Wait. Did you see what happened there?
|Image: Josh More|
They're pretty much golden. Or else slightly greenish-yellow. And they tend to be covered in black polka-dots or splotches.
But they're not frogs!
They really don't look much like our common conception of a toad. Look at those bright colours! The smooth skin. The slim body. The long, slender legs...
They're dinky, wee things, females reaching at most 6.3 cm (2.5 in) long and males a fair bit smaller. They spend much of the day hanging out near streams and waterfalls, munching on insects. They can do so with confidence because Panamanian Golden Frogs are probably the most toxic toads in the world!
|Image: Brian Gratwicke|
Thanks for not being a snake in the grass.
Video: Oh, Behave!
Panamanian Golden Frogs use more than just their colours to catch the eye. They also wave! They lift one of those long, slender arms and wave a hand around to draw attention to themselves, their colours and the potency of their poison. It's the most cordial threat, ever!
Hand waving does more than just worry predators, males also use it to warn other males to get off their lawn. The males are fiercely territorial and will fight anyone who gets too close to their land. Physical fighting is a whole lot of effort, though, so hopefully a passive-aggressive wave will be enough to shoo away any rivals.
But it doesn't end there, either. Males stick to their territory all year round but females move into nearby forests in February, when the rainy season starts. They start to return at the end of the year as the dry season begins. The males wait to greet them, whistling, waving and courting, hoping a nice lady will wander into their territory and say hi, amorously.
It's thought that all this waving came about in the first place to allow Panamanian Golden Frogs to communicate over the din of the kind of fast-flowing streams they often live by.
Eventually she'll lay a string of eggs in the stream and he'll fertilize them. They hatch in little more than a week and the tadpoles munch on algae and use their suction cup bellies to stick to underwater rocks.
|Image: Josh More|
Unfortunately, it's not clear that any of this actually occurs in Panama any more. The population of Panamanian Golden Frogs has been horribly ravaged by a fungal infection that has been killing frogs across the world and may already be responsible for several extinctions. The Panamanian Golden Frog may in fact be extinct in the wild.
Thankfully, they've been successfully bred in captivity and numerous populations in zoos and other institutions live in captivity, hoping to one day return to their native land.
They're not saying bye just yet.