Golden poison dart frog

Golden poison dart frog

Dendrobates auratus

Conservation status: IUCN – LC (Least concern), CITES – Appendix II.

Geographic range: Colombia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama. Introduced to the USA. 

Physical description: These dart frogs have many colour variants, but most of them are black and either green or light blue, with the black in bands or spots. Adult individuals are 3-4 cm long and weigh 2-3 g. Their bright colours are believed to encourage predators with a color vision to avoid the frogs.

Biology: These are primitively social amphibians that live in small groups. There is usually a dominant male with a few females per group. Males are very territorial and fight for their territory, warning each other with various moves and poses. The frog itself doesn’t actually produce the crippling neurotoxins in its skin. These are produced as a product of certain insects in their diet (especially ants) and later secreted through its skin glands. In captivity, they usually lose this defence mechanism due to the deliberate removal of toxin-producing items from their diet. Local Indians often use the toxins to smear their javelins and arrows and they are also being examined for use in the pharmaceutical industry.  

Lifespan: 6-8 years.

Food habits: Flies, ants, spiders, termites and other small insects.

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