Arrowhead frogs are among the most poisonous animals in the world, despite their small size and attractive appearance. Actually, it is about various species of tiny amphibians that possess a powerful toxin in their body.
Popularly, we call 'arrow frog' different species of anuran amphibians that make up the superfamily Dendrobatidae. At present, more than 180 species of dendrobatids are known, which are usually divided into three subfamilies. All of them are strictly related to the family of amphibians aromoatids.
Dart poisonous frogs are endemic in South America and Central America, and adapt to very different geographies. The greatest biodiversity of these amphibians is found in Costa Rica and Panama, but they are also abundant in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. In addition, a species has been introduced in Hawaii, where they are considered invasive.
Despite being very small, the arrow frog attracts a lot of attention because of the intense colors of its skin.The striking chromatic patterns are an alert for predators, because they indicate their high toxicity. Currently, only two birds and a snake are known to be immune to its venom, and can easily attack them.
Curiously, The powerful batraciotoxin of the skin of poisonous frogs is not synthesized by its own organism. Actually, they ingest different insects (depending on the species and their habitat), which are responsible for the neurotoxin. In this way, the poison penetrates your body and is used as a defense mechanism.
The large family of dendrobatids includes species with many peculiarities, but they share essential characteristics. Next, we will look at the five most recognized and prominent arrow frog types.
The golden arrow frog (Phyllobates terribilis)
The golden frog is the most poisonous species of its family and also one of the most lethal animals in the world. It is estimated that only one gram of its toxin may be capable of killing 5 000 individuals. Therefore, it is considered the 'arrow frog' par excellence. This species is endemic on the Pacific coast of Colombia.
Frog red and blue arrow (Oophaga pumilio)
These small poisonous amphibians are well known for their polymorphism. Despite being popularly called 'red and blue arrow frog', this species can exhibit a wide variety of colorations. There are unicoloured and bicoloured specimens, with or without spots, and their tonalities can vary.
Its pattern of aposematic coloration is very striking, which indicates its high toxicity. This species obtains the powerful poison of its skin from the consumption of ants that synthesize batraciotoxin.
Blue arrow frog (Dendrobates azureus)
This species is one of the smallest in the dendrobatid family, with an average size between 40 and 50 millimeters. The males are smaller and thinner than the females and, moreover, they usually sing when they reach adulthood. Its natural habitat extends from Southern Surinam to much of the Brazilian Amazon.
Different shades of blue may appear on your body, from lighter shades to a dark purple tone. Each copy usually presents black spots of different designs and sizes.
Frog granulated arrowhead (Oophaga granulifera)
This arrow frog is not as famous as the previous ones, but it is interesting to mention it, since It is one of the few species that has an opposite pattern of toxicity-coloration. That is to say, in these frogs, the less showy specimens show greater toxicity.
Originally, This species is endemic to the humid forests of the Golfo Dulce of Costa Rica. However, its continuity is threatened by the devastation of its habitat.
The peculiar popular name of these diverse species is due to their importance for the indigenous tribes of the American continent; In those villages we find the origin of this small amphibian.
The native peoples took advantage of the toxins of these amphibians for the darts or arrows they used to hunt and defend themselves. Therefore, these small amphibians played a central role in the survival of indigenous families.
Another curiosity is that, As the arrow frog does not produce its own poison, it can be harmless in a controlled environment. Also, their breeding in captivity is not recommended, as they find their optimal conditions of development in their natural habitat.