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Friday, March 7, 2008

Poison Dart Frogs - video and text

News: Zoo Logic :: Poison Dart Frog Video: Jorge Ribas finds out just how deadly the poison dart frogs at the Smithsonian's National Zoo really are.


Poison dart frog

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Poison dart frogs
Red and Blue "Blue Jeans" Dendrobates pumilio Strawberry Poison Dart Frog
Red and Blue "Blue Jeans" Dendrobates pumilio Strawberry Poison Dart Frog
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Suborder: Neobatrachia
Family: Dendrobatidae Cope, 1865
Distribution of Dendrobatidae (in black)
Distribution of Dendrobatidae (in black)

Proposed subfamily Colostethinae

Proposed subfamily Hyloxalinae

Proposed subfamily Dendrobatinae

Proposed obsolete (invalid) Dendrobatidae genera:

Wild specimen of  Dendrobates reticulatus in Peru.
Wild specimen of Dendrobates reticulatus in Peru.

Poison dart frog (also poison arrow frog, dart frog or poison frog) is the common name of the Dendrobatidae family of small, dihydrogen poison dart frogs are native to Central and South America. The frogs are widely called poison arrow frogs or poison dart frogs due to indigenous peoples' use of their toxic excretions to poison the tips of arrows and blowdarts. In actuality, of over 175 species of poison frog, only three are toxic enough to use for this purpose, and none come from the Dendrobates genus, which is most characterized by the brilliant color and complex patterns of its member species. The most poisonous of these frogs is the two-inch-long Golden Poison Frog from the genus Phyllobates.

Most poison dart frogs have brightly colored skin which is used as a warning sign to predators. These frogs can be very small, ranging in size from one to six centimeters in length, depending on the age, sex, and the species of the frog. They are mostly common in very tropical humid environments. Dart frogs are dangerous species and can be very hard to handle since they have so much poison in them. They are the only animal in the world known to be able to kill a human by touch alone. They can jump as far as 2 inches. There are 150 species of dart frogs, and most are known to sport a variety of bright, beautiful colors.

Poison frogs in captivity

While there is little scientific study on the lifespan of poison dart frogs, estimates range from 3 to 15 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity. Poison dart frogs are commonly bred in captivity to be non-toxic. Most species reach maturity around 1.5 to 2.5 years of age.

Yellow-banded poison dart frog Dendrobates leucomelas
Yellow-banded poison dart frog Dendrobates leucomelas

The easiest way to determine the sex of a particular species of poison dart frog is by observation of behavior. Mature male frogs will usually make a mating call after eating or after a heavy misting of water. The sound is similar to that of a series of high-pitched "clicks".

The poison dart frog's enemy is a frog-eating snake. In juvenile frogs, the sex can sometimes be determined by the profile of the amphibian. The backs of males usually slope down with less of a break than females. Females are usually rounder and show a bigger break. Another way to sex some species of these frogs is by their toes. Females of some Dendrobates species have narrow toes all the way down, while the male's toes are wide at the ends. Mature males of some species also show a small section of grey skin on their neck. This is where the mating call is produced.

These frogs eat ants, termites, small beetles, house crickets, fruit flies, spring tails, wax worms, spiders and other tiny bugs without backbones. All species of poison dart frogs are tropical in origin. In captivity, most species thrive where the humidity is kept constant at 80-100% and where the temperature is around 72-80°F (22-27°C) during the day and no lower than 60-65°F (16-18°C) at night. Some species tolerate lower temperatures better than others.These frogs are generally found in tropical rainforests. The rainforests are in Hawaii, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Europe and Nicaragua. Poison dart frogs tend to live in trees as tall as 20 feet, and on the ground.

Subspecies and morphs

Some species include a number of subspecies and morphs. Different subspecies represent geographically separated populations of the same species in the wild, showing different coloration. For example, the species Dendrobates tinctorius includes at least a dozen morphs and subspecies. Subspecies and morphs of very different coloration have historically been misidentified as separate species, and there is still some controversy among taxonomists over the classification of various frogs. For example, the species Dendrobates azureus may simply be a subspecies of Dendrobates tinctorius, and not a separate species.

See also



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