Policy Conventions & Agreements - GlobalProtection for wildlife & habitats is preserved in global agreements
With their bright green bodies and bulging, forward-facing eyes, glass frogs bear a striking resemblance to Kermit the Frog. But being a Muppet lookalike isn’t the most fascinating thing about their appearance. If you look at certain glass frogs from underneath, you can see a skeleton, intestines and beating heart on full display through their semi-transparent belly skin.
These odd-looking amphibians are now targeted for the exotic pet trade and they urgently need our protection. Here’s everything you need to know about glass frogs.
what are glass frogs?
There are 158 known species of glass frogs, but that number fluctuates as people discover, study and formally describe more. Some are so little known that they only have Latin scientific names and no common names. Each of those species belong to the Centrolenidae family.
Glass frogs are hard to study, but from what we can tell, all known species eat insects, mate after it rains and use whistling as a mating call. Their calls, behaviours and looks differ slightly between species, though. Some glass frog species have spots or subtle stripes down their backs, and some species have white, gold or grey eyes.
When the males and females pair up, the female lays eggs, then the male fertilises and protects them until they hatch. Tadpoles fall into the water below the leaves.
Glass frogs are very small, weighing only 5 to 14 grams (0.2 to 0.5 ounces) each, depending on the species. Some could rest on the end of your finger.
where can I find a glass frog?
Glass frogs live exclusively in the humid forests of Central and South America. Sadly, most people will never see a glass frog in the wild. One reason is because they’re so tiny. Also, glass frogs are arboreal, meaning they live in trees, and spend most of their time near water. They hunt at night and hide motionless during the day—another reason why it’s so hard to find them. Because they are semi-transparent, glass frogs are also famously good at camouflage, blending into the undersides of leaves.
are glass frogs endangered?
Currently, approximately 50% of all glass frog species evaluated by the IUCN Red List are threatened with extinction. Within the Centrolenidae family, 10 species are classified as Critically Endangered, 28 are Endangered, and 21 are considered Vulnerable.
glass frogs as pets?
Some people, compelled by the strange beauty of glass frogs, keep these animals as pets. However, they require housing that is similar to their native environment and, like all exotic animals, specialised care. Glass frogs cannot thrive without a warm, wet environment like the one in which they are adapted to living.
Most glass frogs in the pet trade reportedly come from captive breeding programs, but some are taken from the wild. Glass frogs have been found hidden in shipments of animals exported from Central America to Europe. Additionally, United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Law Enforcement Management Information System (LEMIS) trade data and an analysis of online advertisements reported that over nine species of glass frogs are currently found in international trade.
In response, IFAW and other NGOs support increased restrictions on trade in glass frogs to minimize the impact of poaching and trafficking on these unique animals.
what other threats do glass frogs face?
In addition to their popularity in the global pet trade, glass frog species face several other threats. The expansion of agriculture, human settlement, logging and mining all lead to the loss and fragmentation of their habitat. Also, climate change is causing the forests where glass frogs live to become hotter and drier, decreasing the moisture that is critical to their survival.
what are people doing to protect glass frogs?
The trade in glass frogs for the pet trade may soon be better regulated thanks to conservation efforts from animal protection organizations.
CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is the international body that determines protection of more than 38,000 species around the world. Despite previous attempts, the upcoming 19th Conference of the Parties (CoP19) will again petition for increased protections for glass frogs.
Trade in glass frogs must be limited to legal and sustainable levels so as not to compound the other threats these animals already face. A CITES Appendix II listing would allow for an increase in data collection on many glass frog species, providing better insight into the demand and global trade network that exists but remains largely unstudied.
With the support of researchers concerned about how uncontrolled trade can affect wild populations, the governments of Costa Rica, Argentina, Panama, Brazil, Peru, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, United States, Gabon, Guinea, Niger, Togo and Côte d'Ivoire are requesting support to their proposal to include the Centrolenidae family in CITES Appendix II.
every problem has a solution, every solution needs support.
The problems we face are urgent, complicated, and resistant to change. Real solutions demand creativity, hard work and involvement from people like you.