The blue poison dart frog alternately known as blue poison arrow frog is a dyeing dart frog, recognizable for its blue coloration and deadly poison. Each frog has a series of dark spots on its back, unique to all members of its species, making it easy to identify individually.
The frog’s scientific name, Dendrobates tinctorius “azureus” is a result of its blue color. Though considered a valid species initially, at present it has been considered a variant of another poison dart frog, i.e. the dyeing dart frog. Found in only a few isolated areas, the frog was discovered in 1969. It is called okopipi in the Tirio tongue.
Size: Length: 1.2-1.8 in (3.0-4.5 cm) Weight: 0.3 oz (8 g)
Body and Coloration: Sexual dimorphism exists, with females slightly larger than males.
These frogs have an overall bright blue body. The back, and the top of their head appear sky blue, while the area around their belly and legs have a darker blue coloration. Dark blue and black spots are seen throughout the frog’s body, mainly on its back and head.
These frogs have only been spotted in a few isolated rainforest areas in northern Brazil and the Sipaliwini savanna of southern Suriname.
They require relatively cool (71.6-80.6⁰F) but also humid environments for survival, close to running rocky streams.
Insectivorous in nature, the blue poison dart frog feeds on ants, beetles, caterpillars, flies, and mites.
In general, a blue poison dart frog lives for around 10 to 15 years.
They are active mainly during the day and can be found close to water sources.
Aggressive and territorial, these frogs will fight both members of their species and other animals getting into their domain. This behavior becomes more prominent during the mating season, where females fend away any competition.
Their locomotion consists of a series of short hops and leaps.
Communication occurs with verbal means like calls and physical means like chasing and wrestling.
Due to their bright coloration warning predators of their poison, they do not have many natural predators. However, the Northern redbelly, or fire-bellied snake, has developed a natural resistance to the frog’s venom allowing it to prey on the frog.
Tadpoles, which do not have the characteristic venom of their adult counterparts, sometimes fall prey to predators like dragonfly larvae, large fish, turtles, some birds, and snakes.
Like most other poison dart frogs, they have toxins in their skin that can paralyze or kill attackers.
The bright blue color of this frog acts as a warning to predators.
These frogs have sticky skin helping to hold in the moisture. This makes it easy for the tadpoles to cling to their parents and other adults when moving from one location to the other.
Mating and Reproduction
Blue poison dart frogs breed during the months of February and March. Males position themselves on a leaf or rock and try to attract mates by calling. Females follow these calls, with fights breaking out if more than one female responds. The winner courts the male, and if successful, the male leads her to a moist area that is not entirely submerged in water to lay eggs. The male externally fertilizes the clutch of 5-10 eggs laid by his mate after a single mating session.
The father takes care of the eggs, checking on them and urinating on them to keep them moist. After incubating for 10-18 days, the tadpoles hatch. When hatching, they are weak, needing to be carried to a nest with a small pool of rainwater located in a tree trunk or a cup-like structure in a bromeliad plant. The tadpoles begin to metamorphose into froglets, with their gills being replaced by lungs and rear legs developing. At 10-12 weeks of age, a young frog leaves the water for land. They reach sexual maturity at 10 – 12 months of age.
According to the IUCN, the blue poison dart frog is “Least Concern” or “LC”.
The blue poison dart frog is occasionally seen as a pet. This is relatively safe, as its toxins are dependent on their diet, which leads to captive specimens not being poisonous. However, acquiring wild specimens is not encouraged as this lowers the population in the wild.
The toxins in these frogs are spread over the darts and arrows some South American Indians use for hunting. The poison helps to kill the animals hunted quickly.