AmphibiaWeb - Craugastor megacephalus


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Craugastor megacephalus (Cope, 1875)

Subgenus: Craugastor
family: Craugastoridae
genus: Craugastor
Craugastor megacephalus
© 2007 Twan Leenders (1 of 16)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Least Concern (LC)
National Status None
Regional Status None
conservation needs Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .


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Diagnosis: Females are large-sized (50-70 mm SVL) and males (30-43 mm SVL) are moderate-sized. This species has a well developed pair of parallel suprascapular plicae (dorsal ridges) that run to about midbody. It also has paired laterosacral ridges on the posterior dorsum that form a V-shape in Nicaraguan, Honduran, and Costa Rican populations, but consist of two non-converging parallel ridges in populations from western Panama. A dark seat patch is present on the posterior thigh surface and may be uniform with yellow spots or mottling (Savage and Myers 2002; Cope 1875).

Description: Craugastor megacephalus is a leaf-litter dwelling frog. The SVL of a male adult frog is 30 to 43 mm, and the SVL of a female adult frog is 50 to 70 mm. Snout is truncated in dorsal view and slightly obtuse in lateral view. Nares do not protrude. Upper eyelid is tuberculate. Tympanum is large. Vomerine odontophores are triangular in shape, and located posterior to the choanae with odontophore patches separated by a narrow medial gap. Large cranial ridges are present with knobs or bosses on the posterior end of the crests. These knobs are particularly evident on large females, above the supratympanic fold. This species has a set of chalice-shaped or hourglass-shaped plicae (dorsal ridges); parallel suprascapular plicae run to about midbody, and paired laterosacral ridges form either a V-shape or parallel lines on the posterior dorsum. The V-shape of laterosacral plicae is found in Nicaraguan, Honduran, and Costa Rican populations, while laterosacral plicae consisting of non-converging parallel ridges occur in populations from western Panama. Paravertebral plicae are absent. The dorsum of adults is smooth to shagreened with a few scattered, low pustules. Pustules present in juvenile Craugastor megacephalus are small with pale tips and usually pointed. The venter is smooth. One or two large tubercles are present on the heel. Tarsal fold is lacking. Juveniles have prominent tubercles on the outer tarsus, but tarsal tubercles are weakly developed in adults (Savage and Myers 2002).

The dorsal surface of Craugastaor megacephalus is gray-tan to olive-brown, sometimes with a salmon cast. Large females especially may be dark brown. Individuals have black supratympanic folds (usually), a black spot on the tympanum (usually), black plicae, black sacral spots and enlarged sacral tubercles, and an indistinct lighter interorbital bar or blotch, bordered by slightly darker markings. Juveniles have a lighter ground color which makes the dark markings stand out more in constrast. Upper lip may have a lighter stripe, alternating dark and light bars, or uniform coloration. Lower orbit usually has adjacent alternating black and off-white spots. No paired dorsal stripes are present. Dorsal limb surfaces may be uniform or may have indistinct darker bars. Posterior thigh is dark brown to black and may be uniform or spotted or mottled. The posterior black seat patch is continuous with a black base that continues onto the undersurface of the thigh. On the ventral surface, the throat and chest are covered by a brown reticulum with large round light spots in juveniles and larger round dark spots in adults. Juveniles also have a series of lighter spots along the edge of the lower jaw. In Costa Rican C. megacephalus, the iris is black flecked with gold, while in Panama the iris may be bronze to brown, sometimes lighter in the lower half, rarely with greenish bronze tint, and with black venation or suffusion (Savage and Myers 2002).

