The Poison Dart Frog comes from a group of frogs known as the dendrobatidae family. You can find these specific frogs in Central and South America; they’re not hard to miss with their brightly colored bodies.
Although this frog family in the wild is all toxic, the levels of toxicity vary from one species to the next and from one population to another. This frog is still considered to be one of our planets most toxic species in general.
These amphibians are often called “Dart Frogs” because Indigenous Embera people of Columbia would use the frog’s toxic secretions to poison the tips of their blow darts. This was done for many centuries, and the poison was also used for hunting.
The Poison Dart Frogs are small sometimes less than 0.59 inches in adult length, only a few grow up to 2.4 inches. They weigh on average 1 oz. and the average size is 1 in. or about the size of a paperclip. A group of these frogs is referred to as an army.
The brightly colored aposematic patterns warn potential predators to stay away.
The bright coloration is associated with the frog’s toxicity and levels of alkaloids. The colors of the frogs are often related to the area it lives in, they can be yellow, gold, copper, red, green, blue or even black. Often times they will have multiple colors and hues that go with elaborate designs.
The male will actually go through an elaborate ritual to attract a mate. The male will vocalize a loud trill sound, and is followed by courtship. Adult female frogs lay their eggs in moist places, for example on leaves, in plants, among exposed roots, and elsewhere.
When the egg hatches the adult will piggyback the tadpoles one at a time into suitable water. The tadpoles remain there until they metamorphose. These Poison Dart Frogs are very dedicated parents. Although this behavior is not unique among amphibians, the males are exceptional with their care. The males themselves will tend the clutch, some times exclusively, and they will perform vital transportation duties with the tadpoles.
Interestingly chemicals are extracted from the skin of the frog because scientists believe it may have medical value. They use the poison to make a pain killer. One such chemical is a painkiller 200 times as potent as morphine called epibatidine, however the dose is very close to the fatal dose. Medical researchers have been exploring potential medicinal uses for the venom. Researchers have already developed a synthetic version of the venom, which could potentially be used as a pain medication.
The most poisonous of these frogs is the golden poison frog, and it has enough toxins on average to kill ten to twenty men or about ten thousand mice! Scientists are still study the frogs to find the source of their poison, the general speculations are that the frogs could be assimilating the poison from plants that are actually carried by the frogs prey.
The main source of food for these frogs is small insects, such as fruit flies, ants, termites, young crickets and tiny beetles. These are all things the frog can easily catch with its long sticky tongue.
The amazing thing with this frog is that when they are breed and raised in captivity they do not develop the venom they would in the wild. What this means to you is it is potentially possible to get one for a pet, I would recommend researching local laws and restrictions on exotic pets first however.
With scientific study the life span on a Poison Dart Frog in the wild can range from three to fifteen years. However these frogs live much longer than that in captivity, reported to live as long as twenty-five years. The frogs are considered a threatened species, however the only natural predator for this species of frog is a family of snakes called Leimadophis epinephelus.