The coronated tree frog, also called the spiny-headed tree frog, is named for the pointed projections on its head. These rarely seen frogs live in trees in subtropical forests and occasionally on coffee plantations.

Physical Description

The coronated tree frog is light brown in color with darker brown markings, a black belly and flanks bordered in white. They have sharp pointed projections on their heads and a huge tympanum (round, smooth disc at the corners of their mouths that works much like a human ear drum). Juveniles lack projections and are white when hatching, transitioning from dark brown to bluish-gray as they mature.


Sizes range from 2.5 inches (68 millimeters) in males to 3 inches (80 millimeters) in females.

Native Habitat

The coronated tree frog's range includes fragmented populations in Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama and Mexico. It is also found as fragmented populations on the Atlantic slopes of the Sierra de Los Tuxtlas, Veracruz State and northern Oaxaca State in Mexico, eastern Honduras, central Costa Rica, and central Panama from 311 to 6,561 feet (95 to 2,000 meters) above sea level. It has not been recorded in Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador or Nicaragua.

An arboreal species, coronated tree frogs are rarely seen as they spend their lives in bromeliads and other plants. They are found in in subtropical forests just below mountainous regions. They live in intact forests, but are also common in young, secondary growth forests. They are also sometimes observed to be living in coffee plantations.


This species lacks vocal slits and sacs, but their loud "boop-boop-boop" call can be heard up to 300 feet (100 meters) away.

Food/Eating Habits

As adults, coronated frogs eat insects and other small arthropods. As tadpoles, they eat unfertilized eggs deposited by their mothers.

At the Smithsonian's National Zoo, they are fed crickets, mealworms and earthworms.

Conservation Efforts

While they have a wide range, it is extremely fragmented and threatened by human development. Recent publications have shown population declines in this species is likely due to the spread of amphibian chytrid fungus, discovered at the Zoo in 1999.

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