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Poison Frogs: Dendrobatidae

Blue-toed Rocket Frog (colostethus Caeruleodactylus): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: The blue-toed rocket frogs are named for their blue toes. During the breeding season, the males have blue front toes and blue pads on their back toes. Females have blue pads on both front and back toes during the breeding season, but their front toes are not all blue, as they are in males. Besides the blue toes and/or toe pads, the frogs have brown backs and heads and white chins and bellies. They have long hind legs and short front legs. The head narrows to a rather triangular-shaped snout. Females may be just a bit bigger than the males. Adult females usually grow to 0.59 to 0.67 inches (1.5 to 1.7 centimeters) from snout to rump, while males typically reach no more than 0.63 inches (1.6 centimeters).

The blue-toed rocket frogs are named for their blue toes. During the breeding season, the males have blue front toes and blue pads on their back toes. Females have blue pads on both front and back toes during the breeding season, but their front toes are not all blue, as they are in males. (Illustration by Joseph E. Trumpey. Reproduced by permission.)

Geographic range: Blue-toed rocket frogs have only been found in one place: about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil.

Habitat: The frogs live in a small piece of tropical rainforest valley that is flooded with water during the rainy season. The floods rush water into rivers of the valley, causing the rivers to overflow into small streams and create deep pools in the streams. The frogs live among the dead leaves that cover the slopes of forest floor above the streams. Their tadpoles develop in the deep stream pools.

Diet: Adult blue-toed rocket frogs eat various small arthropods, including insects.

Behavior and reproduction: Blue-toed rocket frogs live on land. The males set up territories that are about one thousand square feet (ten square meters). To keep others away, a male will give a short, loud call. Males and females mate on land during the rainy season, which lasts from January through April. Each female lays her eggs on the forest floor, hiding them away in folded or rolled leaves. The male then stays with his eggs, usually about nineteen in each clutch, even after they hatch into tadpoles. When the rainy season ends and the ground begins to dry up, the male carries all of the tadpoles to deep pools in the streams, where the tadpoles continue to grow.

Blue-toed rocket frogs and people: Very few people have ever seen this frog.

Conservation status: Too little information is available about this frog to make a judgment about the threat of extinction, so the World Conservation Union (IUCN) lists it as Data Deficient. Scientists only recently discovered this frog, naming it in 2001. They found it in just one spot, where it was very common, and have not yet found it anywhere else. The scientists believe that the logging of the forest would cause it to become extinct. The frogs' forest is on private property and therefore not protected from logging. ∎



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Web sites:

"Blue Poison Frog." Henson Robinson Zoo. http://www.hensonrobinsonzoo.org/a002.html (accessed on April 14, 2005).

"Dendrobates. WhoZoo. http://www.whozoo.org/Intro98/jenntrev/jendex3.html (accessed on April 14, 2005).

"Frog Chemist Creates a Deadlier Poison." Science News for Kids. http://www.sciencenewsforkids.org-articles-20030910-Note3.asp (accessed on April 14, 2005).

"Frogs Get Poison from Ants." Science News for Kids. http://www.sciencenewsforkids.org-articles-20040512-Note3.asp (accessed on April 14, 2005).

"Phyllobates terribilis 'Mint'." Frog of the Month, Arachnokulture. http://www.pumilio.com/frogofthemonth/december2001.htm (accessed on April 14, 2005).

"Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates pumilio)." Basic Science and Remote Sensing Initiative, Michigan State University. http://www.bsrsi.msu.edu/rfrc/tour/dendrobates.html (accessed on April 14, 2005).

"Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates pumilio)." Woodland Park Zoo. http://www.zoo.org/educate/fact_sheets/psn_frog/psn_frog.htm (accessed on April 14, 2005).

"Poison Dart Frogs." Smithsonian National Zoological Park. http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/Amazonia/Facts/fact-poisondartfrog.cfm (accessed on April 14, 2005).

"Poison Dart Frogs, Mantellas, etc." All About Frogs. http://allaboutfrogs.org/info/species/poison.html (accessed on April 14, 2005).

Additional topics

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