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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Species Fact Sheet: Terrible Poison Dart Frog (Phyllobates terribilis)

Golden Poison Dart Frog
Phyllobates terribilis (Myers, Daly, and Malkin, 1978)

Range: Northern Colombia
Habitat: Lowland Rainforest
Diet: Ants, Termites, Beetles
Social Grouping: Solitary, Small Groups
Reproduction: Polygynandrous (males and females both have multiple mates).  Mate year round.  Eggs are laid in clutches of 20, carried on the backs of the male to a small pool of water, where they undergo metamorphosis.  Eggs hatch after 12 days.  Sexually mature at 12-18 months.
Lifespan: 5 Years
Conservation Status: IUCN Endangered

  • Largest of the poison dart frogs, body length 4.5-5.5 centimeter, with females growing larger than males
  • Unlike many other dart frogs, coloration is uniform, ranging from mint green (sometimes almost white) to deep orange, though yellow is the most common color; adults are more brightly colored than juveniles (juveniles also retain some striping, which fades with age)
  • A bony plate on the lower jaw gives this species the appearance of having teeth
  • The most toxic of poison dart frogs, their skin contains an alkaloid poison that blocks nerve transmissions and can cause paralysis; source of toxicity may be beetles of the genus Choresine
  • Hunt prey with stalk/attack motions, seizing insects with an adhesive tongue
  • Diurnal, terrestrial, not climbers; very bold, often seen out in the open with no fear of predators
  • Only known predators is a small snake (Liophis epinephelus) which feeds on young frogs but is too small to take adults, it appears to have immunity to the toxins of the frog
  • Captives display learning abilities and are quick to form associations, especially with anything pertaining to feeding
  • One of the only poison dart frog species known to be used for poisoning darts; darts can stay lethal for up to 2 years of being moistened with frog venom
  • Poisons of this species are being studied for medicinal properties, especially as pain killers or heart stimulants

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