Dart Poison Frogs



There are approximately 170 species of dart poison frogs. Most are terrestrial and active during the day. They move about the forest floor and climb vegetation growing on tree trunks. With their short, but strong hind limbs, they are agile climbers and jumpers. They are not generally known for their swimming skills, however, and they rarely venture into the water.

Many dart poison frogs have complex social lives that include a variety of territorial, courtship, and parenting routines. When they are guarding their turf, they will call, chase, and even wrestle with intruders. Many species work in pairs to raise their young.


Dart poison frogs eat ants, termites, and other insects. Because they have little fear of other animals, they feed during the daytime.

Life Cycle

To attract a mate, male dart poison frogs sound off a courtship call. The female follows the male to a covered site, such as the leaf litter, where she can lay her clutch of eggs. To brood the eggs, both the male and female will periodically moisten them. When the tadpoles hatch, after about two weeks, one of the parents will carry them on its back to a suitable stream, pond, or pool where they can safely grow. Some species, such as the strawberry poison frog, will return to check up on the tadpoles. The female strawberry poison frog will lay an infertile egg for each tadpole to eat. Tadpoles generally transform into froglets by two months, and become mature adults by ten months. They can live four to six years or even longer.

Population Status & Threats

Due to over-collection and habitat destruction, all dart poison frog species are dwindling in the wild. Some, like the granular poison frog, are listed as vulnerable; others, like the strawberry poison frog, are considered of least concern. Like all amphibians, poison frogs have porous skin and respond quickly to changes in their surroundings. The health of these populations can signal the health of the environment.

WCS Conservation Efforts

Many amphibian populations are in trouble, due to habitat destruction, pollution, poaching, the deadly chytrid fungus, and global warming. Since 1980, at least 120 amphibians have disappeared. Amphibians now face an extinction crisis unprecedented since the age of the dinosaurs. To help reverse the tide, WCS conservationists are working around the world to understand the needs of those species in danger, and to help them recover.

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