Rhaebo haematiticus
family: Bufonidae

© 2015 Dr. Peter Janzen (1 of 27)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Least Concern (LC)
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None


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Bufo haematiticus is a moderate to large-sized toad, with adult males 42 to 62 mm and adult females 50 to 80 mm in SVL. This species can be distinguished by the lack of cranial crests, having large parotoids, the presence of a distinct inner tarsal fold, and a "dead leaf" color pattern of light above and a broad dark lateral band (Savage 2002).

The head is as broad as it is long with large parotoid glands that are elongated, equal in area to the side of the head, and covered with pustulate warts. No cranial crests are present. Limbs are long. Finger I is longer than finger II; no webbing on any fingers. Single subarticular tubercles are present but supernumerary and accessory palmar tubercles are lacking. Toes are webbed at the base, with single rounded subarticular tubercles on the toes but no supernumerary or plantar tubercles. Inner metatarsal tubercle elongated, outer metatarsal tubercle small and rounded. There is a distinct inner tarsal fold. Dorsal surfaces and parotoid glands have warts and pustules. Adult males have a single internal subgular vocal sac that is fully distensible and a single vocal slit on either right or left. On the thumb, males have a brown nuptial pad (Savage 2002).

The dorsum has a coloration of tan to purplish gray, which may be uniform or marked with black spots and/or burnt orange blotches. The parotoids are a slightly lighter shade than the dorsum. The iris is dark brown to black with gold flecks. A white line outlines the top of a dark brown-black lateral stripe that runs from the tip of the snout along the side of the head and flank to the groin. The venter is light beige to yellow, often shading into burnt orange with dark brown marks on the chest (Savage 2002).

Larvae are small with an ovoid and somewhat depressed body, reaching 21 mm in total length at stage 37. Mouth is anteroventral, nostrils anterolateral, and eyes are dorsal. Lateral, sinistral spiracle, and medial vent tube. Tail long with low fins and a rounded tip. Oral disc small and emarginate, with beaks and 2/3 denticles, showing a broad A2 gap above the mouth. A single row of labial papillae is present lateral to the mouth. Dark brown dorsal coloration with clear venter. Dark tail musculature with clear fins (Savage 2002).

Distribution and Habitat

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


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Distributed on the Atlantic versant from eastern Honduras to northern Colombia and on the Pacific slope from Costa Rica to central Ecuador, at elevations from 20 to 1,300 meters a.s.l. (Savage 2002). In Venezuela it occurs in the Sierra de Perijá (Barrio-Amorós 2004). This species is found in lowland and premontane moist and wet forests, on the forest floor (Savage 2002). It can occur in disturbed areas but only near intact forest (Solís et al. 2004). Metamorphs and juveniles can be found under rocks along streams (Savage 2002).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
This species is nocturnal and breeds explosively in the early to middle wet season (March to July) (Savage 2002). It prefers to breed in rocky pools that border forest streams and large rivers (Savage 2002). Eggs are laid in single-file paired strings and have black and cream pigmentation (Savage 2002). No advertisement call is known but a possible release call has been described as a series of high-pitched peeps (Ibáñez et al. 1999).

Bufo haematiticus consumes small ants, mites, beetles, and other arthropods ranging from 0.4 to 4.8 mm in length (Savage 2002).

Trends and Threats
The population trend is decreasing. Although Bufo haematiticus is described as abundant in Costa Rica (Solís et al. 2004), it is also described as occurring at low density at La Selva, Heredia Province, Costa Rica (Savage 2002), and as having been extirpated at Monteverde, Costa Rica (Pounds et al. 1997). Population numbers are declining in Reserva Forestal Fortuna, Chiriqui, Panama, and this species is uncommon in Honduras (Solís et al. 2004). It is relatively common in Nicaragua. In Columbia and Venezuela, Bufo haematiticus is rare but has been recently reported (Solís et al. 2004).

The main threats are habitat destruction and degradation due to agriculture, cattle ranching, and wood extraction, although this species does occur in several protected areas. It can sometimes be found in disturbed habitat as long as intact forest is adjacent. In Venezuela its habitat is threatened by dams and in Colombia oil pollution is a problem. Chytrid fungal infections have been detected in this species at Fortuna, Panama (Solís et al. 2004).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Dams changing river flow and/or covering habitat
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants

The karyotype is 2N=22. Chromosomes are metacentric to submetacentric. Five pairs are noticeably shorter than the others. Secondary constrictions are found on chromosomes 1, 4, and 7 (Bogart 1972).

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


Barrio-Amorós, C. L. (2004). ''Amphibians of Venezuela, Systematic list, distribution and references: an update.'' Revista Ecología Latinoamericana, 9, 1-48.

Bogart, J. P. (1972). ''Karyotypes.'' Evolution in the Genus Bufo. W. F. Blair, eds., University of Texas Press, Austin.

Ibañez, R., Rand, A. S. and Jaramillo, C. A. (1999). Los Anfibios del Monumento Natural Barro Colorado, Parque Nacional Soberanía y Areas Adyacentes. Mizrachi, E. and Pujol, S. A., Santa Fe de Bogota.

Pounds, J. A., Fogden, M. P. L., Savage, J. M., and Gorman, G. C. (1997). "Tests of null models for amphibian declines on a tropical mountain." Conservation Biology, 11(6), 1307-1322.

Savage, J. M. (2002). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica. University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.

Solís, F., Ibáñez, R., Jaramillo, C., Chaves, G., Bolaños, F., Savage, J., Cruz, G., Wilson, L.D., Köhler, G., Coloma, L.A., Ron, S., García-Pérez, J.E., and Amézquita, A. (2004). Rhaebo haematiticus. In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.1. Downloaded on 28 July 2009.

Written by Lettie Gallup (lettiegallup AT, UC Berkeley
First submitted 2009-07-15
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2009-11-02)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2009 Rhaebo haematiticus <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Oct 19, 2017.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2017. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 19 Oct 2017.

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