Poison Dart Frog

Blue Poison Dart Frog - Jersey Zoo 01

Dendrobates Azureus from Surinam, South America

For more information http://aqua.org/animals_bluepoisondartfrog.html

Green & Black Poison Dart Frog - Jersey Zoo  02

Dendrobates auratus from Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama & Colombia, South America

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Golden Poison Dart Frog - Jersey Zoo 03

Phyllobates terribilis from Colombia, South America

Poison Dart Frog or Poison Arrow Frog

RANGE: Central and South America

HABITAT: Rainforests near water sources

SIZE: 1/2 inch to 2 inches

NOTES: As a warning to predators of their extreme toxicity Poison Dart Frogs are spectacularly coloured. The poison comes via eating insects (ants in particular) which have, in turn, eaten certain plants containing the toxins. Depending on their diet captive specimens may not be poisonous like their wild counterparts.

A few contain poison that can kill human beings by entering through cuts, the mouth or even permeating unbroken skin. The poison is like curare and affects the heart and may cause hallucinations.The skin is used as a poison for blowgun darts and arrows by some tribes of the rainforest of Colombia. The yellow Golden Poison Dart frog photographed above (living up to its latin species name "terribilis") is  reputedly the deadliest creature in the world with enough poison in it to kill 10 humans. Medical research on these species may lead, for example, to pain killers massively more powerful than morphine without, it is hoped, associated human addictiveness and toxicity.

These frogs normally live on the forest floor but when breeding venture into the canopy of rainforest. Some poison dart frogs place their tadpoles in pools in jungle plants. This is where the tadpoles stay until they develop fully into frogs. Poison dart frogs return to their tadpoles many times and leave their own eggs for the tadpoles to eat. No one knows how the frogs remember where their babies have been left.

CONSERVATION: threatened by loss of their tropical rain forest habitat.

"One of the smallest but most powerful amphibians caught by us in Guyana was the poison arrow frog. These are small tree frogs, each measuring perhaps an inch and a half long, and decked out in the most wonderful colours and patterns. There are several species, and they might be red and gold striped on a cream background, or any other combination of colours. They are very lovely little things, and a jam jar full of them looks more like a mass of highly-coloured sweets than live creatures.

To the Indian tribes these little frogs are most useful. They catch a number and put them close to a fire. As soon as the frogs start to become hot they exude a kind of slime from their bodies, which the Indians scrape off and collect. This slime prepared in special way, is a most potent poison, and the Indians use it to dip the tips of their arrows in. Thus, when the arrow strikes an animal - even a quite powerful one, like a wild pig - the poison works very rapidly and kills the beast. So, for the Indians, each of these little tree frogs is a miniature poison factory in itself, and whenever they need fresh material fo their arrows they go off into the forest and collect a number of the frogs from which to manufacture it."

THE NEW NOAH © Gerald Durrell 1955

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