Gladiator Tree Frog

By Marla Lise

Scientific Name: Hypsiboas rosenbergi

The Gladiator Tree Frog … hmm, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear that name?

A green frog with a helmet, sword and shield, going, “rrrr-bit”?

Although that idea might be a little bit far-fetched, this frog actually does have a ‘dagger’ that it uses in fights. The male frogs have a bony spine on their hands that they use to fight off other males in search of nests or females. Another fascinating thing about these frogs is that the males can make five different types of sounds.

Gladiator Tree Frog. Photo by Rhett A. Butler
The Gladiator Tree Frogs are one of the world’s largest tree frogs, measuring between 70-90mm long. They are found in the lowlands of Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica in Central and South America. The adults feed on insects and spiders, while the tadpoles eat small insect larvae and eggs.

They have webbed hands and feet and suction cups on their toes, which helps them to hold on to tree trunks and branches and to swim as well. The adult frogs lay their eggs in muddy areas near water bodies and the little tadpoles emerge to greet the world about 40 hours later. They usually live up to 1 year.

Alarms haven’t been sounded as yet to step up conservation efforts to save these frogs, however, as more and more trees are being cut down in Latin American rainforests, it is only a matter of time before they lose their homes.


  • May I use graphics from for my projects? Yes, you may provided that you don't remove the mongabay label from the images. You may use information from the site for class projects and can cite mongabay as the source.
  • Is this web site credible? Mongabay is the world's most popular source for information on tropical forests. The site is highly acclaimed by a number of the world's leading tropical scientists. Mongabay Founder Rhett Butler has published several scientific papers.
  • Can I interview the founder of mongabay for my school project? Unfortunately Rhett is not available for interviews. However he has answered some common questions on the Rainforest Interview page.
  • Do you have any games or activities? Currently there are a few on the resources page.
  • How can I help save rainforests? Some ideas are listed at Rainforest Solutions.
  • Where can I learn more about rainforests? Check the main rainforest site.