Under Threat – The Panamanian Golden Frog

The Panamanian Golden Frog is a Critically Endangered species of frog that is natively found in the tropical rainforests of Panama, often close to a fast-flowing water source. It is because of this noise close-by that these frogs often communicate between one another by waving their limbs (a form of semaphore), making them quite unique.

A close-up side profile of a Panamanian Golden Frog with vegetation in the background.
The Panamanian Golden Frog is a Critically Endangered species that is natively found in the tropical rainforests of Panama.

Despite still being technically listed as a Critically Endangered species, the Panamanian Golden Frog has not been seen in the wild since 2007, when it was filmed as part of a BBC nature series involving David Attenborough. Many now consider the Panamanian Golden Frog to be extinct in the wild, with a small population still found in zoos around the world.

A Panamanian Golden Frog perched on a broad leaf.
While many believe the Panamanian Golden Frog to be extinct in the wild, a small population can still be found in zoos around the world.

Historically, the Panamanian Golden Frog would have been found in varying habitats both wet and dry, which interestingly enough led to individuals in wetter regions being almost double the size of those found in drier conditions. As with a number of other frog and toad species, female Panamanian Golden Frogs are much larger and heavier than their male counterparts.

Even though the black-flecked, bright yellow skin of this animal is smooth and despite it’s name, the Panamanian Golden Frog is actually a member of the toad family. In the same way as other frog and toad species in the tropics, the yellow skin of this animal acts as a warning sign to predators that they are poisonous and capable of secreting toxic substances from their skin.

A Panamanian Golden Frog balancing on a grass-like plant.
The yellow skin of the Panamanian Golden Frog is a defense mechanism against predators.

The primary cause for the severe demise in wild populations of the Panamanian Golden Frog is thought to be down to fungal infection which rapidly spreads throughout amphibian populations. Other factors including habitat loss in the form of deforestation and increasing levels of both water and air pollution are thought to have added to the situation, leading to the loss of this species in the wild.

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