Poison Dart Frogs

Poison Dart Frogs are highly toxic poisonous frogs native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. They are generally a primary color, up to 2.4 in in length, and 1 oz in weight. One wild Golden Poison Dart frog is known to have enough toxins to kill 10 adult men.

Stunning Deadly Poison Dart Frogs
Common NamePoison Dart Frog
Other NamesPoison Arrow Frog, Dart Frog
Scientific NameDendrobatidae
LocationsSouth America
Central South America
CharacteristicsSmall body with brightly colored skin 
ColorYellow, gold, copper, red, green, blue, black
OriginSouth America
Conservation StatusEndangered
GenusAdelphobates, Colostethus, Ameerega,
Hyloxalus, Excidobates, Epipedobates,
Silverstoneia, Ranitomeya,
Phyllobates, Oophaga, Minyobates.
SpeciesAdelphobates spp., Colostethus spp.,
Ameerega spp., Hyloxalus spp.,
Excidobates spp., Epipedobates spp.,
Dendrobates spp., Silverstoneia spp.,
Ranitomeya spp., Phyllobates spp.,
Oophaga spp., Minyobates
Max Length2.4 in
Max Weight1 oz
Lifespan10 – 15 years

Unique Poison Dart Frog Characteristics

Poison Dart Frogs are the most toxic frogs known to man with some having enough poison to kill 10 grown men. They got their name from Native Americans that use their toxins on the tip of their arrows to kill prey and intruders.

Poison Dart Frog skin may be yellow, gold, copper, red, green, blue, or black with or without spots. Since they are very brightly colored, Poison Dart Frogs may seem attractive to humans. 

However, to predators, red, blue and yellow are very rare in nature and are known to be signs of toxicity. Therefore, these frogs have very few predators except one type of snake that has developed a tolerance to their toxins.

Poison Dart Frogs are very small and can be hard to spot in nature. They only grow to a few centimeters in length, with some adults as small as 1.5 cm, smaller than an inch. Females tend to be larger at around 2.4 inches. Since they are so small, they are very light and can easily hop around and climb trees. 

How to Spot Poison Dart Frogs

Unless you are in Nicaragua, Ecuador, Venezuela, Suriname, French Guiana, Peru, Panama, Guyana, Costa Rica, Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, or Hawaii, there are few chances you will find one of these frogs outside a pet store.

That being said, if you want to find a Poison Dart Frog in the wild, be sure to go with a guide because Poison Dart Frogs tend to be hidden in remote locations in the jungle which can be very dangerous at any time of day.

If you would like to spot Poison Dart Frogs in tropical rainforests, here are some tips that could be of help to you:

  • Never go searching for these frogs alone without a qualified guide
  • Be sure to bring an appropriate first aid kit just in case something happens
  • Poison Dart Frogs are primarily nocturnal animals so you may have to look for them at night with appropriate flashlights
  • These frogs like to stay wet and hydrated. They can generally be found on wet leaves, or at the base of trees near tree hollows.
  • They usually make a sound resembling a chirping during the mating season.
  • They are very bright colored and contrast with their environment
  • Do not touch them

Poison Dart Frogs are primarily arboreal frogs which means that they live in, on, and around trees. They generally like to remain near the forest floor at night in search of prey. Poison Dart Frogs have digits that can stick to surfaces and can climb up to 33 feet. Since their limbs are relatively small they can only leap short distances.

Interesting Facts About Poison Dart Frogs 

  • Native Americans use Poison Dart Frogs to create poison arrows.
  • Poison Dart Frog tadpoles develop in small puddles dispersed around the forest floor. Poison Dart Frogs remember exactly where they laid their eggs and return to the puddles to feed their tadpoles.
  • Female Poison Dart Frogs are usually bigger than males.
  • Poison Dart Frogs do not reproduce by amplexus. Instead, females lay their eggs first and then the male fertilizes them. 
  • Poison Dart Frogs can be very territorial and fight to defend their space.
  • One of Poison Dart Frogs biggest predators are their own species.
  • Although the number of eggs usually varies based on the species, most Poison Dart Frogs lay 2 to 12 eggs per clutch.
  • Poison Dart Frogs can reproduce multiple times per year since the conditions in which they live are favorable to reproduction year-round.
  • Poison Dart Frogs remain toxic thanks to the alkaloid ants they feed on in the wild.
  • Poison Dart Frogs generally are not poisonous when kept in captivity because they do not eat the foods that help them maintain their toxicity.
  • Golden Poison Dart Frogs are among the most toxic animals on earth and have enough toxins to kill 10 adult humans or 20,000 mice.

More About Poison Dart Frogs

Poison Dart Frogs are a fascinating species of frogs that are very well known among frog-lovers. Their bright colors are very intriguing but only from a safe distance because of their highly toxic nature. 

Learn more about Poison Dart Frogs on our blog

Common Questions About Poison Dart Frogs

Are Poison Dart Frogs poisonous? All species of Poison Dart Frogs are toxic to various degrees and depending on the species and their diet. Golden Poison Dart Frogs are the most toxic species with enough poison to kill 10 adults or 20,000 mice in the wild.

Can you keep a Poison Dart Frog as a pet? Poison Dart Frogs are popular pets among certain enthousats that take the appropriate precautions. However, keeping Poison Dart Frogs as pets is not for everyone and requires high maintenance. 

What do Poison Dart Frogs eat? Poison Dart Frogs mainly eat alkaloid ants responsible for maintaining their poisonous nature. Alkaloid compounds help the Poison Dart Frogs synthesize their poison. They also eat mites, wasps, and centipedes.

What are Poison Dart Frogs’ predators? Poison Dart Frogs only have one known predator, Leimadophis epinephelus, a species of snakes unaffected by their toxins. Other than this snake, the only other predator to Poison Dart Frogs is its own species which can be territorial and cannibal.

How many eggs do Poison Dart Frogs lay? Female Poison Dart Frogs usually lay 2 to 12 eggs per clutch in separate puddles around the forest floor. When the eggs transform into tadpoles, adult frogs may be fed them or transport them to the nearest stream to develop as tadpoles.

Are Poison Dart Frogs endangered? Most species of Poison Dart Frogs are threatened by habitat loss. Because they require a specific habitat to thrive, they cannot survive outside their native areas. Deforestation has led to a reduction in the number of these frogs over the years and they are prone to extinction.