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Reptiles and Amphibians at Reserva Las Tangaras

June 15, 2015

At Reserva Las Tangaras, there is a great diversity of reptiles and amphibians. Frogs are more likely to be heard at night and can be spotted with a flashlight at night as many are nocturnal, while reptiles are most likely going to be basking or seen as a quick movement as you walk along the trails. For us the greatest species diversity observed has been in snakes, with 10 species observed on or near the reserve. Almost every snake observed has been a different species.

Pasture’s Frog Pristimantis achatinus

Rainfrogs are the most diverse family of frogs in the area with 23 species. Most are nocturnal and arboreal. However with the Pasture’s Frog, the tiny juveniles are diurnal and terrestrial and can be spooked as you walk through the yard and along trails here at the reserve. They are likely the most common frogs at the reserve. They are small, brown, and have distinctive V markings on their backs. We see them in mostly disturbed sites, like grassy areas, trails, and even in the cabin. Only the juveniles are diurnal, but at night the larger adults can be seen on their arboreal perches.

Cane Toad Rhinella marina

This large toad is the most common toad and likely only toad here at the reserve, as the 3 others that occur in Mindo are very rare. Found in areas such as under the cabin and edges of forest. This pugnacious species can grow up to 2.5 kilograms and 24 centimeters in length. As an ambush predator, the cane toad hides and waits to swallow its unsuspecting prey which is anything that it can fit its mouth around. Native here, this toxic toad has become highly invasive in places such as Australia, as few organisms can eat it.

Andean Snail Eater Dispsas andiana

There are a variety of snakes that occur here at Las Tangaras ranging from pencil sized to up to six feet. They range from terrestrial to arboreal, and nocturnal to diurnal. Most snakes that are seen are terrestrial and are seen slithering away as you approach on the trail. However, on a warm sunny day or a cold morning, you may find one basking in the warm or sluggish from the cold.
The Andean Snail-Eater, a nocturnal snake is an example of one of these snakes. Pictured is a juvenile who found itself too sluggish to move from its nighttime hunting grounds during a cool morning. This small juvenile can grow up to 84cm and actively forages exclusively on mollusks. The Andean Snail-Eater is one of three Snail-Eaters and one of 23 colubrids or harmless snakes that occur in Mindo.

Ecuadorian Toadhead Bothrops campbelli

Luckily there are few dangerous poisonous snakes at the reserve. There are one coral snake and four vipers. These snakes are rarely sighted, but one should be aware of their existence. One of these snakes which we have observed is the endangered Ecuadorian Toadhead. Unfortunately, this individual was dead on the the road near the entry trail, however it more than likely could be found at the reserve. Vipers are highly venomous and can be recognized by their triangular heads. According to “The Amphibians and Reptiles of Mindo”, the Ecuadorian Toadhead is somewhat docile and tries to escape rather than bite. However the more common Terpiocelo Bothrops Asper is similar in appearance and is extremely venomous and aggressive.

Ocellated Riama Riama oculata

There is great potential for the diversity of lizards at the reserve with 16 species occuring in Mindo, but for us these creatures have been the most elusive. Most encounters have been brief, and they are gone before we can register any field markings. The Ocellated Riama is a relatively large brownish terrestrial to arboreal lizard often found in moist shaded areas as it is susceptible to overheating. It can be identified by its spear shaped head, short limbs, and shiny scales. The one pictured is a small juvenile that found its way into the lodge.
The Reptiles and Amphibians of Mindo
Arteaga A., Bustamante L., Guayasamin J.
2013 Universidad Tecnologica Indoamerica

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