Juveniles from Costa Rica have yellow-orange to red-orange on concealed limb surfaces, on the posterior venter, and ventral surfaces of hands and digits (while the soles are brown). One juvenile from Panama had bright greenish yellow on all ventral surfaces (Savage and Myers 2002).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama

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Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. This species can be found in tropical wet forests on well-drained ground mainly on the Atlantic versant from extreme southeastern Honduras to western Panama (including the Bocas del Toro Islands), with some occurrences also on the Pacific side (Savage and Myers 2002), at elevations of 1-1,200 m asl (Solís et al. 2008).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
This species is a direct developer (Solís et al. 2008). Males are not known to call (Savage and Myers 2002). Juveniles are active both by day and night, on the leaf litter (Savage and Myers 2002). In contrast, Craugastor megacephalus adults are cryptic leaf-litter dwellers (Cooper et al. 2008a, 2008b). This species mainly hides in burrows during the day (Savage and Myers 2002). They sit in the burrow entrance and attack prey at night (Savage and Myers 2002). This species likely makes use of burrows constructed by other animals rather than excavating their own (Savage and Myers 2002). The diet can include beetles and large ants (Noble 1918), as well as orthopterans, isopods, various larvae, and spiders, in addition to vertebrates (not identified but likely another frog or small reptile) (Lieberman 1986, as E. biporcatus).

Trends and Threats
This species is decreasing in population numbers at La Selva, Costa Rica. It is rare in Honduras and Panama near the edges of its range (Solís et al. 2008). It can tolerate some habitat disturbance (Solís et al. 2008). Although it occurs within several protected areas (Solís et al. 2008), Craugastor megacephalus is threatened by the pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), and chytridiomycosis is the leading cause for this species' population decline in eastern Panama (Woodhams et al. 2008).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities

This species was partitioned out from E. biporcatus, with other populations assigned to E. rugosus and E. opimus. It may still be a species complex, given the different juvenile coloration of Costa Rican vs. Panamanian specimens, and the different configuration of the laterosacral plicae in populations from Bocas del Toro, northwestern Panama (Savage and Myers 2002).

A Spanish-language species account can be found at the website of Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio).


Brem, F. R. and Lips, K. (2008). ''Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis infection patterns among Panamanian amphibian species, habitats and elevations during epizootic and enzootic stages.'' Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 81, 189-202.

Cooper Jr., W., Caldwell, J., and Vitt, L. (2008). ''Effective crypsis and its maintenance by immobility in Craugastor frogs.'' Copeia, 3(527-532).

Cooper Jr., W., Caldwell, J., and Vitt, L. (2008). ''Escape responses of cryptic frogs (Anura: Brachycephalidae: Craugastor) to simulated terrestrial and aerial predators.'' Behaviour, 145, 25-38.

Cope, E. D. (1875). ''Checklist of North American Batrachia and Reptilia.'' Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 1, 31.

Lieberman, S. S. (1986). ''Ecology of the leaf litter herpetofauna of a Neotropical rainforest: La Selva, Costa Rica.'' Acta Zoológica Mexicana, 15, 1-72.

Noble, G. K. (1918). ''The amphibians collected by the American Museum Expedition to Nicaragua in 1916.'' Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, New York, 38, 311-347.

Savage, J. M., and Myers, C. W. (2002). ''Frogs of the Eleutherodactylus biporcatus group (Leptodactylidae) of Central America and Northern South America, including rediscovered, resurrected, and new taxa.'' American Museum Novitates, 3357, 1-48.

Solís, F., Ibáñez, R., Chaves, G., Wilson, L. D., and Bolaños, F. (2008). Craugastor megacephalus. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.1. Downloaded on 30 March 2010.

Woodhams, D., Kilburn, V., Reinert, L., Voyles, J., Medina, D., Ibanez, R., Hyatt, D., Boyle, D., Pask, J., Green, D., and Rollins-Smith, L. (2008). ''Chytridiomycosis and amphibian population declines continue to spread eastward in Panama.'' EcoHealth, 5, 268-274.

Originally submitted by: Christine Isabel Javier (first posted 2009-11-02)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker (2011-04-12)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2011 Craugastor megacephalus <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 17, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 17 Jul 2024.

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