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Arboreal oviposition


Between the months of October and March the red-eyed tree frogs go through the act of reproduction we all know as sex. Here is a brief illustration of how red-eyed tree frogs mate:

“Fore play”

In order to attract female frogs the male frogs call out from branches and leaves above ponds (the red-eyed tree frog's mating site) in the rainy season of Middle America (October through March). The male frogs sit in the tree leaves and make a single or double noted “cluck” noise about every 8-10 seconds. The male frogs will begin to ‘quiver' at the height of the mating song and may even jump from leaf to leaf inflating their vocal sacs and rising up on all fours to make themselves appear larger and heavier in order to show intimidate other frogs from obtaining their territory. If one of the male frogs makes a movement towards another male frog's territory a sort of wrestling match occurs in which the males will climb on top of one another and attempt to pin the other one down.

The female, hearing all the commotion and seeing the males wrestle, becomes interested and comes out of hiding. Once the female comes out of hiding the males attempt to be the first one to jump onto her back and fight for the best position to hang on to her back.

“Getting it on!”

The male will grasp the female so that he is dorsal to her with his forelimbs around the female frog's waist with his forelimbs over her forelimbs. Once the female has a male securely attached to her back, otherwise known as the arboreal oviposition or amplexus, the female descends into the pond below them where she takes water into her bladder. She then climbs up onto a leaf which hangs over the pond and releases a clutch of 11-78 eggs, releasing water over them so that the eggs will not dry out. The female is able to lay about 3-4 clutches per night but must re-fill her bladder with water between each clutch.


The eggs that the female lays are approximately 2.25 mm in size and are a greenish color with a clear gelatinous outer coating. After about 5-11 days the eggs hatch and slide off the leaf over hanging the pond into the water. The young red-eyed tree frogs will stay in the tadpole stage for approximately 40-60 days and are filter feeders, eating mainly algae.

After the marine tadpole stage the young, now terrestrial tree frogs, are a greenish color with round pupils and yellow irises. The tree frog will develop its famous elliptical pupils and red irises about three weeks after becoming terrestrial.

The males are sexually active after about a year when they develop horny nuptial excrescences on their thumbs. After that first year the frogs are ready and more than willing to reproduce and can live up to about 5 years of age.

(Click here to see Red-Eyed Tree Frog life cycle.)



Eggs with developing tadpoles of the red-eyed tree frog _costa_rica_the_night_tour.htm