Poison Frogs: Dendrobatidae - Golden Dart-poison Frog (phyllobates Terribilis): Species Accounts
Physical characteristics: Golden dart-poison frogs, also known as golden poison frogs, come in different colors. In one, called the golden phase, the frogs have a yellow to orange yellow back and head and large dark eyes. Their legs may be yellow, orange yellow, or slightly greenish. In the mint green phase, the frogs' backs and legs are a very light greenish white color. The undersides of golden or mint phase golden frogs may have a few dark marks here and there, especially on the legs where they meet the body. Their backs are often quite smooth and shiny, but their back legs may have small bumps on them. Sometimes, their backs are also covered with tiny bumps. They have strong back legs for leaping and thin front legs. The head is short and becomes narrower toward the tip of the snout, giving it a triangular shape. They have a wide mouth that crosses the snout and reaches around the sides of the head, past each eye to a spot below the eardrum, which can be seen as a round area behind and below each eye. Females are usually a bit larger than males, but only barely. Females usually are 1.6 to 1.85 inches (4 to 4.7 centimeters) long from snout to rump, while males are usually 1.5 to 1.8 inches (3.8 to 4.5 centimeters) in length.
Geographic range: The golden dart-poison frog lives in Cauca, Colombia, which is in northwestern South America.
Habitat: It is found on land in lowland rainforests along the west coast of Colombia up to 656 feet (200 meters) above sea level. The tadpoles hatch in freshwater, but the exact kind of water body is unknown.
Diet: Adults eat various small arthropods, including insects.
Behavior and reproduction: Rather than climbing into trees like some of the other poison frogs do, the golden dart-poison frog stays on the ground. It is active during the daytime, when it hops about in plain view. It is one of the most poisonous animals on Earth. The poison in its skin is so powerful that even a tiny amount in another animal's bloodstream, including that of a human being, is enough to cause death. Called batrachotoxin (buh-TRAK-oh-tox-in), the poison attacks the nervous system.
Golden dart-poison frogs and people: This frog can be seen in the pet trade, but it is not common. Some local people use the poison in the frog's skin to make deadly darts. The golden dart-poison frog is one of only three species of frogs—the other two are closely related species—that are used to make the darts.
Conservation status: The World Conservation Union (IUCN) considers the golden dart-poison frog to be Endangered, which means that it faces a very high risk of extinction in the wild. Although the frog is common where it lives, it lives only in a tiny area and only in places where the forest has never been cut. Conservationists are not sure whether it could survive if the trees were ever removed and are concerned because forests near the frog are already falling as people remove trees for lumber and to make way for farms or buildings. Conservationists also think that the spray poisons farmers use to kill crop-eating insects could hurt the frogs. So far, the frog's habitat is not protected from logging, but it is now illegal to capture the frogs from the wild. ∎
- Poison Frogs: Dendrobatidae - Phantasmal Poison Frog (epipedobates Tricolor): Species Accounts
- Poison Frogs: Dendrobatidae - Conservation Status
- Other Free Encyclopedias