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Smilisca sordida Peters 1863

Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)
Smilisca sordida
Adult Smilisca sordida

Common name

Veragua Cross-banded Frog



Species description based on Savage (2002). A large treefrog (males to 54 mm, females to 64 mm).


The dorsum may be one of many shades of brown, more yellowish, greenish, greyish, or reddish. Darker blotches are often present. The sides are mottled brown and cream. In some individuals, the cream of the flanks appears more green or blue. The arms and legs are barred. The skin of the dorsum is smooth.


The ventral surface is white.

Concealed surfaces

The rear surfaces of the thighs are dark with white or light or bold blue flecking or irregular spots.


Eye color varies, but black reticulations are always present. The eyes may be more silver, golden or bronze.

Life history

Breeding season

Breeding occurs during the dry season when streams are low (Savage 2002). Males call from rocks in streams (Savage 2002). Large numbers of females appear at streams after heavy rains (Savage 2002).


Eggs are deposited in clumps of 20-50 eggs in shallow pools (James 1944). They are laid singly, but adhere together after oviposition (James 1944).


Tadpoles are oval-shaped with a moderately long tail with moderate tail fins (Savage 2002). Tadpoles are pale in coloration (Savage 2002). A pattern of alternating light and reddish brown spots occurs along the upper part of the tail musculature (Savage 2002).

Ecology behavior and evolution


Smilisca sordida is typically encountered near streams, but may also be found hiding in bromeliads by day (Savage 2002).


A series of "wrinks" repeated up to six times (Savage 2002). The vocal sac is paired, but does not extend very far from the body when inflated (Savage 2002).

Taxonomy and systematics


  • Kingdom:Animalia
    • Phylum:Chordata


Peters 1863


Hyla gabbi, Hyla nigripes, Hyla salvini, Hyla sordida, Smilisca gabbi

Type locality

Veragua (Panama)

Habitat and distribution


Lowland and premontane forest to 1525 m.


Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama


Smilisca sordida distribution
Distrubution map (IUCN)


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Dehling, DM. 2007. Smilisca sordida (drab tree frog). Predation. Herpetological Review 38(4): 444.

Duellman, WE and L Trueb. 1966. Neotropical hylid frogs, genus Smilisca. University of Kansas Publications. Museum of Natural History 17: 281-375.

Duellman, WE. 1967. Courtship isolating mechanisms in Costa Rican hylid frogs. Herpetologica 23 (3): 169-183

Duellman, WE. 1968. Smilisca sordida. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles 64: 1-2.

Duellman, WE. 1970. The Hylid Frogs of Middle America. Volume 1. Monograph of the Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas 1: 1- 753.

Duellman, WE. 2001. The Hylid Frogs of Middle America. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Erspamer, V, GF Erspamer and JM Cei. 1986. Active peptides in the skins of two hundred and thirty American amphibian species. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part C: Comparative Pharmacology 85(1): 125-137.

Goldberg, SR and CR Bursey. 2008. Helminths from fifteen species of frogs (Anura, Hylidae) from Costa Rica. Phyllomedusa 7(1): 25-33

Heyer, WR. 1967. A herpetofaunal study of an ecological transect through the Cordillera de Tilarán, Costa Rica. Copeia 1967(2): 259-271

Lips, K and JM Savage. 1996. Key to the Known Tadpoles (Amphibia: Anura) of Costa Rica. Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment 31(1): 17-26

Malone, JH. 2004. Reproduction in Three Species of Smilisca from Costa Rica. Journal of Herpetology 38(1): 27-35.

Malone, JH. 2006. Ecology of the basin construction reproductive mode in Smilisca sordida (Anura: Hylidae). Journal of Herpetology 40(2): 230-239.

Martin, AA and GF Watson. 1971. Life history as an aid to generic delimitation in the family Hylidae. Copeia 1971(1): 78-89.

McCranie, JR and LD Wilson. 2002. The Amphibians of Honduras. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles Contributions to Herpetology 19: 1-625.

McCranie, JR. 2007. Distribution of the amphibians of Honduras by departments. Herpetological Review 38: 35-39

Peters, WCH. 1863. Fernere Mittheilungen über neue Batrachier. Monatsberichte der Königlichen Preussische Akademie des Wissenschaften zu Berlin 1863: 445-470.

Savage, JM. 2002. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica: A Herpetofauna between two Continents, between two Seas. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Smith, SA, A Saad, A Nieto Montes de Oca, and JJ Wiens. 2007. A phylogenetic hot spot for evolutionary novelty in Middle American treefrogs. Evolution 61(9): 2075–2085.

Starrett, PH. 1960. A redefinition of the genus Smilisca. Copeia 1960: 300-304

Sunyer, J, G Paiz, DM Dehling, and G Kohler. 2009. A collection of amphibians from Río San Juan, southeastern Nicaragua. Herpetology Notes 2: 189-202.

Wassersug, RJ. 1971. On the comparative palatability of some dry-season tadpoles from Costa Rica. American Midland Naturalist 86(1): 101-109.

Additional resources