Dendrobatidae family

Range: Central and South America

Habitat: Humid, tropical rainforest.

Conservation status: Loss of rainforest habitat threatens the continued existence of these animals.

Poison Arrow Frog

  • • 12 genera, more than 170 different species
    • All are tiny and brightly colored
    • Bright colors warn other animals that they are not fit to eat because of the strong poison (alkaloid) secreted by their skin glands.
    • Native peoples hold speared frogs over fires, causing the skin glands to "sweat" poison. This poison is concentrated and arrows are dipped into the solution and used to shoot small animals, paralyzing them.
    • In the wild, eats termites, crickets, ants, and fruit flies. Chemicals are derived from their food and synthesized into cutaneous poisons. When captive bred, these chemicals are not found in the food sources. Wild-caught frogs retain their poison for a long time.
    • Good parents – at least some of these tiny frogs are one of the few amphibians that care for their young. For example, the bright red frogs: female lays eggs on the ground; the male fertilizes them, then attaches the fertilized eggs to his back where they remain until hatching into tadpoles that he carries to water where they swim free. Frequently this water is in a Bromeliad plant high above the ground.
    • Scientists are studying the medicinal value of the toxins produced by poison dart frogs.
    • Frogs lose their “poison” within a short time of being placed in captivity. Scientists conclude that something in the native diet is required for poison production, but have not yet been able to figure out what.
    • Unfortunately, loss of rainforest habitat threatens the continued existence of these animals.

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