Golden Frog

(Atelopus zeteki)




Facts about this animal

The Golden Frog is a small toad-like frog. The length is 35-40 mm in males and 45-55 mm in females. Both sexes are similarly coloured: golden yellow or orange above and below, with black spots on the back, the sides and the head or with three transverse black bands. Young specimens show normally an X-shaped dark mark beginning on the upper eyelid, a single or double snout-spot, a broad dark band across the middle of the body; a spot on the elbow and a wristband, and dark bands on the thigh, knee, shin, heel, tarsus and toes. The species lives in tropical forest, where it can often be found on the ground, but it also climbs into the trees. It is mainly active in the daytime when it hunts insects, spiders, millipeds and other small invertebrates. To protect itself from its enemies its skin secretes the nerve-poison Tetrodotoxin. At the beginning of the rainy season the males attract the females with their calls. Each male grasps a female and – sitting on its back – „rides“ to the water body where the female lays its eggs, to mix them with its sperm. Interestingly only the female leaves the egg-laying site, while the male takes care of the clutch. It defends “its” puddle of water during three to four weeks against all other frogs. When the tadpoles hatch after this time, it carries its young, if the need arises (e. g. when the puddle threatens to dry out) to another water body.

Did you know?
The humidity in Panamas primeval forest during the rainy season in summer is so high that the Golden frog during its evolution became completely independent from permanent water bodies as basis for reproduction and the development of the tadpoles: It chooses as “nurseries” wholes in branches, or trees, filled with water or other small temporary puddles.This beautiful frog was named after the American insect scientists James Zetek (1886 - 1959).Pre-Colombian indigenous peoples of the distant past considered the golden frog as revered. They crafted gold and clay talismans in a variety of forms known to contemporary Panamanians as huacas/huacos. Caches of buried huacas are sought and unearthed by fervid amateur archeologists called huaqueros and are sold at exorbitant prices to collectors of antiquities.


Name (Scientific) Atelopus zeteki
Name (English) Golden Frog
Name (French) Grenouille dorée du Panama
Name (German) Panama-Stummelfussfrosch
Name (Spanish) Rana dorada
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
© Gerald Dick and Valerie Abbott (Thumbnail)



Range Panama
Habitat Tropical Mountain forests with a lot of rainfall in an altitude of 335 to 1315 m asl.
Wild population In recent years, populations have been declining catastrophically due to chytridiomycosis, and the well-known El Copé population collapsed and disappeared over a few months in late 2004. The chytridiomycosis epidemic is spreading from west to east through Panama, and populations in the eastern part of its range are now at severe risk of disappearance. This species has declined in numbers by over 80% over the past decade, most likely due to chytridiomycosis (2008) (Amphibiaweb 2012).The deforestation of habitat for both agriculture and general infrastructure development, water pollution, and over collection for the pet trade are also threats to this species. The population trend is decreasing (Red List IUCN 2012)
Zoo population 1342 reported to ISIS (2006)

In the Zoo

Golden Frog


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 45 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
© Dave Pape

Why do zoos keep this animal

The golden frog is critically endangered in the wild. In 1999, an international effort known as Project Golden Frog was launched to address declining populations of the species due to chytrid infection and collection for an illegal pet trade. As a result, a robust ex situ breeding population has been established by US zoos and aquariums, with the ultimate goal being to return to the wild these animals and/or their progeny.