Smilisca puma is a moderate-sized golden-tan tree frog (32 to 38 mm adult male SVL, 40 to 46 mm adult female SVL) that has a white labial stripe, a white forearm stripe, a white tarsal stripe along the outer margin of the tibial segment of the leg, and lacks finger webbing. The dorsal pattern consists of paired elongate dark brown to green blotches which branch out across the midline at one or several points. A broad, irregular dark brown to dark green stripe extends posteriorly from each eye and eventually becomes either an H-shaped mark or breaks into spots. Anterior flank has fine dark lines. Inguinal region is white with dark mottling. The posterior thigh surfaces are dark brown. The venter is creamy white. The iris is deep bronze (Savage 2002).
The dorsal surface is smooth. The head is slightly longer than broad with a rounded snout in profile, small eyes, and a distinct tympanum which has a diameter one-half to seven-tenths of the eye diameter. Fingers are short and stout with moderately expanded discs and lack webbing. Toes are weakly webbed. Adult males have paired vocal slits and fully distensible paired grayish brown external subgular vocal sacs. Breeding males also have a light brown nuptial pad on the base of each thumb (Savage 2002).
Larvae are moderately sized, up to 24 mm at stage 34. Body shape is ovoid, mouth is anteroventral, nostrils and eyes are dorsolateral, the tail is short, and the tail tip is rounded. Spiracle is lateral and sinistral, while the vent tube is dextral. Oral disc is small and entire with serrated beaks, 2/3 denticle rows (gap in A2). Single row of papillae on upper labium, two on lower labium, wide gap above mouth, and many additional papillae at angle of jaws. Larval dorsum is olive brown with greenish tan flecks; tail fins are pale brown with greenish gold flecks. Dark markings on tail musculature and anterior fin bases with dark flecks on the posterior fin bases. Iris is bronze (Savage 2002).
A Spanish-language species account can be found at the website of Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio).
- BolaÃ±os, F., Chaves, G., and Kubicki, B. 2004. Smilisca puma. In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.1. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 22 September 2009.
- Duellman, W. E. (1967). ''Courtship isolating mechanisms in Costa Rican hylid frogs.'' Herpetologica, 23(3), 169-183.
- Duellman, W.E. (1970). The Hylid Frogs of Middle America. Volume 1. Monograph of the Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas.
- Savage, J. M. (2002). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica. University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.