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Poison Frogs: Dendrobatidae

Conservation Status

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) lists seventy-nine species—thirty-eight percent of all of the species in the family—as being at some risk. It also considers ninety-three others—another forty-five percent—as Data Deficient, which means that too little information is available to make a judgment about the threat of extinction.

Of the seventy-nine at-risk species, the IUCN lists nineteen as Critically Endangered and facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. Several of these species, including the skunk frog and the Bloody Bay poison frog, have had huge drops in number during recent years. In just three generations, which would include the grandparents, parents, and children, the number of Bloody Bay poison frogs has plunged by eighty percent. In other words, for every one hundred individuals in the grandparents' generation, this species has only twenty individuals left in the children's generation. The number of skunk frogs also dropped by eighty percent in just a ten-year period. In the skunk frog's case, the decline is probably due to a loss of their habitat as people have built roads, farms, and ranches. In addition, a dry spell has lowered the level of water where the frogs mate and may have hurt the young. In the case of the Bloody Bay frog, scientists are not certain, but they think infection with a type of fungus may have been to blame for the frogs' disappearance. This fungus, called chytrid (KIT-rid) fungus, has killed members of many different frog species worldwide and may be hurting some of the other poison frogs, too.

Many of the Critically Endangered poison frogs are very rare and live in small areas that are being destroyed or are under other threats from human activities, like the clearing of land through logging or the use of farm pesticides that are dangerous to frogs, including their eggs and tadpoles.

Besides the nineteen Critically Endangered species, thirty are Endangered and facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild; sixteen are Vulnerable and facing a high risk of extinction in the wild; and fourteen are Near Threatened and at risk of becoming threatened with extinction in the future. Some, like the splendid poison frog, were once common but are now extremely rare and may even be extinct. The IUCN currently lists the splendid poison frog as Endangered, noting its popularity in the pet trade and the loss of its habitat as likely causes for its much lower numbers. Scientists are unsure whether any of the frogs still live in the wild.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceAmphibiansPoison Frogs: Dendrobatidae - Physical Characteristics, Geographic Range, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Poison Frogs And People, Conservation Status - HABITAT