Costa Rica 2013, Part 4.

Before we get to frogs and others, I want to talk about a couple other things.

One, our hotel in San Jose didn’t have a door. No door. As a New Yorker I can’t wrap my mind around that because we don’t have seasons, we have SEASONS!!!! With the cold and the hot and the rain and the sun and the hail and the sleet, etc. San Jose just has hot, not quite as hot and some rain. It was still dumbfounding for me. “But… how do they… close the door if they don’t have… I… my head hurts.”

Two, a comment about trees and language barriers. Our daily tour-guides spoke a great English, but often it was covered in a thick paste of local accent. There was only one time I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what our guide was saying. We went by a wooded park in San Jose that was filled with rainbow eucalyptus. They are very beautiful. The trunks look like watercolor paintings.

Our guide said, “This park has rainbow eucalyptus but the city plans to cut them down because they are an introduced species. The city plans to replace them with a species native to Costa Rica. Also, they are very tall and dangerous because of the LYYYYYYYYYNE.” I swear to God, that’s what she said. I said, “Ummm, what now?” and the guide responded with, “The LYYYYYYYYYNE, from the sky.” Finally she said the combination of “Thunder and LYYYYYYYYYNE,” and I was like, “Oh, lightning. Okay.” But it took a while. If you see me, ask me to do an imitation of how she said it and you tell me if you have any clue what I’m saying. I bet you’ll say no.

Frogs! Costa Rica has 138 types of frogs and toads. I went to a protected rainforest that had a chart of the difference between frogs and toads, which I found very helpful. I wrote down what it said:

  • Toads tend to lay their eggs in long chains. Frogs tend to lay their mass of eggs in clusters.
  • Toads tend to have skin that is dry, rough and full of wrinkles. Frogs tend to have moist skin that is soft to the touch.
  • Toads use short hops to get around. Frogs tend to move about with giant leaps.

I saw what was some kind of tree frog, but the camouflage was amazing. It was right in front of me, like in front of my face, and I still had trouble seeing it. It looks like a wet blob of leaf. Amazing.

Similar-but-different frog.

The frogs I saw the most were the poison dart frogs. As it says in my The Wildlife of Costa Rica book:

Small, diurnal frogs that inhabit leaf litter. Noted for spectacular coloration and elaborate forms of parental care. The brightly colored species generally advertise powerful skin toxins derived from a diet of alkaloid-rich invertebrates. None of the eight Costa Rican poison dart frogs pose a threat to humans.

The poison dart frog that’s actually used for poison darts is the Golden Poison Dart Frog from Colombia. One frog can kill you and nine of your closest friends. Scientists don’t know how they get so venomous but they assume it’s from what they eat, same as the Costa Rican ones, because Golden Poison Dart Frogs raised in captivity and fed non-native bugs aren’t toxic.

I saw a ton of the strawberry kind. They’re neat because sometimes they’re tomato-colored, sometimes cherry-colored. Sometimes they’re just red, sometimes they have little black freckles, sometimes their legs are blue. I liked all the varieties.

And I saw a ton of the green and black striped kind. They’re a little bit bigger. They are the only frog with carnivorous tadpoles. They hatch in the leaf litter, and then the daddy carries them up into little pools of water in the trees, water trapped in the hearts of bromeliads. This part is cool. In order to keep them from eating each other (carnivorous), he calls out and lady-frogs come from neighboring villages, climb the trees and lay unfertilized eggs in the water. That way, the wee tadpoles have something to eat without committing fratricide. Nature – it’s fantastic.

Cows! I love hot-weather cows, the kind from India. In Costa Rica they are called Zebu and I think they are so pretty. We were driving past a hillside and I insisted we stop because there was a calf there with lop-ears like a bunny. I was smitten. As you will see from its expression, it was not nearly as infatuated with me.

Toucans! I forgot to bring them up yesterday. At the refuge there was another giant atrium that had rescued toucans. They were accostumed to humans so if you held a little birdseed, they would come down and perch on you for a bit. The ones that came and perched were Keel-Billed Toucans. This was a woman who was with us on our tour.

And then there’s me! I really liked the toucans. They are sweet and gentle and not rowdy at all.

There was a Chestnut-Mandibled Toucan:

And at one point this little guy hopped over and stared right at me for a while. He’s a Emerald Toucanet.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about my nature walk. Yes, yours truly walked on a trail for two miles through a rainforest. The things I do for cool animals.

One Response to “Costa Rica 2013, Part 4.”

  1. snorth says:

    srsly, that toucan looks like a puppet. Toucanhands!!

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