agalychnis spurrelli   Hylidae: Agalychnis spurrelli   Hylidae: Agalychnis spurrelli
  Borde 1


It is distributed from the lowlands of southern Costa Rica to central-western Ecuador.

Altitudinal zones: Western Tropical (0–885 m).

Ecoregions: Bosques húmedos occidente. Se encuentra en las provincias de: Esmeraldas, Los Ríos, Manabí, Pichincha.

The type locality is "1 km west-southwest of the junction of the Río Mono and the Río Tuira, Darién Province, Panamá, elevation 130 m." (BM 1947.2.24.24-25 (antes 1913.11.12.129-130)).


Habitat and biology

It is a nocturnal tree frog species of tropical rainforests. It moves into the canopy (especially in the dry season) climbing branches and vines, although it is a generalista in the use of vertical substrates available in the habitat. Frogs glide to skydive. While glidding they extend legs and hands so that they can be seen throughout its length. During the downfall it can be kept at a 45° angle, it can also rotate. Groups of this species are commonly found in both natural and artificial small pools, and streams surrounded by bush vegetation associated with the upper strata of the forest, from which descend to reproduce. Also they are found in primary and secondary forests and intervened areas with some bushes and water bodies. In Laguna del Diablo (province of Esmeraldas, Ecuador) it was stimated population sizes of 1400–6852 adult individuals for a sample area of about 2400 square meters. Reproduction is explosive and occurs in permanent or temporary pools formed by rain in times of storms. The explosive reproduction and many simultaneous placement of clutches can be a survival strategy used by this species, rather than the premature hatching of larvae, to counteract predation. Males are territorial, coexist at an average distance of 40–50 cm or more, and have a high fidelity to vocalization sites. Vocalizing males were found perching on branches of trees and shrubs 1–3 meters off the ground. The amplexus is axillary and amplexus periods occur between 19h00 and 23h00, while oviposition takes place between 04h00 and 08h00. They lay their eggs in gelatinous masses attached to leaves, vines, branches or trunks suspended over the water and around streams, ponds or wetlands, although it has also been reported using flooded cavities in logs. In the Osa Peninsula (Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica), in August 1970, there was a congregation of 13,000 breeding individuals in an artificial pond. When the tadpoles hatch, they drop to the water in the pools below. Literally, the masses of tadpoles drip from the foliage. Most clutches are laid between 1.5 and 3 m above the puddle; however, some clutches were found until 8 m off the ground. Egg masses are generally deposited on the upper side of the leaves. In 14 counts of egg production, these contained between 14 and 67 eggs. Males have been observed removing eggs from the leaves with rotational movements of the feet. A leave 30 x 11 cm contained a concentration of 533 eggs in its upper part, and 83 on the underside, that is a total of 616 eggs on a leaf. Hatching occurs after eight days, then the tadpoles fall into the water. Development is estimated that lasts two-three months (between February and April in the Laguna del Diablo, Ecuador). The metamorphs begin their ascent to the middle and upper strata of the forest just after emerging from the water. The presence of trees in their habitat may be a limiting factor, because most part of the year they prefer the upper strata of the forest, and only descending to breed. In Colombia a level of mortality of 25% ocurred because Leptodeira and ants predation, or fungal infection. In water the tadpoles are preyed on by Astyanax fish. The snake Leptodeira septentrionalis is one of their main predators, especially of eggs and juveniles. Birds such as the Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio porphyrio) eats their eggs, while kingfishers guy (Chloroceryle americana) eat tadpoles. The song is a simple and weak "groan" repeated at intervals from 4 seconds to several minutes. (Scott & Starrett 1974, Roberts 1994, Gray 1997, Duellman 2001, Savage 2002, Vargas et al. 2000, Vargas y Gutiérrez 2005, Gómez-Mestre y Warkentin 2007, Ortega- Andrade 2008, Ortega-Andrade et al. 2010a, Ortega-Andrade et al. 2010b, Ortega-Andrade et al. 2011).



Phylogeny (Faivovich et al. 2010). See synonyms and taxonomic comments on Frost (2002–año actual). Faivovich et al. (2005), Wiens et al. (2005), Wiens et al. (2006), Moen y Wiens (2008), Gomez-Mestre et al. (2008) y Faivovich et al. (2010) provided hypotheses of their phylogenetic relationships using morphological and molecular characters. According to the latest hypotheses the gliding tree frog is the sister taxon of A. callidryas and (A. annae + A. moreletti).

Duellman (1970), Duellman (2001), Duellman y Trueb (1967) provide morphological data, photographs and illustrations (under the names A. spurrelli and A. litodryas ).

Savage (2002) publishes a diagnosis, and describes characters of adults and tadpoles. Vargas y Gutiérrez-Cárdenas (2005) describe the embryonic and tadpole development from a site in Colombia. Ortega-Andrade (2008) redescribed the species with data on morphological variation in its total distribution range. He includes photographs (adults, juveniles, eggs), illustrations of the foot and new locality data.

Its color changes (metacrosis); during day is usually green while the night is dark reddish brown or dark green. Its color also varies ontogenetically, especially the color of the iris and ventral. The eggs are pigmented with green. Males have nuptial pads with tiny spicules on the dorsal region of the inner finger.


Conservation Status

Apéndix II in CITES. Near Threathened according to Ortega-Andrade (2008).

In Ecuador occupies a range of 19,550 square kms (Ortega-Andrade 2008). This species is abundant in a localized manner. Ortega-Andrade et al. (2011) provide population data. Their biggest threats are deforestation for agricultural development (especially oil palm and cocoa plantations), logging, mining, introduction of exotic species, human settlements, pollution, and illegal trade. Known locations in Ecuador face considerable human pressure. According to Ortega-Andrade et al. (2011) effects of fragmentation and habitat loss are still unknown on populations throughout its range. Due to the accelerated reduction of vegetation cover, forest conversion to pasture and habitat fragmentation around places like La Laguna del Diablo (Esmeraldas province) and generally in northwestern Ecuador, the future of the population of A. spurrelli in Laguna Diablo is uncertain. The impact of chytridiomycosis in wild populations is unknown. Agalychnis spurrelli was listed in CITES under Appendix II (on March 21, 2010). In the 2010s, only the United States of America imported 221.960 Agalychnis frogs, according to the Species Survival Network (SSN). Ortega-Andrade et al. (2011) recommend its management. Its reproduction and management in situ and ex situ have been successful and since 2011 is part of the biocommerce program of the company Wikiri.

In Ecuador it has been recorded from the following public and private protected areas: Reserva Ecológica Cotacachi-Cayapas, Estación Biológica Bilsa, Reserva Biológica Canandé, Reserva Biológica Ayampe.


Additional information

Scott y Starrett (1974), Roberts (1994) y Gray (1997) provide notes of biology, ecology and natural history of populations in Central America. Vargas et al. (2000) published observations (from a population of Colombia) reproductive peaks, territoriality, amplexus behavior, oviposition, selection of site position, characteristics of nests and predation. Stuart et al. (2008) provide a photograph, distribution map, and data on population, habitat and ecology, threats, conservation, taxonomic notes and references. Ortega- Andrade (2008) presents an analysis of the song (recorded in Ecuador), including an oscillogram and spectrogram. Vega y Robertson (2009) provide distribution data in Costa Rica. Ortega-Andrade et al. (2010a), Ortega-Andrade et al. (2010b), Ortega-Andrade et al. (2011) published photographs, population data, habitat, interspecific relationships, predation in a population from Ecaudor, and an account. Köhler (2011) provides a key, a map and photograph.

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