The search for “fitzies” comes to a conclusion

A cat-eyed snake (Leptodeira annulata) eating a Tungara frog (Engystomops pustulosus)

A cat-eyed snake (Leptodeira annulata) eating a Tungara frog (Engystomops pustulosus)

Last week we finally found the Fitzinger’s robber frogs (Craugastor fitzingeri) that we needed by splitting up one night and searching Gamboa in groups. The other interns and I searched by Experimental Pond and found only one fitzingeri. The mosquitoes were absolutely horrendous for me and bit me all over my ears, face, neck and forearms until I was all swollen, red and itchy (just for the record, mosquitoes in Panama usually are not that bad). Near Experimental Pond, we also saw a cat-eyed snake (Leptodeira annulata) eating a Tungara frog (Engystomops pustulosus). Cat-eyed snakes are significant predators of frogs and their eggs in Central America. I am finding that any time I explore an area with lots of frogs breeding or calling, either a cat-eyed snake or spaghetti vine snake (Imantodes sp.) is not far away.

I digress. Despite my group’s lack of success with catching fitzingeri, the lab managed to catch 22 total Craugastor fitzingeri thanks to the efforts of Myra and her husband, Justin Touchon, in Kwanzit Ditch. The ditch is apparently the best site in Gamboa for fitzies, but it is currently being used by the Tungara people in Dr. Mike Ryan’s lab. That is why we did not originally have access to it. Unfortunately, although a good number of Craugastor were caught, several died within the first 36 hours of being captured. They are apparently more sensitive to temperature changes or to stress than either the hourglass treefrog (Dendropsophus ebraccatus) or the red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas). It remains to be seen if they are also more sensitive to infection by Bd.

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