Wildlife Holiday News

Green Iguana

Panama's Reptiles and Amphibians

Tom MabbettBy This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Operations Manager
16th January 2020

We’re proud to be able to offer a rare opportunity to join world-renowned herpetologist, Dr. Andrew Durso, in pursuit of the incredible reptiles and amphibians of Panama. Staying at the magnificent Canopy Tower, one of the most unique and famous field lodges in the world, this tour is for anyone wanting to enjoy a wonderful cross section of Panama’s wildlife, while expanding their knowledge in another area of natural history.

In lush, green Panamanian forests, rich in spectacular floral and faunal biodiversity, a species which can easily fit in the palm of your hand hops along the forest floor searching attentively for tiny insects to feed on. This family of creatures, which have speciated spectacularly into every colour of the rainbow and are notoriously fantastic parents: the Poison Arrow Frogs. In Panama, parent Green-and-black Poison Arrow Frogs carefully move their tadpoles between water bodies, locating the best water quality for their offspring to thrive. Also calling this region home, Vicente’s Poison Arrow Frog goes a step further in their parental care; the mother deposits special nutritive eggs into her natal pool for their tadpoles to feed on, earning the species its scientific name of Oophaga, which means ‘egg-eating’.

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Panama – Reptiles and Amphibians
A rare and special opportunity to encounter the reptiles and amphibians of Panama's ...

Tree frogs here in Panama adopt a different strategy in their colouration. Rather than dazzling predators with gaudy colours to advertise that they’re poisonous, tree frogs are largely camouflaged. One group have advanced their camouflage to a new level; they are largely transparent – and thus are called the ‘glass frogs’. These fragile and otherwise defenceless beauties also have an interesting reproductive strategy for success – they lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves that overhang water sources. The tadpoles, still developing inside the egg, can sense would-be predators and are capable of hatching prematurely and dropping into the water, taking their chances in the pools and streams, away from terrestrial and arboreal predators.

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Canopy Tower

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Green-and-black Poison Arrow Frog

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Red-eyed Tree Frog

Amongst mossy-green boulders and fallen logs in these forests, female Yellow-spotted Night Lizards are capable of reproducing without males by cloning themselves, a phenomenon known as parthenogenesis, a real rarity in reptiles, especially those on the mainland. This lizard is also fascinatingly unusual in that it gives birth to live young, an adaption normally reserved for reptiles living in cold climates.

Dwarf geckos in the family Sphaerodactylus sometimes occur at a density of over 21,000 individuals per acre, equating to a biomass of about nine pounds per acre. These statistics don’t mean much until you compare these geckos to other species in the animal kingdom – in fact their population density in terms of biomass is similar to that of the African Elephant! Panama’s tropical forests are home to the beautiful Caribbean Least Gecko, which we are sure to see scurrying amongst the leaf litter, providing a chance to appreciate these remarkable animals up-close.

With our expert guide we have the chance to build an enviable list of reptile and amphibians, with highlights that could include Rainbow Lizard, Eyelash Viper, Meso-American Slider Turtle, Green Iguana, Panamanian Coral Snake, Reticulated Glass Frog, Rosenberg’s Gladiator Tree Frog and Panama Humming Frog.

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Eyelash Viper

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Reticulated Glass Frog

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Rainbow Lizard

The botanically-rich forests in this area are home to numerous stunning plants, from colourful bromeliads to fragrant orchids, and we’ll find out about many interesting mutual relationships between plants, reptiles and amphibians. Of course the Panamanian rainforests are also bird and mammal-rich and between finding reptiles and amphibians we will be sure to enjoy some of the wonderful birdlife here, including trogons, motmots, jacamars and hummingbirds, plus neotropical mammals including Brown-throated and Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloths, Geoffroy’s Tamarin and Northern Tamandua. Furthermore, we’ll also have the chance to explore the forest at night, in search of nocturnal reptiles and amphibians, with the chance of some real mammal specialities like the endemic and wonderful Rothschild's Porcupine and the beautiful Bushy-tailed Olingo.

'Panama – Reptiles and Amphibians' departs on 1st July 2020 and availability is limited, so we recommend that you book soon! For more information please click on the link above, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Keel-billed Toucan

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Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth

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Kinkajou