Poison Dart Frogs

Dendrobates spp.

Aposematic Amphibian

Most animals hide with camouflage. The poison dart frog does the opposite! The bright colors are easily seen by predators, and serve to warn of the poisonous skin of the frog. This type of warning is called aposematic coloration.

About the Species

The "dart" in poison dart frog comes from South American natives coating their weapons in the secretions of the frogs.

Poison dart frogs come in a variety of colors, including red, yellow, green, and blue. They gain their toxicity because of what they eat! They eat a variety of ants, termites, and other insect species. These insects eat plants that have toxins, and the toxins are transferred from plant, to insect, to frog. Many species of frogs are nocturnal, in order to hide better. The poison dart frog is the opposite! They are active in the day, when they can be seen the most. Their bright colors warn predators to not eat them.

The poison dart frogs at the Central Florida Zoo are in several different habitats in the Herpetarium. No worries though! The snakes don't bother the frogs and the frogs don't bother them.

Words From the Experts

Quotes

Poison dart frogs are not poisonous in human care, because their toxicity is from what they eat in their natural habitat.

Heather

Did You Know?

Poison from poison dart frogs has been used in medical research. A powerful painkiller has been developed based on the poison of the phantasmal poison frog, and secretions are also being used in the development of muscle relaxants and heart stimulants.

Facts

Origin

South America

Habitat

Tropical rainforests

Size

No more than 2 inches long, up to .14 ounces

Diet

Ants, termites, centipedes, beetles

Predators

Larger animals may eat them, but soon learn better

Natural Defenses

Poisonous

Reproduction

The female lays small clutches of eggs, up to 30, that both parents will protect

Status

Although they are common, poison dart frogs are threatened with habitat loss

Life Expectancy

Up to 15 years

  • Saving Animals From Extinction
  • Culture Builds Florida
  • Florida Association of Zoos and Aquariums
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