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Red-eyed tree frog facts for kids

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For the Australian species also known as the red-eyed treefrog, see Ranoidea chloris
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red eye tree frog
Red eyed tree frog.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Red-eyed Treefrog Agalychnis callidryas distribution map.png
Red-eyed Treefrog range
Red-eyed Treefrog Agalychnis callidryas distribution map 3.png
Larger scale
  • Agalychnis callidryas ssp. taylori Funkhouser, 1957
  • Agalychnis helenae Cope, 1885
  • Agalychnis callidryas ssp. callidryas (Cope, 1862)
  • Hyla callidryas Cope, 1862
  • Phyllomedusa callidryas (Cope, 1862)
  • Phyllomedusa helenae (Cope, 1885)

Agalychnis callidryas, known as the red-eyed treefrog, is an arboreal hylid native to Neotropical rainforests where it ranges from Mexico, through Central America, to Colombia. It is sometimes kept in captivity. The scientific name of the red-eyed treefrog, A. callidryas, comes from Greek words kalos (beautiful) and dryas (a tree or wood nymph).


Red-eyed tree frog Costa Rica
A specimen in Costa Rica.

This species has large, bright red eyes with vertically narrowed pupils. The red eyed tree frog is very colorful, with a vibrant green body, yellow and blue vertical stripes along its side, a white underside, and brightly colored orange or red feet. Additionally, they have sticky pads on their toes that allow them to cling onto leaves . The skin on the red-eyed treefrog's belly is soft and fragile, whereas the back is thicker and rougher. On average, the males are about two inches long, and the females are slightly bigger at around 3 inches.

Distribution and habitat

Red-eyed treefrogs inhabit areas near rivers and ponds in rainforests and humid lowlands on the Atlantic slopes from southern Veracruz and northern Oaxaca in Mexico, to central Panama and northern Colombia. They also live on the Pacific slope in southwestern Nicaragua and southwestern Costa Rica to eastern Panama. The optimum temperature for red-eyed treefrogs is 24–29 °C (75–84 °F) in the daytime, and 19–25 °C (66–77 °F) at night. Agalychnis callidryas also require high humidity levels of at least 80%. '


Red-eyed Tree Frog (Agalychnis callidryas) (6941089388)
Image of the nictitating membrane seen in Red Eyed Tree Frogs

Phyllomedusine treefrogs are arboreal, meaning they spend a majority of their lives in trees; they are excellent jumpers. Despite their bright coloring, red-eyed treefrogs are actually not poisonous, and rely on camouflage to protect themselves. They are nocturnal, sleeping for most of the day. In order to hide from predators, they cover their blue sides with their back legs, tuck their bright feet under their bellies, and shut their red eyes. Thus, they appear almost completely green, and well hidden among the foliage. They do not have a true eyelid, but rather a Nictitating membrane that allows light to enter the eye so that they will awaken when predators are approaching. Their large red eyes not only aid in their ability to see at night, but also serve as a defensive adaptation through deimatic behaviour. When a red-eyed treefrog detects an approaching predator, it abruptly opens its eyes and stares at the predator. The sudden appearance of the red eyes may startle the predator, giving the frog a chance to flee.


Red-eyed treefrogs are insectivores, eating crickets, moths, grasshoppers, flies, and other insects. Sometimes, they eat smaller frogs. Tadpoles mostly eat fruit flies and pinhead crickets.


RedEyesFrogs Mating (
Red-eyed treefrogs in axillary amplexus

The female chooses a leaf above a pond or large puddle on which to lay her clutch of roughly 40 eggs. Since oviposition generally occurs on both sides of a leaf, red-eyed treefrogs may fold the leaf to hide the eggs from predators. They also produce sticky jelly to glue the eggs together; this may protect the eggs from splitting and dehydration.

The eggs develop into tadpoles, which hatch after six to seven days and fall into the water below. Red eyed tree frog embryos use natural day and night light cycles as a signal for when to hatch, and tend to hatch just after nightfall. Red-eyed treefrog eggs may hatch early (exhibiting phenotypic plasticity) when a change in the environment signals a danger to their survival. Dragonflies, fish, and water beetles prey on the tadpoles. The tadpoles remain in the water from three weeks to several months, until they metamorphose into frogs. The time of metamorphosis depends on duration of larval stage, which varies depending on environment. After metamorphosis, the color of tadpoles' torsos changes from green to brown, and their eyes, which are initially yellow, turn into deep red without much side patterning. These changes mark maturity. The lifespan of red-eyed treefrogs is about five years.

Young frogs that survive the first few weeks after metamorphosis move into the undergrowth and security of plants near their natal pools, often into the hollows of tubular plants such as bromeliads. Young frogs prey on very small flies and other insects during the first months of their lives. The young mature after two years and begin mating at the age of three to four years. These treefrogs are known to live up to five years (data from captive-breeding programs), depending on the health and conditions of their habitat (when aided by abundant plant growth, plenty of fresh water, and an abundance of small and larger insects on which to prey).

They sometimes breed successfully in captivity if kept in high-humidity vivaria (e.g., by using misting equipment), tropical plants such as Bromelia and other epiphyte plants, together with well-aerated water pools. Their captive habitat should have a light cycle with 11–12 hours of daylight and an average day temperature of 26–28 °C (79–82 °F) and night-time averages of is 22–25 °C (72–77 °F). Simulating a rainy season once a year in November to December encourages reproduction.

Phenotypic plasticity

Agalychnis callidryas - camouflage mode
Specimen in camouflage mode

Red-eyed treefrogs' embryos exhibit phenotypic plasticity, hatching early in response to disturbance to protect themselves. Though embryos are bred synchronously, they normally hatch after 6 to 10 days from oviposition without disturbance. However, a simultaneously early hatching in entire clutches is triggered when embryos are exposed to their predators or threatening environmental changes such as rainstorm and flood. Early hatching has also been linked with egg dehydration, hatching earlier in dry egg clutches than in wet ones.

Predators are the major cause of this response. Since these frogs usually lay eggs on both the upper and the undersides of leaves above ponds, clutches need to protect themselves against arboreal, aerial and aquatic predators, such as snakes, dragonflies, fish, monkeys, and pathogenic fungi. When predators are close enough to produce detectable vibration, the embryos assess disturbance. After a few seconds, embryos vigorously hatch out into tadpoles and spread out to escape. Since eggs are usually laid above ponds, the response improves survival because tadpoles often fall into water on hatching. When tadpoles fall onto dry ground, they can survive up to 20 hours without water. However, vibration and disturbance caused by unthreatening environmental changes or other species do not induce early hatching.


The species is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN due to its wide distribution and presumed large populations; it is also present in a large number of protected areas throughout its range. Pressures on the red-eyed treefrog include habitat loss through deforestation, and some collection for the pet trade.

Agalychnis callidryas at night
A. callidryas at night
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