Smilisca are medium to large frogs usually distinguished by paired vocal sacs but their drab coloring and sometimes banded markings can make identifying juveniles and/or females a little difficult, especially when compared to some other hylids. Members of this genus tend to have bluish to purple or brown coloring around the thighs and groins, which should help differentiate Smilisca from other hylids. Otherwise, Smilisca are mostly defined by their skull morphology and musculature. They tend to lay their eggs in pools, puddles, and depressions and the tadpoles are free swimming generalists. In Rara Avis, Costa Rica, S. phaeota tadpoles are frequently found in the large tractor tire depressions in the muddy roads. There they seem to survive very harsh conditions and are a common sight. During nights, especially when it’s wet, the adults are easily found sitting around the road ready to breed. The other species found at Rara Avis is the drab treefrog, S. sordida, and just downslope from the mountains towards the coast, one can find S. puma in the lowlands. I have also seen S. sila in Corcovado National Park in southwestern Costa Rica. So, if you haven’t heard of them before, you know have been introduced to Smilisca.
Two views of the drab treefrog, Smilisca sordida, from Rara Avis, Costa Rica, photographed in 2009.
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