Frog of the Week

Clown Frog (Atelopus varius)

photo by Brian Gratwicke

Common Name: Clown Frog, Costa Rican Variable Harlequin Toad
Scientific Name: Atelopus varius
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad Family
Location: Colombia, Costa Rica, and Panama
Size: 1.6 inches (41 mm) for males, 2.3 inches (60 mm) for females

The Clown Frog or the Costa Rican Variable Harlequin Toad is a small toad from the family Bufonidae or the True Toad family. The family is found naturally throughout the world besides Australia and the Cane Toads (Rhinella marinus) have been found there. It is from the genus Atelopus, known as the Harlequin Toads / Frogs or Stubfoot Toad.

The Clown Frog has bright colors, which is how they get their name, to warn predators that they are toxic. They are a diurnal species, active during the day, because no predators will try to eat them. They have no predators besides a species of fly that lay eggs on the frogs that burrow into the frog and eat it from the inside out.

The Clown Frog and most other Harlequin Toads are in extreme danger of becoming extinct. The primary cause of the decline is the spread of Chytrid Fungus, a deadly fungal pathogen.  Conservationists have taken the species into captivity to save them.

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