The Costa Rican Variable Harlequin Toad (Atelopus Varius)

Harlequin Toad Pink

This unusual frog, known as ‘Costa Rican Variable Harlequin Toad (Atelopus varius)’ hails from the staggering, sluggish and sedative land of ‘Costa Rica’ and pristine Panama is sure to lure any princess to kiss it even if there were no promises of a prince charming made by this fascinating frog. Anybody would find it difficult to take their eyes off from these enthralling species as its alluring and spectacular colors seem like another artistic masterpiece of God.

Who is Costa Rican Variable Harlequin Toad (Dendrobates auratus)?

Harlequin Toad green

It belongs from the kingdom of Animalia and is an amphibian coming from the family of Bufonidae. It is classified in the genus ranks in biology and is simply known as ‘Dendrobates auratus’. It acquired a second famous name- Clown frog or Harlequin because of its flamboyant, elegant and designer prints on it, which makes it look like a frog wearing an outlandish neon costume.

Where are they found?

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History marked its presence in the areas stretching from Pacific and Atlantic hills of Cordilleras de Tilaran mountain ranges in Costa Rica into western Panama. Their prominence was seen in both pre-montane and lower-montane zones. Their habitat has also been noticed in small tributaries and rocky streams on Pacific coastal range near Quepos, Costa Rica.

Surprising Facts about Costa Rican Variable Harlequin Toad (Atelopus varius)

  • These frogs are stubborn enough not to enter the water until they are going through breeding seasons.
    For moisture, they mostly rely on the splashes coming from the stream sides.
  • They are lethargic and slothful. They are often seen in the same area for a long period of time.
  • Their miraculous aposematic coloration helps them in warning their potential predators of its toxicity.
  • Their main source of food is arthopods.
  • A parasite known as sarcophagid fly (Notochaeta bufonivora) thrives on this frog’s thighs. Soon after it deposits its larvae on it, the larvae proceeds to burrow inside and then later eats it from within.
  • Recently crabs have been observed as one of the few predators attempting to prey on this frog.
  • They visually communicate with their fellow partners by the means of ‘foot-flagging’ behavior.
  • In order to attract mates or defend many territories they are likely to use their forearms and actually ‘wave’ their hands.
  • Because they stay in noisy environments like streams and waterfalls, they tend to make deep croaking sounds along with unusual display of actions, which mostly includes emphasizing on skin color change.


Climatic changes have accounted to rapid decline of these frogs. A drop in their population has been witnessed due to an outbreak of pathogenic chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. They are the pathogens which get transmitted through shed skins and later result in mortality. There has been 80% reduction in its population, and this drastic decline has become a cause of concern. Destruction of natural forests and predation of introduced trout is another reasons attributing to its endangerment.

Efforts have been consistently shown to minimize the problems of extinction. The conservation efforts consist of genetic studies; habitat protection and micro-climate monitoring have been put into practice. Although, many evidence shows an active and stable population of this species, the prognosis of it is quiet uncertain.

3 comments… add one

  • Josiah October 31, 2014, 4:34 pm

    I think you could have given more information on this amazing toad. The pictures are nice though, especially the first one.

  • JP October 10, 2013, 4:22 am

    The second one is my image. It is not an Atelopus, but Dendrobates auratus.

  • José August 2, 2013, 2:46 pm

    The first image is not real. This Computer check.
    See link:

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