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Frog, Golden Poison Dart

Golden Poison Dart Frog (Photo Credit: Tad Motoyama)

Scientific Name: Phyllobates terribilis

This frog is the most toxic amphibian as well as one of the most toxic animals in the world!

Their bright color is a dead giveaway to predators to steer clear of this animal. They use their poison only for self-defense, and if bitten by a predator, the toxin also has an awful taste. There is only one species of snake, Liophis epinephelus, that is able to feed on juvenile golden poison dart frogs, but it can only tolerate a smaller amount of poison. Fortunately for these frogs, they are completely immune to their own poison.

Adverse Amphibians

The golden poison dart frog secretes a neurotoxin through special glands in its skin.  This toxin can be lethal if it reaches the bloodstream; it is believed that an amount as small as 200 micrograms could be fatal to a human.  For this reason, these frogs are often deemed too dangerous to handle.  However, these same frogs are not toxic at all in captivity.  This is because they must consume certain arthropods, which in turn have consumed certain plants, to be able to produce the toxin.  Certain indigenous tribes in Colombia use the toxin from the golden poison dart frog to poison the tips of their darts.  The toxin is so abundant on the frog’s skin that merely rubbing the dart on a frog’s back will provide enough poison.  The poisonous darts could then be used during warfare, inflicting paralysis or death on their enemies.

This species is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Since it inhabits such a small region, its population is easily affected by deforestation. 

The golden poison dart frog lives in the lowland rainforest on the Pacific coast of Colombia.  As a ground-dwelling species, it spends the majority of its time on the forest floor, near water.

Small insects and other arthropods are the nourishment of choice for this frog.  A golden poison dart frog will use its long, sticky tongue to catch its prey.  They are quick enough to grab an insect out of midair! 

Golden poison dart frogs have slender bodies and legs.  Their fingers and toes have no webbing because they spend most of their time on land.  They are generally bright gold in color, although some can be a deep orange or a pale blue-green.  Females are slightly larger than males, growing to be about two inches long.  This means the golden poison dart frog is also the largest species of poison dart frogs.      

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