Do a web search for information on the Red-eyed Treefrog (Agalychnis calladryas) and you will find hundreds, if not thousands, of sites (many aimed at children) on the joys and techniques of keeping Red-eyed Treefrogs as pets. Will that change now that CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) added them toÂ Appendix II of their lists of concern at this year’s meeting in Qatar in March? CITES is usually pronounced sy-teez or sometimes cued as rhyming with nighties.
Appendix II species are not yet seriously endangered but conditions are such that it is a real possibility. The pet trade and wild captures from Central American countries have put these important amphibians at risk.
Red-eyed treefrogs are nocturnal, sleeping among the leaves during the day and hunting insects at night. During the mating season, males are easy to locate by their calls. Recent research done in Australia has determined that as well as vocalize and pose to display their brilliant colors, males will vibrate the vegetation. These vibrations appear to be communications of aggression and are quite common among competing males.
We met these little fellows with their multi-colored skins and bright red eyes at an ecolodge preserve in Costa Rica. Red-eyed treefrogs have three eyelids, of which a lower one is starting to creep over the eye of the one above. We were photographing them with the aid of handheld flashlights (torches) rather than camera flashes. This ecolodge requests that camera flashes not be used when photographing Red-eyed Treefrogs. So we learned how to do it will flashlights. When lights come on, the frogs go to sleep. This one had been fairly cooperative but the flashlight had been pointed in his direction long enough to make him think morning had arrived.
Getting critical focus and desired depth of field in the dark with the aid of a flashlight can be a challenge. Getting the photo composed and taken before the frog gets sleepy was another challenge. We did, however, make several ‘eye-catching’ images including this wide awake individual.