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Poison dart frog

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Poison dart frog
694px-Poison Dart Frogs.jpg
Scientific Classification
  • Aromobates
  • Colosthethus
  • Dendrobates
  • Epipedobates
  • Minyobates
  • Phyllobates

Poison dart frogs are any of the species of frogs belonging to the taxonomic Family Dendrobatidae. They are also known by several other names including dart frog, arrow frog, and poison arrow frog. These animals have very vibrant colors that cover their entire body. These are believed to be used to ward off predators. The frogs reproduce sexually and produce tadpoles which eventually turn into a frog. They are found in warm, tropical environments, especially Hawaii, and Central and South America. Their diet consists mainly of bugs. They secrete a toxin on their back that is generally harmless to humans and animals, but some rare species, can be extremely deadly.


Dyeing dart frog Dendrobates tinctorius

Poison dart frogs have many different vibrant color schemes. The majority are black, blue, or green, with black spots. Those native to Hawaii are a brownish-black or a shiny green. Most grow to be about 4 cm long. The adults breathe through lungs while the tadpoles breathe through gills. Adults have 4 limbs, no tail, and the adults have webbed toes which aid in swimming. However, tadpoles have a tail and no limbs. Adults have poison glands all over the surface of their body, which is primarily a defensive mechanism. [1]


Poison dart frogs reproduce sexually. Although, their reproduction habits are odd compared to other amphibians. The females, from the genus Colostethus, lay their eggs on the forest floor after a male performs an elaborate mating ritual. The male or female (normally the male) will then protect the eggs until they hatch. Once hatched, the young tadpoles will wiggle onto the back of whoever was guarding the eggs. The parent will then take the hatchlings to any nearby water. Tadpoles from the genus Dendrobates are taken to small, isolated pools of water in trees. There are some species where the female will go back repeatedly to these trees to feed the small tadpoles. They are often fed unfertilized eggs which supply a great amount of nutrients (usually their only source of food). Regular amphibians rarely perform these types of behavior. [2]


A very small poison dart frog resting in the middle of a plant. (Dendrobates tinctorius)

These frogs live in warm tropical climates. They are most often found in Central and South America, but they were introduced into Hawaii and have lived very well there. Some of these animals prefer to live mainly in trees, while others are found on the forest floor. They thrive in places with streams or small pools. These pools or streams are also the primary dwelling place of tadpoles. They are diurnal, meaning that they are active during the day. They are always looking for food and protecting and caring for their young. Surprisingly, these frogs' elaborate colors are not for attracting mates, but for warding off and warning predators of their dangerous poison. This frog's diet consists mostly of small bugs like ants, spiders, and termites. [3]



There are at least 100 different toxins identified that poison dart frogs secrete in their skin. Even though there are so many, barely any are toxic to humans. The only frogs that are poisonous to humans are those of the genus Phyllobates which contain the very deadly neurotoxin, batrachotoxin, and its derivatives. Just 40 micrograms of the batrachotoxin can be fatal. The Golden Poison Dart Frog is extremely deadly. Just touching its back with the tip of your tongue could be toxic enough to kill you. Some Indian tribes around the Amazon coat the tips of their blow darts with the poison from three different frogs of the Phyllobates genus. If an animal is hit with a dart made from batrachotoxin it will fall over immediately in its tracks, since paralysis is almost instantaneous. [4]



See Also