Poison dart frogs

Poison dart frogs

Poison dart frogs are day-active small frogs originating from high humidity areas in South and Central America. Today, there are also invasive dart frogs living on Hawaii in the United States. All poison dart frogs belongs to the family Dendrobatidae. They are brightly coloured to warn predators of their poisonous nature, but some predators have developed the capacity to safely eat dart frogs despite their toxicity. All species of poison dart frogs are poisonous in the wild but the toxicity varies greatly between different species. They are called dart frogs since indigenous people use their toxin to create venomous arrows for hunting. Only three of over 200 described species of dart frogs are however known to be used this way.

Most poison dart frog species are very small: the smallest species reach about 1.5 cm / 0.6 in. The largest poison dart frog species grow to be about 6 cm / 2.4 in. Many poisonous dart frogs exist in different colour forms that might have emerged as early as 6,000 years ago. This colour morphs can interbred and have created controversy within the scientific community as to whether different frogs are different species or one and the same.

Dart frogs lay eggs in moist places. Most species seek out a pool of water, but some species leave their tadpoles in the water that collects in bromeliads and other plants. Many species are devoted parents; when the tadpoles hatch they crawl up on the parents back and the parents carry them to water. Some species provide their tadpoles with food in the form of unfertilized eggs. Dart frog tadpoles stay in the water until they have developed into miniature frogs (i.e. undergone metamorphosis).

The toxicity of poisonous dart frogs comes from the insects they eat and the frogs can not produce any toxin themselves. This is why poison dart frogs kept in captivity usually are none-toxic. Itis however important to remember that wild caught specimens can retain their toxicity for quite some time and caution is therefore recommended.Research is showing that poisonous dart frogs might give us a lot of new medicines. One such medicine that has been developed from research on poisonous dart frogs is a pain killer 200 times more potent than morphine. Other promising research projects are trying to develop new muscle relaxants, heart stimulants and appetite suppressants.

Poison dart frogs are popular pets and most species thrive where the humidity is kept constant at 80 to 100% and the temperature is around 72 °F (22 °C) to 80 °F (27 °C) during the day and no lower than 60 °F (16 °C) to 65 °F (18 °C) at night. We do however strongly recommend that you read up on the specific species you want to keep and optimize the environment in your terrarium for that species before getting any frog.

Many species of poison dart frog are critically endangered and the hope for some species might lie in captive breeding to later release them back into the wild. The main threat against the frogs is a disease named chytridiomycosis that have ravished frog populations all over the world. Other reasons for their decline include loss of habitat and the introduction of invasive predatory species.


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