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                      Poison Frogs and Snakes

Reptiles & Amphibians

Information about Rainforest Animals, Environment and Earth Science in Costa Rica


Rainforest Frog in Costa Rica
What is the difference between reptiles and amphibians?


The word "amphibians" contains "amphi" which means double or two sides. The "bians" part refers to "bio",which means life. Thus, the word points to the fact that amphibians lead a double life, which in their case means that they live both in water and on land (frogs, for example).

Rainforest Snake in Costa Rica

Reptiles, however, are restricted to living on land, since all throughout their lives they are air-breathing creatures; this fact doesn't limit their watery excursions, though.


Because of its climate and geographical variety as well as its strategic location, Costa Rica offers an immense variety of flora and fauna. Among the abundant fauna are 160 species of amphibians and 200 species of reptiles.


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Rainforest Frogs and Snakes

Among the Costa Rican amphibians, there are many species of frogs and toads. There are beautiful but extremely toxic frogs that display amazing colors as a natural warning against predators. At least twenty are poison arrow frogs, named because of the use of the toxins in arrows of some natives. One of these frogs is called the "bufo marinus" and it can squirt the poison as a fine mist or spray. Other frogs are completely harmless, like the tink frog which owes its name to the sound that it makes. §

Extinct Animals of Costa Rica

Extinct Golden Toad Sapo Dorado

Sapo Dorado - Golden Toad

The golden toad, discovered in 1964 in the Monteverde park, was only known to exist in this area. No one has sighted a Sapo Dorado since 1989, and it is believed to be extinct. The females are yellow, black and red, and the males are a golden-orange color, the reason for their name. A lot of the Costa Rican frogs are so specialized, they have learned to survive in the canopies of trees by using the water that's deposited in bromeliads and tree trunks. This way, they don't have to descend to the ground and risk being attacked by predators or of their tadpoles being eaten by fish. §

Venomous Snakes in Costa Rica

Fer de Lance Snake

Terciopelo or Fer-de-Lance   

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Poisonous Snakes of Costa Rica

Snakes are other exotic reptiles that are present in Costa Rica. They represent half of all of the reptile species in the country, but of 135 species of snakes, only 17 are poisonous. Snakes are present in almost all ecosystems in the area. The most common snakes are the boas, which can reach enormous proportions, but aren't poisonous. Among the poisonous snakes are: a type of rattlesnake, coral snakes (red, black and yellow or white stripes), and the "terciopelo" or fer-de-lance snake. Snakes, like crocodiles and caimans, are to be respected, but as long as people take certain precautions, they shouldn't be attacked by them. For example, hikers have to be careful about not holding on to "branches" without looking at them first.  §

Antivenom Research at UCR ThinkQuest: Frogs Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles