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Scientific Name:
Atelopus zeteki

Conservation Status:
Critically endangered

Where to see them:
World of Reptiles

Fun Facts:

Golden frogs produce toxins in their skin that make them noxious meals for predators.

Golden frogs are sexually dimorphic. The females of this species are up to twice the size of an average male.

Females deposit light-sensitive eggs. They hide their egg clutches in dark crevices under rocks to avoid exposing the developing eggs to light.

 

Panamanian golden frog

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Size
Males are 1.5 to 2 inches; females are 2 to 3 inches.

Range
Panama

Habitat
High elevation cloud and rain forests near freshwater streams

Lifestyle
Panamanian golden frogs live primarily near cool running streams in high elevation forests.  Males are highly territorial and stake out territories on rocks near the stream. The males use their territories to call for females and will defend their territory against other males. Males have been known to wrestle each other over prime territory in a stream. During the mating season, males attract females using their vocal calls and will attach to the back of a female in order to fertilize the eggs. Panamanian golden frogs do not exhibit parental care, and the male and female separate once an egg clutch has been deposited. 

Food
Panamanian golden frogs are insectivores. They feed on a wide variety of small invertebrates in the forests near their streams.   

Life Cycle
Mating occurs during the rainy season from November to December. Females return to the streams from the forest, where they are met by males who have laid claim to territories near the stream. Females deposit large clutches of eggs. The eggs are laid in long strands encased in a protective gel, and a single egg clutch can number as many as 900 eggs! The eggs are light- sensitive and are laid underwater in dark crevices. The eggs develop for a short span of two to six days. Tadpoles hatch out and feed on diatoms and algae found in the stream. Golden frogs remain in the tadpole stage for a period of 120-240 days when they emerge from the water as tiny frogs. There is not parental behavior observed in golden frogs. Offspring are left to fend for themselves. Large numbers perish before reaching adulthood. 

Some of My Neighbors (IN THE WILD)
Panamanian golden frogs share their habitat with a wide variety of other amphibians, reptiles and small mammals. 

Population Status & Threats
The number one threat to Panamanian golden frogs in the wild is habitat loss and other human activities such as illegal collection for the pet trade. Recently scientists have discovered a pathogenic fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis or the chytrid fungus, that is decimating many amphibian populations. Panamanian golden frogs have disappeared from a large portion of their native range. The threats from chytrid fungus and habitat loss motivated the creation of Project Golden Frog. 

Zoo Atlanta Conservation Efforts
Project Golden Frog is collaborative effort by several U.S. and Panamanian institutions to help protect the Panamanian golden frog through captive breeding. This effort has developed several initiatives, including but not limited to educational programs, captive breeding efforts, and field studies. The amphibian conservation projects have since expanded to include many more species besides the Panamanian golden frog. Zoo Atlanta was directly involved in creating a state-of-the-art amphibian facility in El Valle, Panama. The El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center (EVACC) serves as a breeding facility for many endangered Panamanian frogs. Zoo Atlanta is not directly involved in the golden frog project, but our collection does contain a group of these frogs. Zoo Atlanta is currently participating in conservation efforts to help save other critically endangered frogs from Panama.