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Poison dart frogs are members of the Dendrobatidae family and considered to be the most poisonous amphibians disguised in very small and brilliantly colorful packages.
See the fact file below for more information on the Poison dart frogs or alternatively, you can download our 26-page Poison Dart Frog worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Habitat and Anatomy
- Common Name: Poison Dart Frog
- Scientific Name: Dendrobatidae
- Class: Amphibia
- Order: Anura
- Diet: Carnivore
- Collective noun: Army
- Average Size: 1 inch
- Average Lifespan in the Wild: 3 to 15 years
- Poison dart frogs live in the rainforests of Central and South America. They are normally found under leaves, in trees, inside logs, on rocks, and other moist places.
- Despite being colorful, these type of frog are actually quite hard to see due to their small size, from a half to two inches long.
- American Indian hunters gave the frogs this name because they tip their arrows by rubbing it on the frog’s poisonous skin.
- Amphibians like poison dart frogs are tetrapods. The earliest of their kind existed about 400 to 350 million years ago. Their four-limbed ancestors were more like fish with legs.
- There are almost 200 species of poison dart frogs, all seen in brilliant colors of yellow, copper, gold, orange, green, red, blue or black. They prey on invertebrates including different ant species.
- Their elaborate designs and vibrant colors ward off potential predators. This defense tactic is called aposematic coloration.
- According to scientists, poison dart frogs assimilate plant poisons from eating prey like ants, termites and beetles. Much of its species contain fatal toxicity.
- The deadliest of its kind is the golden poison dart frog found only in Colombia. One frog can kill 10 adult men.
Basic Frog Morphology
- About one third of poison dart frog species are extremely toxic to human beings.
- When in danger, they secrete lipophilic alkaloid toxins through poison glands under the skin.
- Due to its toxicity, these kinds of frog have few predators. They can sometimes be fatal to snakes who usually feed on them. Only the leimadophis epinephelus, or fire-bellied snake, has an acquired resistance to such poison.
- Poison dart frogs have excellent eyesight and, unlike most frogs, are diurnal, which means they are active during the day.
- They use their long sticky tongue to catch their prey. Most insects are attracted to their bright colors, thus making hunting easy.
- During the rainy season (from mid-July to mid-September), male poison dart frogs attract females to mate. Females choose a partner after elaborate rituals of vocalization and territorial wrestling. Females lay up to 40 gelatinous eggs in a leafy place on the ground or in a tree. Parents take turns in keeping the eggs moist through sitting and urinating.
- Poison dart tadpoles hatch after two to four weeks of fertilization. The male parent carries tadpoles on its back and head. This act is called backpacking. Once the tadpoles enter the water, the female parent feeds them with unfertilized eggs and algae. As tadpoles, their colors are dull and indicate that they’re not poisonous.
- After 6 to 12 weeks, bright colors develop signaling their maturity and toxicity.
- Unlike the life cycle of most frogs, which lay eggs in water and hatch without any parental intervention, poison dart frogs are hands-on parents.
Additional Froggy Facts
- Green and black poison dart frogs are the only species introduced in the islands of Hawaii.
- Due to loss of habitat, pollution, market sales and environmental changes, golden poison dart and blue poison dart frogs are endangered. Some are collected for the illegal pet trade.
- According to studies, poison dart frogs raised in captivity may lose their poison because their diet doesn’t consist of the toxic insects wild frogs ordinarily eat. Instead, captive frogs munch on fruit flies, mealworms and crickets.
- In the 1970s, venom from poison dart frogs was developed into painkillers more effective than morphine. Although they had been tested on rats, scientists feared that they could still be too toxic for humans. After a decade, scientists found that the chemical structure of epibatidine found in poison dart frogs was similar to an experimental drug for treating Alzheimer’s disease.
- Symptoms of poison dart frog poisoning in humans include pain in the upper abdomen, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, liver and kidney problems or failure, stomach pain, fever, lung damage, skin lesions and heart damage.
- Colombia’s Embera tribe hunters regularly use poison dart frogs in hunting birds, monkeys and other edible animals.
- A tiny amount of toxin from a golden poison dart frog can lead to animal brain, muscle, and respiratory paralysis, and eventually death.
- The brighter poison dart frogs are more toxic.
Poison Dart Frog Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Poison Dart Frog across 26 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Poison Dart Frog worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Poison dart frogs which are members of the Dendrobatidae family and considered to be the most poisonous amphibians disguised in very small and brilliantly colorful packages.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Poison Dart Frog Facts
- Frog Anatomy
- World of Poison Dart Frogs
- Poison Dart Frog Species
- Developmental Life Stages
- Scientific Classification
- Fatal Attraction
- 3 Classes of Amphibians
- Mapping Poison Darts
- Drop Dead Gorgeous
- Devoted Parents
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Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.