Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates pumilio)

This full-grown male poison dart frog is only about 3/4 of an inch long (2 cm)! It lives on the floor of the rainforest, hopping among leaves and up some logs to sing. Here it is singing to a mate or to warn some other males off.

These frogs are very good parents. The females lay the eggs inside of leaf-cups made by Bromeliad plants. The parents take care of the tadpoles after they hatch, often transporting them to other leaf-cups.

This type of poison dart frog is not too dangerous, but some have toxic chemicals in their skin that are so dangerous they can kill a person. The poison in poison dart frogs is to keep predators from eating them, and the bright colors are to warn a predator that the frog is poisonous.

Poison dart frogs got their names because some native South Americans use their poison to make poisonous darts for hunting. They capture the frogs by using a leaf to pick it up, so the poison doesn't get on their hands. They rub the tip of the dart in the poisonous mucous of the frog's skin and the arrow is ready for the blowgun. The particular species of frog they use produces a very potent poison, and the darts are so poisonous that they will kill monkeys and other big animals.

Copyright 1997-2007 Gerald R. Urquhart. For information on using this website in your classroom (which is free and highly encouraged), please contact Dr. Urquhart by email, urquhar5@msu.edu. Also, please send any comments or corrections to Dr. Urquhart.