Spiny-headed Tree Frog

(Anotheca spinosa)


Spiny-headed Tree Frog IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

Size from 68 mm (males) to 80 mm (females). This frog is unmistakable with sharp pointed projections on the head and a huge tympanum. It is light brown with darker brown markings with a black belly and flanks bordered with white. It is a nocturnal and arboreal species, which is difficult to find. The male attracts the female by calling from treeholes or bamboo internodes containing water or from bromeliads. Eggs are laid into a treehole during daytime. The fertilized eggs are attached to the wall of the container or on the leaves of bromeliads just above the surface of the water.


Male and female leave the container and the male may return and mate again with the female or may occupy another container and start calling again. 50-300 eggs are laid at a time. But only 1-25 white larvae hatch after 6-7 days. Then the female returns and lays another 10-30 unfertilized eggs over the next 14 days, which provide food for the tadpoles. If a second clutch of fertilized eggs are laid, the subsequent larvae disappear within two days, apparently eaten by their older siblings. After 60-132 days 1-16 metamorphose.

Did you know?
The call is a loud "boop-boop-boop" and can be heard up to 100 m away?


Name (Scientific) Anotheca spinosa
Name (English) Spiny-headed Tree Frog
Name (French) Rainette épineuse
Name (German) Kronen-Baumfrosch
Name (Spanish) Rana-de árbol coronada
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
© Gerald Dick



Range Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama
Habitat This species is found as fragmented populations, living in lowland rainforests and montane humid forests from 95 to 2000 m asl.
Wild population In Costa Rica, this has always been a rarely seen species, but its call can be heard regularly in the appropriate habitat. Although several populations are known in Mexico, these are completely disjunctive and it seems that the species has been extirpated from one or two locations. In fact it has been found only once in the last 30 years in Mexico. In Honduras, it is known only from two specimens and there are no recent data from Panama. The most important threats to it are disturbance, clearance and transformation of its original habitat, arising from small-holder farming and subsistence-level gathering of wood. Protection and restoration of the vegetation coverage is a way to protect the microhabitat of this species.The population trend is decreasing (Red List IUCN 2012).
Zoo population 2 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

Spiny-headed Tree 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
© Josiah H. Townsend

Why do zoos keep this animal

Neotropical frogs are threatened by habitat distruction, disease and other factors. Zoos and aquariums keeping these species want to build up reserve populations and to raise awareness of the global amphibian crisis. Several zoos have also linked their ex situ activities with involvement in in situ conservation.