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Agalychnis spurrelli Boulenger 1913

Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)

Common name

Gliding Leaf Frog, Gliding Treefrog, Spurrell's Leaf Frog


The extensive webbing on the hands and feet of Agalychnis spurrelli can act as a parachute, helping slow and lengthen their descent (Scott and Starrett 1974). For an excellent picture of this behavior, see Savage (2002).



Species description based on Ibanez et al (1999), Duellman (2001) and Savage (2002). Large treefrog. Males to 75.6 mm, females to 92.8 mm. Individuals from Panama are much larger than individuals from Costa Rica.


Dorsum green and smooth, often with white spots bordered by black.


Ventral surface white to yellow, and granular.

Concealed surfaces

Flanks and thighs yellow to orange in color.


Iris deep red. Pupil vertical. Lower membrane reticulated with greenish gold.


Hands and feet fully webbed with large terminal toe pads.

Life history

Breeding season

Agalychnis spurrelli breeds in pools and water-filled cavities in logs. Males call from branches above the water. This species breeds explosively after heavy rains, when incredibly large numbers of individuals congregate at a breeding site (Scott and Starrett 1974).


Clutches of eggs with a distinct, rather thick rubbery-looking membrane are deposited in a single layer on the upper surfaces of leaves (Scott and Starrett 1974). Eggs hatch in approximately 6 days (Scott and Starrett 1974), but can hatch as early as 3-4 days if they experience disturbance such as flooding (Gomez-Mestre and Warkentin 2007).


Tadpole olive brown dorsally, bluish grey laterally, and pale blue-grey below (Duellman 1970). The posterior portion of the body and the tail often have dark brown markings (Duellman 1970). Tadpoles develop in water. Tadpoles orient themselves in the water column at a 45 degree angle with their heads facing upwards (Duellman 1970).

Metamorph juvenile

Metamorphs have green dorsums (with or without spots) and white venters (Duellman 1970).

Ecology behavior and evolution


In many species of leaf-breeding frogs, including A. spurrelli, there is a period of days during which embryos are capable of hatching. Embryos remain in the egg longer if undisturbed than if disturbed by a predator or flooding. However, the ability of A. spurrelli to escape hatch during snake attacks and flooding is limited compared to other species such as Agalychnis callidryas (Gomez-Mestre and Warkentin 2007, Gomez-Mestre et al 2008). Helminth parasites have been found in the intestine and bladder of A. spurrelli (Goldberg and Bursey 2008).


A single, low-pitched groan (Duellman 1970). Scott and Starrett (1974) mentioned a second "wuk, wuk, wuk" call that was most likely an aggressive call.

Behavior and communication

Males have been observed scraping eggs off of leaves with their hind feet (Scott and Starrett 1974).

Taxonomy and systematics


  • Kingdom:Animalia
    • Phylum:Chordata


Boulenger 1913


Agalychnis litodryas, Phyllomedusa litodryas, Phyllomedusa spurrelli


Named after Dr. HGF Spurrell, who collected the type specimens in Columbia.

Type locality

"Peria Lisa, Condoto, Choco Province, Colombia"

Habitat and distribution


Lowland rainforest [from sea level] to 885 m (Duellman 1970).


Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama


Agalychnis spurrelli distribution
Distrubution map (IUCN)


Boulenger, G.A. 1913. A collection of batrachians and reptiles made by Dr. H.G.F. Spurrel, F.Z.S., in the Choco, Colombia. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London: 1019-1038.

Duellman, WE. 1970. The Hylid Frogs of Middle America. Monographs of the Museum of Natural History University of Kansas.

Duellman, WE. 2001. The Hylid Frogs of Middle America. 2nd ed. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Ithaca, New York.

Faivovich, J, CFB Haddad, D Baeta, K Jungfer, GFR Alvares, RA Brandao, C Sheil, LS Barrientos, CL Barrio-Amoro, CAG Cruz, and WC Wheeler. 2009. The phylogenetic relationships of the charismatic poster frogs, Phyllomedusinae (Anura, Hylidae). Cladistics 25: 1–35.

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

Gomez-Mestre, I , JJ Wiens and KM Warkentin. 2008. Evolution of adaptive plasticity: risk-sensitive hatching in neotropical treefrogs. Ecological Monographs 78(2): 205-224.

Gomez-Mestre, I and KM Warkentin. 2007. To hatch and hatch not: similar selective trade-offs but different responses to egg predators in two closely related, syntopic treefrogs. Oecologia 153(1): 197-206.

Gray, AR. 1997. Observations on the biology of Agalychnis spurrelli from the Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica. Observaciones sobre la biología de Agalychnis spurrelli de las tierras bajas del caribe de Costa Rica. Journal of the International Herpetological Society 22(2): 61-70.

Howland, HC, M Howland, A Giunta and TW Cronin. 1997. Corneal curvatures and refractions of central American frogs. Vision Research37(2): 169-174.

Ibañez, R, AS Rand, and CA Jaramillo. 1999. Los anfibios del Monumento Natural Barro Colorado, Parque Nacional Soberanía y areas adyacentes. Mizrachi, E. and Pujol, S.A., Santa Fe de Bogota.

Ibáñez, R, F Solís, C Jaramillo, and S Rand. 2000. An overwiew of the herpetology of Panama. In: Johnson, JD, RG Webb, and OA Flores-Villela. Eds. Mesoamerican Herpetology: Systematics, Zoogeography and Conservation. The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, Texas.

Kubicki, B and T Facio-Fernández. 2004. Ranas de hoja de Costa Rica. Leaf-frogs of Costa Rica. Editorial Santo Domingo de Heredia, Editorial INBio, CR.

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

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

Ortega-Andrade, HM. 2008. Agalychnis spurrelli Boulenger (Anura, Hylidae): variacion, distribucion y sinonimia. Papéis Avulsos de Zoologia (São Paulo) 48: 103–117.

Ruiz-Carranza, PM, MC Ardila-Robayo, and JD Lynch. 1996. Lista actualizada de la fauna de Amphibia de Colombia. Revista de la Academia Colombiana de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales 20: 365-415.

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

Scott, NJ and A Starrett. 1974. An unusual breeding aggregation of frogs, with notes on the ecology of Agalychnis spurrelli (Anura: Hylidae). Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences 73(2): 86-94.

Wiens, JJ, CH Graham, DS Moen, SA Smith, and TW Reeder 2006. Evolutionary and ecological causes of the latitudinal diversity gradient in Hylid frogs: Treefrog trees unearth the roots of high tropical diversity. American Naturalist 168: 579–596.

Wiens, JJ, JW Fetzner Jr., CL Parkinson and TW Reeder. 2005. Hylid frog phylogeny and sampling strategies for speciose clades. Systematic Biology 54(5): 778-807.