AmphibiaWeb - Sachatamia ilex


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Sachatamia ilex (Savage, 1967)
Ghost Glass Frog, Limon Giant Glass Frog, Holly’s Glassfrog, Rana de Cristal de Holly, Rana de Cristal Fantasma.
family: Centrolenidae
subfamily: Centroleninae
genus: Sachatamia
Sachatamia ilex
© 2023 Aidan McCarthy (1 of 36)
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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Sachatamia ilex is a medium-sized frog, reaching up to 37 mm in length (Guyer and Donnelly 2005). It is commonly known as either the Ghost Glass Frog or the Limon Giant Glass Frog. Sachatamia ilex can be up to twice the size of related species, making it the largest species of glass frog in Central America. This frog also has prominent, protuberant nostrils located on a slightly elevated ridge on its head. The eyes are positioned on top of the large semicircular head so that the eyes point directly forward. The pupils are horizontally elliptical (Leenders 2001). The tympanum is round and indistinct. Vomerine teeth are present in transverse rows between the choanae and are medially separated. The toes are extensively webbed, in contrast to the fingers, where more extensive webbing is present only between the outer fingers (III-V). Finger and toe discs are present and truncate. Males have a nuptial pad on the dorsal and outer lateral surfaces at the base of the thumb (Savage 2002), and a humeral spine embedded within the arm musculature (i.e. non-protruding) and running approximately parallel to the humerus (Cisneros-Heredia and McDiarmid 2007).

Sachatamia ilex has a deep leaf green body, with a light green or white throat and belly, and a distinct white lip stripe (Leenders 2001; Savage 2002). Occasionally, scattered white dots are present on the dorsum. This frog also has yellowish hands and feet (Leenders 2001). The bones are dark green, a characteristic shared with other centrolenid frogs and one genus of hylid frogs, Trachycephalus (treated under the name Phrynohyas in Savage 2002). Sachatamia ilex has a white, parietal peritoneal sheath covering its internal organs (Leenders 2001). The digestive tract itself is unpigmented (Savage 2002). The eyes are silver with black reticulations, and are positioned on top of the large semicircular head so that the eyes point directly forward (Leenders 2001). Nuptial pads are white (Savage 2002).

Distribution and Habitat

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

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View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
amphibiandisease logo View Bd and Bsal data (5 records).
Sachatamia ilex occurs in Colombia, Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, and Ecuador. It is found mainly in the foothills of the Central and Talamanca Mountain ranges, as well as in a few locations on the northern Pacific slopes, at elevations up to 1420 m above sea level (Stuart et al. 2008). Within Ecuador it has been reported from the northern Pacific lowlands in the provinces of Esmeraldas and Pichincha, at 180-800 m in elevation (Cisneros-Heredia and McDiarmid 2007). It inhabits primary and secondary wet forests, and is found on large low-lying leaves, often in the spray zone of waterfalls or streams (Stuart et al. 2008; Leenders 2001).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The Ghost Glass Frog is nocturnal and arboreal, and is not common. During the daytime it sleeps on the top surface of exposed leaves (Leenders 2001).

It is able to vary the intensity of its green coloration to match the substrate on which it is resting (Leenders 2001).

Males call from the upper side of leaves, usually with the head facing the tip of the leaf (Cisneros-Heredia and McDiarmid 2007). The call consists of a single high-pitched "click", repeated after intervals of several minutes (Savage 2002).

Females deposit black eggs on upper leaf surfaces overhanging a stream (Savage 2002).

Trends and Threats
This species requires vegetative cover over streams and is thus vulnerable to habitat loss by deforestation. It occurs within protected areas in Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia (Stuart et al. 2008).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss


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


Cisneros-Heredia, D. F., and McDiarmid, R. W. (2007). ''Revision of the characters of Centrolenidae (Amphibia: Anura: Athesphatanura), with comments on its taxonomy and the description of new taxa of glassfrogs.'' Zootaxa, 1572, 1-82.

Guyer, C., and Donnelly, M. A. (2005). Amphibians and Reptiles of La Selva, Costa Rica and the Caribbean Slope: A Comprehensive Guide. University of California Press, Berkeley.

IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2006. Global Amphibian Assessment. Accessed on 21 July 2007.

Leenders, T. (2001). A Guide to Amphibians And Reptiles of Costa Rica. Zona Tropical, Miami.

Savage, J. M. (2002). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica:a herpetofauna between two continents, between two seas. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, USA and London.

Originally submitted by: Rupi Mudan (first posted 2005-11-01)
Description by: Ann T. Chang (updated 2021-05-22)
Distribution by: Ann T. Chang (updated 2021-05-22)
Life history by: Ann T. Chang (updated 2021-05-22)
Comments by: Ann T. Chang (updated 2021-05-22)

Edited by: Kevin Gin, Ann T. Chang (2021-05-22)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2021 Sachatamia ilex: Ghost Glass Frog <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 22, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 22 Jul 2024.

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