The poison dart frogs or dendrobates are possibly the most beautiful family of amphibians on the planet. But nevertheless, Their colors warn that they are highly poisonous: in fact, they are the most toxic animals that exist. Learn a little more about these amazing amphibians.
Characteristics of poison dart frogs
The family of poison dart frogs is actually made up of almost 200 different species. As they are close relatives, all these amphibians have a few characteristics in common.
The size of the poisonous dart frogs changes depending on the species and the age of each specimen, but They are quite small compared to the rest of the amphibians we know; the smallest ones are half a centimeter long and the large ones barely reach three and a half centimeters.
All have diurnal habits, that is, they have their maximum activity during the day and the night they spend resting or hiding. Thanks to their toxicity they do not have predators, so they do not have to camouflage themselves in the twilights or at night, like many other animals.
The most striking aspect of these animals are their colors. Its appearance is due to a survival strategy employed by other animals. With its bright colors it attracts the attention of its predators to alert them that they are highly poisonous. Its poison is so powerful that it is capable of killing a human being just by touching its skin.
After several studies it has been found that, in fact, how many more colors do the frogs of this family have and how much more striking their color patterns, more poison possess. The most poisonous species is the golden frog, but there is a wide range of colors in the family: yellow, blue, red and brown. They can be plain, with darker colored spots and even striped.
Feeding the poison dart frogs
These amphibians generally feed on small arthropods. That is, ants, scoops, termites, mites … The specific diet depends on the species of frog. The largest amphibians will eat the largest insects, while the smallest have to settle for mites and ants.
From their diet they extract their venom, since the poisonous dart frogs are not able to synthesize it by themselves. Through the arthropods that they eat, they store the toxins present in them and store them in the skin. Since these toxins do not affect them, they become poisonous to other animals.
In fact, dart dart frogs that live in captivity and that have a diet provided by humans, they stop feeding on the arthropods that supply them with the toxins: in a few weeks they stop being poisonous, even though they are well fed and healthy.
Poison dart frogs habitat
The family of poison dart frogs is located only in Central and South America. Their habitat goes from Nicaragua to Bolivia, and they can appear on some Caribbean island; In addition, they have been introduced artificially in Hawaii. There is a greater variety of species in the areas of Panama, Costa Rica, the Colombian Andes and the Andean areas of Peru and Ecuador.
They can be found in very different ecosystems: they like the areas with a lot of vegetation and a very high humidity. In addition, temperatures must be high and constant throughout the year. In this way, they live in the cloud forests, the tropical jungles and in the Andean forests. They can be found at 3,000 meters above sea level.
Its name comes from the belief that the tribes of the forests and tropical forests used them to poison their arrows. We currently know that only four species of the total that make up this family are used by these people in their arms. In fact, they prefer to use poisonous plants for this work.
There are no large studies on the population of poison dart frogs to know if they are in danger of extinction or not. But nevertheless, it is known that they have lost large areas of their ecosystems recently and they have borne a plague of a deadly disease for them.
In addition, they are victims of poaching to turn them into exotic pets. There is no real data on how many frogs of this family are at liberty, but some species have been included in the list of threatened animals in order to start putting preventive and warning measures before it is too late.
Poison dart frogs are animals with the most amazing colors of nature. Thanks to their evolutionary strategy, they are also the most poisonous. They are endemic to the humid ecosystems of Central and South America. They are hard to find in freedom, but if you do, do not touch them.