Frogs of Nosara

Around 400 million years ago, frogs (which had only relatively recently split off from fish) became the first species to walk on land. Aeons later, they still divide their time between the land and water. Costa Rica is home to one of the worlds most diverse range of these amphibians.

The following is a list of frogs you may see in and around Nosara.

Rain Frog

These guys live all over Costa Rica and can be found at low to middle elevations. Like many Central American frogs, they have large pads on the end of each finger, which act as suction cups enabling them to climb. Usually, most of these species are no bigger than 2-3 cm. However, one variant (the smoky jungle frog) can measure up to 15 cm. It’s not widely known that this commonly spotted frog actually contains a potent neurotoxin named leptodactylin. The only way for this compound to be harmful to humans is if it enters the body through an open wound or mucous membrane. If this happens it will mess up the nervous system and block neuromuscular activity. Generally though, these frogs are safe to touch.

rain frog nosara

Tree Frog

These guys are distinguishable by their huge eyes, long snouts and large heads. Although they spend the vast majority of their lives in trees, they can often be spotted hopping around the lower branches. They usually vary in length between 3-8 cm. In regard to markings, tree frogs come in many different variants. Most often, they are standard green, brown and black. However, some of them (particularly the poisonous ones) can be very brightly colored. Although tree frogs have skinny looking legs they are capable jumpers. Like rain frogs, they come equipped with large suction pads on their fingers, enabling them to climb easily among trees and vertical structures.

This group includes the famed red eyed tree frog, which you’ll see adorning the pages of lots of the Costa Rican tourist and cultural literature.

tree frog nosara

Glass Frog

Glass frogs are native to Central America, and are distinguishable by their large suction pads, translucent green color, and one kind of glass frog has an uncanny resemblance to Kermit the frog. Amazingly, if you hold one of these frogs to the light, its thin skin allows you to see right through its body, and even observe its heartbeat.

Glass frogs are generally small, measuring only between 3-7 cm. Apart from the translucent skin of their underbody, they are a rich green color. They live along rivers and streams during the breeding season, and are particularly diverse in the mountain cloud forests of Central and South America. The eggs are usually deposited on the leaves of trees or shrubs hanging over the running water of mountain streams, creeks, and small rivers.

glass frog nosara

Poison Dart Frog

Although it’s possible, the chance you’ll come across one of these in and around Nosara is minimal. These tiny frogs come in a huge range of radiant colors and live in the humid lowlands of Costa Rica and Guanacaste. Their name comes from the powerful poison contained in their skin that native tribes would use for poison on their arrows. To extract the poison they would simply rub the arrows on their backs. When shot at whatever unfortunate creature was being hunted, the poison would enter the bloodstream and cause paralysis. It’s said the reason these frogs produce such strong poisons is that their diet consists mainly of ants. Reportedly, the frogs imbibe formic acids, which is processed into the poison. Costa Rican poison dart frogs are highly toxic. However, like rain frogs, the only way for this compound to be harmful to humans is if it enters the body through an open wound or mucous membrane. If that happens, consider yourself in very deep trouble.

poison dart frog nosara


The Costa Rican toad (bufo marinus) is a terrestrial frog subgroup that is distinguishable by thicker, drier skin (enabling it to live on land), wart like glands over its body, and the plain fact that these things can grow around twenty times the size of regular frogs. Often, they can be heard before they are seen, usually at night, when they gather together to sing a mating chorus that sounds suspiciously like a lot of humans laughing in unison.

Their poison glands are located on the back on their head, and release a toxic substance that can prove deadly for certain animals. The common toad has been identified as the reason for the deaths of many domestic pet dogs in Costa Rica. Although these toads may look like a harmless chew toy, it’s only after paralysis rapidly sets in the dog realizes it picked on the wrong amphibian. Death follows very shortly thereafter.

toad nosara

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Skip to toolbar