The Red Frogs of Panama


Widespread but most diverse in Panama
The species is most diverse in Panama with varieties in vivid shades of all red, orange, blue, yellow or green, green and yellow, white with red, orange or black and spotted varieties. The most colorful mix is found in Isla Bastimentos Marine National Park though not all in one place. Colors vary by location. A beach on the north side of the island is named after the species. Two of Southern Explorations' Panama tours visit red frog habitat. Both the eight-day Panama Adventure trip and eleven-day Panama Highlights trip spend time in Isla Bastimentos Marine National Park and the former also goes to Red Frog Beach.

The red frog is not as poisonous as some of its cousins and is not a threat to humans. It subsists on a diet of ants that dine on poisonous plants, providing the red frog its protective skin toxin. Males attract females with a loud quick chirp. To hear the distinctive sound before you depart on your Panama tours, go to the University of Michigan Museum's biodiversity website ( After birth, the tadpoles climb aboard the mother who deposits them in different protected areas where she returns to nourish them by laying infertile eggs nearby until they are ready to swim off on their own.

A luxury resort on Isla Bastimentos called Red Frog Beach Club has conservationists alarmed due to its massive projected size and proximity to red frog habitat. To be built in twelve phases, the 1,700-acre development with three miles of beachfront will consist of two marinas, several restaurants, 250 single family residences, 550 condominium units and all the amenities such destinations offer. Panamanian law allows public access to all beaches, including those privately owned. Action Network, an on-line advocacy organization, is campaigning to stop or slow the resort's development. Some argue, however, that planned high-end tourism is more protective of the environment than ubiquitous tourism. You be the judge. For the conservationist side of the story go to You may read the developer's point of view at