The search for the green Granuliferus in Costa Rica
In 2006 I was in Costa Rica with some dutch friends. To find this frog we started early in the morning from Quepos at the west coast of Costa Rica with car. We had a description from an Canadian guy where whe should be able to find these animals and we did more or less think that if we could follow that description it would probably lead us to the frog we searched for. It would soon show out that the name of the place we where heading for didn't show on our maps and no one of the people in the villages around where we thought the road should be could help us out until we asked at a police station. It showed out that we had passed the road we should take, just because it was going right into a huge palmtree plantage. We thought this was a road for maintaining the palmtrees but obviously we where wrong.
When we finally where on the right road it was easy to follow the road description. Everything showed out to be exactly as described until we where supposed to come to an old farm. What farm? We couldn't find any farm at this place, but we did find some burned down buildings. Was this the old farm that our Canadian friend had told us about? Time to ask again even though it's not easy when you don't speak spannish. The local people where not knowing anything about the frog we wanted to see, not even when we showed them pictures. Was this it? Did our Canadian friend really fool us or mabie the local people didn't knew about these frogs just because they didn't care?
We decided to continue with the car a bit longer at the road but it would show that it stopped into a river. We walked out of the car into a wonderful area that didn't exactly look like the habitat of granuliferus, but who knows? We walked out of the car and walked upstream the river a few Km. Along this way we discovered several species of animals that was very nice. In the river there where hundereds of some kind of tadpoles in the shallow river. We found tiny toads along the river and lots of diffrent anolis lizards and also some beutiful insects around us, and then I didn't mean the mosquitos. After looking around in this area for a while we decided that it was time to give up if we where thinking of finding granuliferus of this area before it was to warm and late in the day.
All of us where very disappointed of this and started to think about where to go to get a chance to see the frog we wanted to see. Was it to late at day? I guess time was about 10-10.30am and it was starting to get really hot. We even decided to go to 'Rainmaker' and ask what a tour costed. After having arrived to 'Rainmaker' and asked them about costs for a tour (and the price was about $85 per person) we decided that this was way to expensive since we wouldn't be able to find anything at this time of the day. If we had arrived there earlier it could had been okay, but no way that we payed this when almost half the day was gone. We where a little low at this point and disappointed for not having succeeded to find what we where seaching for, but decided to continue our search and just try to find a place that looked like the habitat we seached for.
We took the car and just drove along tiny roads north of Quepos and walked out of the car as soon as we did find river that we could walk upstream in and we did see many lizzards and other animals but still no granuliferus. We decided to follow the dirt road we already had started to drive into. We where driving quite a bit at that road and it was wonderful nature around us with sharp green mountains around us. Finally we came to a dead end where everything looked way to dry and it was hot like a desert. We turned the car around and I was pulling down my window. -What was that sound? Schhhhh, turn off the car!!! There was a pumilio like call out there. Everyone flew out of the car and the driver had to try to park the car somewhere along this dangerous piece of road where we where above a ravine down to a river about 20-30 meters below us on the right side while the left side was a small forested area around a totally dried out river bed. We followed the sound of the call and noticed that it was at least more than one frog calling. When we finally found the first frogs it was a pair of very yellow granuliferus below the roots of a large old tree. The river had probably digged out the dirt around the roots and it was a perfect hideout for them but I was very surprised that it could be so dry here. It showed out that it was almost impossible to get close to this shy frog and we where not able to photograph it since it was hiding close to a wasp nest. After about 20 minutes of teamwork we finally found some more granuliferus and could take some photos. I am still amazed that the frog is so yellow in coloration. The frogs we found here where also quite large compared to the population of red granuliferus I had seen earlier.
Snakes eating poisonous frogs?
One of my dutch friends was leaving us for a couple of minutes to go and get his water bottle in the car. When he was comming to the car he did hear a call from granuliferus in the bushes behind and above the car. He decided to go there and try to find it and after some minutes he did find the frog but he discovered that he had come between a Bothriechis schlegelii, or Bocaracá as it is called here also, that was hunting granuliferus and was quite scared to get bitten. We where all surprised later on when he told us since we didn't thought it was healthy for a snake to eat poison dart frogs, but when we went there after a while we could see it with our own eyes. The beutiful bush viper was actually hunting the granuliferus, but probably without knowing that it was a really bad idea.
Those beutiful but deadly little pit vipers can really have amazing colors. We saw yellow, yellow with darker markings, grey/green and this green/red but they also occour in red, brown and even pink. They are relatively small with a normal adult length of about 75cm with females being the largest individuals.
Since this was the last day before three of us where going back to Europe it felt like a good end of the story to have found this beutiful frog and have taken some nice photos of it. We did celebrate with a beer (Imperial ofcourse) in the pool and a walk along the beach, just relaxing for the rest of the afternoon. The three of us would notice that it would be an adventure to get back to the airport to get home, but thats another story.
Photos and article: Copyright @ Dennis Nilsson