Blue Poison Arrow Frog

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Range
Neotropical: Blue poison frogs are only found in the southern part of Suriname (or Surinam), South America. Other species of poison arrow frogs live throughout tropical South America from Costa Rica to southern Brazil.

Habitat
These frogs live in the tropical rainforest. They are considered terrestrial but usually stay near a water source, such as a pond or stream. These frogs are used to a dark, moist environment.

Distinguishing Characteristics
There are 4 main groups of poison arrow frogs: Dendrobates, Epipedobates, Minyobates and Phyllobates.

Poison arrow frogs are also called poison dart frogs, dart-poison frogs, dart frogs or dendrobatid frogs.

The blue poison frog is one of the most striking of the poison arrow frogs. It is a mid-sized frog in the Dendrobates family with its length ranging from 3.0 - 4.5 cm. They usually weigh approximately 3 grams. Poison arrow frogs vary in length from 1.5 cm - 7 cm. Dendrobates minutus are the smallest. Males can be distinguished from females by their larger front toe pads.

This beautiful, yet deadly, frog comes in a variety of blue colors which can range from a powder blue to a cobalt or sapphire blue. This frog also has black spots on its head.

As a family, poison arrow frogs cover the gamut of bright colors. They can be red, blue, green or yellow. They can also have a variety of color patterns from spots to stripes. There are 170 species of poison arrow frogs and most wear a bright splash of color.

Dietary Classification
Diet in the Wild: The blue poison frog, like most other frogs, enjoys a meal of termites, crickets, ants and fruit flies. Chemicals are derived from their food and synthesized into cutaneous poisons. When captive bred, these same chemicals are not found in the food sources.

Life Span
Can live 15-16 years in the wild and captive frogs can live up to 20 years

Behavior/Adaptations
Very little is known about the blue poison frog in the wild; however, we do know they are quite territorial, bold and agressive. Some say that with poison as their defense, they are fearless.

The skin of a poison arrow frog stays sticky from mucus. This feature helps to hold in moisture and it helps tadpoles hold on tight when they are being carried from hatching site to nursery site. The toes are also important. The suction cup pads are very helpful in climbling and clinging to leaves and branches. The bright coloration is the most obvious adaptation of these frogs. Although not all poison arrow frogs wear a bright warning flag, fewer poison arrow frogs are eaten during the day when predators can see them easier.

The poison itself is also a highly adaptive feature and a great survival tactic. Not many predators can withstand the poison of a poison arrow frog. Leimadophis epinephelus is one known snake which seems to be immune to most of this frog family's poison. The frog's poison is secreted through the skin and even a lick can sometimes prove fatal. Poison arrow frogs have about 200 micrograms of poison in their systems. It would take only 2 micrograms to kill a human.

A good rule of thumb regarding poison arrow frogs is "look but don't touch!"

Status
All species of poison arrow frogs are protected under CITES Appendix II. Poison arrow frogs are threatened by the depletion of the rainforest. Some species are commonly found in their range, but their range is small and shrinking fast. As their range shrinks, so do the populations. This wonderful habitat is home to many creatures. We need to protect it for them. Humans can also benefit from the rainforest -- look at the discovery of ABT-594! There may be countless medical breakthroughs existing within the flora and fauna of the rainforest. Unfortunately those resources may become extinct before we can ever utilize them. By protecting the rainforest we will protect Poison arrow frogs and all the other inhabitants that live within its shelter.