Trivia Tuesday: Panamanian Golden Frogs

golden frog
Courtesy of the Maryland Zoo

Happy belated Panamanian Golden Frog Day! In 2010, the government of Panama officially designated August 14 as National Golden Frog Day. For a slightly delayed celebration we talked to Vicky Poole of the National Aquarium - Baltimore, who coordinates the breeding program for these frogs in North American zoos and aquariums.

  • Golden frogs are a national symbol of Panama, their equivalent of the bald eagle in the United States.
  • Despite their sleek good looks, the golden frog is actually a member of the toad family. Similar to other toad species, golden frogs lay their eggs in long strings.
  • Their bright color tells predators that they are toxic. The skin of a single frog contains enough toxins to kill over a thousand mice.
  • Panamanian golden frogs use semaphore: they wave their arms to communicate, beckoning to a potential mate or warning others away from the territory.
  • In mating season the male frog climbs onto the female's back and hangs on until she lays her eggs. The male frog does not eat while on the female; sometimes up to three months.
  • According to legend, seeing a golden frog brings good luck, and when they die they turn into gold pieces called huacas. Sure, no one believes this kind of thing nowadays ... but just in case, there are pictures of golden frogs on Panamanian lottery tickets.
  • Sadly, the frog's own luck has not been very good. The species is believed to be extinct in the wild, victims of a disease called the amphibian chytrid fungus that is affecting amphibians worldwide.
  • But there's still hope! They are being successfully bred in zoos and aquariums with the hopes that offspring of these animals will be reintroduced back into the wilds of Panama one day.

 Want to learn more? Check out Project Golden Frog.

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