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dendrobates

Dendrobatids are brightly colored frogs known for the poison they secrete from their skins. They are also known as "poison dart frogs" because the secretions of some species of the genus Phylobates (some of which are so poisonous they are dangerous to handle) are used by the Choco in Colombia as a coating for blow darts used to tranquilize potential prey. 


 
Range: Brazil, Surinam and the Guineas of S. America
Habitat: Tropical rain forests and trees of course!
Diet in the wild: Toxic bugs and small invertebrates that are found in trees and leaf litter (fruit flies, ants, termites, etc.
Diet at the zoo: Dendrobates are very adaptable and readily accept flies and green aphids and other bugs
Status: Not threatened; some species are being captive bred
Location in the Zoo: Herpetarium

 
 
 
Physical Description: 20 to 50 mm from snout to tail. Dendrobates come in a rainbow of "warning" colors. Females are generally bigger (2 to 5 mm) and fatter, and some males in certain species have broader plates on their forelegs. Males also have an enlarged neck sack that is used to croak and pick up chicks.

 
 
General Information: Dendrobates are diurnal which means day active and very territorial as well and will wrestle one another over territorial disputes.

 
 
 
Mating and Frog Love Rituals: A male in his own territory will inflate his vocal sac to call a female that is ready to court. The female comes and follows the male to the site of egg laying and the two frogs may dance around one another or even rub noses. Mating procedures vary even within the same species.Sometimes the eggs are fertilized after the female has left. The male then may move the eggs about to make sure they are all fertilized. 

Clutches of eggs are small -- from 2 - 30 -- and the parents guard the eggs and keep them wet. A "nurse frog" collects hatching tadpoles on her back a few at a time, where they adhere to a sticky mucus. The tadpoles are delivered to a pool of water in a cup of leaves or in some other protected area. Only a few tadpoles are placed in each location, because crowded tadpoles become cannibals. 


 
Special Adaptations: Dendrobatids are brightly colored, which serves to warn potential predators. When the predators attempt to eat the frog they realize that they are poison and promptly spit them out. (It is apparent these frogs have a sick sense of humor)

 
 
 
Personal observations: The tiny colorful dendrobatids are popular pets and once captive bred and fed they lose their toxicity so there is no real risk (except financial) to keeping them as pets. The skin toxins are thought to be derived from the toxic products of plants eaten by insects and then passed on to frogs who eat the insects. In the absence of this source of their toxin, the frogs became relatively harmless.

                                                               Zoo Frogs:
                              There are 26 known species of frogs in
                                        the genus Dendrobates,
                             two of which reside at the Fort Worth Zoo



 
 
  

Blue poison  dart   frog 
 Dendrobates  azureus 

 
 
   Dyeing poison dart frog
Dendrobates tinctorius
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Dendrobate sources:
Walls, Jerry G. Keeping Poison frogs (2000)
(T.F. Press)

Davies, Robert and Valerie. The Reptile and Amphibian Problem Solver.
(1997, Tetra Press)

Corban, John The Proper Care of Amphibians.
(1992 T.F. Press)

The Baltimore Aquarium Web Page

The Froggy Page

Frogland

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Reptiles and Amphibians at the Fort Worth Zoo