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Some Fascinating Poison Dart Frog Facts

Updated on February 21, 2015
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Toxic Amphibians: Dart Frogs of the Amazon Forest

Poison dart frogs of the family Dendrobatidae are found in tropical forests of Central and South America. Their name derives from the fact that indigenous hunters would tip their blowgun darts with the toxins produced by the frogs. The poisons are thought to be concentrated from the alkaloids in plants eaten by the ants and other insects that the dart frogs prey on. Captive bred frogs are not poisonous, since the flies and crickets that form their staple diet are not fed poisonous plants.

The golden poison frog, Phyllobates terribilis, found mainly in Colombia, is the most toxic frog known. Secretions for one, 2 inch frog, are enough to kill 10 grown men. It produces a poison known as batrachtoxin that blocks transmission at the neuromuscular junction, causing paralysis, including paralysis of the respiratory system, and death.

The bright colours of dart frogs act as warning to predators

The frogs are some of the most brilliantly coloured amphibians. The colours serve to warn potential predators that are considering the frog for their dinner that, if they eat it, it will be their last meal. There are about 75 different species of dartfrog, each one with a different colour. Frequently frogs of the same species exhibit different patterns and colours depending on the locality in which they are found

The azureus poison dart frog
The azureus poison dart frog | Source

Dart frog reproduction

One of the most remarkable poison dart frog facts is that, unlike most amphibians, they take care of their young. The male finds a suitable spot and calls to attract a female. Male frogs will often fight over territory and the female chooses the winner, reasoning that he is more genetically fit and will pass ‘good genes’ to her offspring. Females lay few eggs, usually between 1 and 5, unlike waxy monkey tree frogs that can produce hundreds or thousands of eggs. Depending on species, either the male or the female carries the tadpoles on his back, they stick to the mucus the frogs produce, and searches for a suitable place in which to deposit the children. Many dart frog species use bromeliads to rear their offspring, depositing the tadpole in the junction between leaves, which is flooded with rainwater. Each tadpole is placed in a different bromeliad, to prevent cannibalism, and also to increase the chance of at least some surviving, tadpoles are easy prey to other insects and animals.


David Attenborough presents the poison dart frog

In some species this is the extent of parental care, but the strawberry dart frog, Dendrobatis pumilio, male remembers the exact bromeliad in which he deposited each tadpole and checks on them regularly. When the tadpole is hungry, he calls out to attract their mother and induces her to lay an unfertilized egg in the bromeliad, which serves as food for the tadpole until it metamorphoses and can hunt its own food.

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    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 4 years ago from maybe (the guy or girl) next door

      Don't you just love David Attenborough? Great hub!

    • aa lite profile image
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      aa lite 4 years ago from London

      Thanks! In the UK Attenborough is basically a "National Treasure", I love his documentaries, all that beautiful photography, great facts, and that cultured calm voice narrating it all!

    • profile image

      Trish 4 years ago

      Thanks for this information about the Blue Poison Dart Frog! I'm 10 years old and I'm in 4th grade, so i had to do a research project my teacher chose for me which she chose was amphibians! so i chose Blue Poison Dart Frog and i would like to say thank you for posting these fascinating facts and images!

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      PinkLauren 4 years ago

      Thanks for all this information about Blue Poison Dart Frogs! I'm 10 years old and I'm in 4th grade, i needed to do a research project about amphibians so i chose a Blue Poison Dart Frog! After writing down some research notes, i'd like to thank you for posting these fascinating facts and images!

    • aa lite profile image
      Author

      aa lite 4 years ago from London

      Thank you both, and may I say it is a very wise choice for a project. If you are ever looking for another frog to research, I highly recommend the giant waxy monkey frog, Phyllomedusa bicolour.

      It looks really cool it has a very interesting name, with an interesting explanation, I have kept a male for 7 years and he is a fascinating pet.

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      Thomas mack 2 years ago from Glasgow

      Thanks for sharing this info natures a great thing to watch n learn about

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