Poison Dart Frog: Profile and Information

Poison Dart Frog

A poison dart frog or arrow frog is a widespread name that is peculiar to frogs belonging to the family called Dendrobatidae that are native to South America and the tropics of Central America.

These species of frogs are usually active during the day (diurnal), usually displaying bright coloration on their bodies. The bright coloration on these species corresponds with the toxicity of these species making them to become aposematic in nature.

As some of the Dendrobatidae species of dart-poison frog exhibit coloration to a great degree and this high level of coloration goes with corresponding high toxicity, others exhibit cryptic coloration with little or no toxicity.

Scientific Classification

  • Scientific Name: Dendrobatidae
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Amphibia
  • Order: Anura
  • Clade: Hyloidea
  • Superfamily: Dendrobatidae
  • Family: Dendrobatidae, Cope, 1865


Usually, several species of dart frogs are minute, measuring less than 0.59 inches in adult length. It is only a relatively small group that develop up to 2.4 inches in measurement. On the average, poison dart frogs weigh 1 oz.

Most of these poison dart frogs use their bright coloration to exhibit aposematic patterns in order to ward off predators. The level of alkaloids and toxicity of poison dart frogs is usually associated with their bright coloration.

Poison dart frogs are fitting examples of organisms that are aposematic. Currently, aposematism is believed to have originated within the poison dart frog’s family for at least four times according to phylogenetic trees, as such, dendrobatidae frogs have since gone through dramatic changes (both intraspecific and inter specific) in their aposematic coloration.

Adult dart frogs usually lay eggs in damp places including plants, leaves, etc. As soon as the eggs are hatched, the adult carries the tadpoles on it’s back one after the other to a body of water that is suitable. The tadpoles are now left to remain there until they are metamorphosed.


Poison dart frogs are usually found in humid and tropical environments of South and Central America. They are also found generally in tropical rainforests, including in Colombia, Brazil, Suriname, Ecuador, Bolivia, French Guiana, Panama, Guyana etc.

Natural habitats of poison dart frog comprise of tropical and subtropical, humid, tropical and subtropical high-altitude shrub and, lowland forests, subtropical or tropical, lakes and swamps. Other species of poison dart frog

Other species occur in seasonally humid or flooded lowland meadows, farmland, pastureland, rural gardens, plantations, humid savannas, and severely degraded former forests. Pre-mountainous forests and rocky areas are also known to house frogs.

Dendrobatids usually live on or near the ground, but also in trees that are up to 10 m above the ground.


Most of poison dart frog species in the genera Ranitomenya and Oophaga piggyback freshly hatched tadpoles into the cover. The tadpoles on the other hand glue to the mucus on the back of their parents.

The parents dispatch their progeny in water the accumulate in epiphytic plants like bromeliads. The tadpoles depend on invertebrates as their main source of food in their nursery as their mothers further lay eggs in the water in order to supplement their diet.

The fertilization of eggs in poison dart frogs are carried out externally. Here, the female lays a clump of eggs and after that, the male fertilizes the egg just as it is done in most fish.

Similar to the way most frogs mate, Poison dart frogs are usually seen as Clinching to each other. Nevertheless, these displays are referred to as territorial wrestling matches.

The females and males are constantly involved in disputes over territory. The males usually wrestle to conquer the most prominent roosts where they can carry out their mating calls while the females fight over prominent best even going to the extent of raiding and taking over the best of other females and almost consuming the competitor’s eggs.


Most poison dart frogs release lipophilic alkaloid toxins like allopumiliotoxin 267A, histrionic toxin, pumiliotoxin 251D, batrachotoxin, epibatidine, via their skin.

The alkaloids in the skin glands of poison dart frogs act as a chemical defense fluid against threat and predation, and hence, are able to be active in conjunction with prospective predators during daytime.

The species of poison dart frog that are very toxic are known as phyllobatew terribilis.

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