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Poison Dart Frog



Fascinating Facts

  • Poison dart frogs get their toxicity from some of the insects they eat which have feed on plants that have toxins.
  • The only natural predator of most of the poison dart frog family is a snake called Leimadophis epinephelus, which has developed a resistance to the frogs' poison.

Physical Characteristics

There are 40 species of Dendrobates poison dart frogs. All have bright coloration (aposematic coloration), which warns predators of their toxic skin secretions (alkaloids obtained from insects they eat). They are small frogs, most are no bigger than a paper clip. They have a long, sticky tongue that darts out and captures their prey. Each foot contains four toes which each have a flattened tip with a suction cup pad which is used for gripping and clinging to vegetation in its habitat. They lack webbing and are poor swimmers and are found near water but not in it.


This frog is found in Southern Central America and north and central South America. They live in tropical rainforests. They are diurnal, terrestrial; breed in trees, and carnivorous. They eat small invertebrates, particularly ants, which give them their poisonous properties in most cases. In the Zoo, they eat pinhead crickets and fruit flies.

Social Behavior

The males are territorial, calling to advertise to females and to defend their area. Calls are species dependent and can be anything from a buzz to trilling whistles. Females are slightly less territorial, and do not call, but will wrestle with other females over their space. They can live 3-15 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity.

Status In The Wild

Many species are threatened by habitat loss and over-collection for the pet trade.


The Poison Dart Frog is temporarily off exhibit during the renovation of the South American Rainforest building.