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Blue Poison Dart Frog

(Dendrobates tinctorius)

Overview

These little frogs are easily recognized by their blue color, which is generally darker on the limbs and belly and overlaid with black spots or patches, especially on the head and back.

As their name implies, poison dart frogs can release toxins from the skin that are distasteful and potentially lethal to would-be predators.

Blue poison dart frogs are active during the day and can be found hiding among boulders and debris near streams and among leaf litter on the forest floor; however, they lack toe webbing and are poor swimmers, so they are not found in the water.

The blue poison dart frog lays small clutches of five to six eggs. After the eggs hatch, the parents transfer tadpoles to individual pools of water, where they finish development. At the Aquarium, we replicate this by raising tadpoles in small individual containers of water.

A Note From the Caretaker

Blue poison dart frogs generally live about 10 to 15 years. At the Aquarium, one frog lived to be 23!

Quick Facts

Learn more about the blue poison dart frog! Did you know that this colorful frog was not discovered by scientists until 1968?

These frogs are found in a few isolated “rain forest islands” in the Sipaliwini savanna of southern Suriname.

This area was probably covered by rain forest habitat in the distant past—until the last ice age. The rain forests have since given way to dry grassland in all but a few areas where surface groundwater was sufficient to sustain the original vegetation. The blue poison dart frog lives in a few isolated patches of relic rain forest habitat.

A constant forager, this frog is always searching for mites, termites, tiny beetles and any other small insect it may find among leaf litter.

An adult frog has a body about 2 inches long and weighs about 0.3 ounce.

The habitat is remote and difficult to reach, so accurate population monitoring is a challenge. Regardless of numbers, this species is highly vulnerable to both human activities and natural factors, such as drought, due to its extremely small range and isolated populations.

Adult dart frogs have few predators, but the tadpoles, which contain no toxins, often fall prey to other amphibians, reptiles and predatory invertebrates.

Meet the Expert Ken Howell

As the curator of the Upland Tropical Rain Forest, Amazon River Forest and Australia: Wild Extremes exhibits, Ken starts his day early, walking through each exhibit.

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