The strawberry poison dart frog, or strawberry poison frog, is a species of poison dart frog found in Central America. It is known for its beautiful and attractive coloration, as well as for its toxic skin. The venom from these frogs can cause symptoms like nausea, swelling, paralysis, and can even kill an adult human.
However, these frogs have also been successfully reared in captivity and remain popular pets.
Size: Length: 0.69–0.87 in (17.5–22 mm) Weight: 1 oz (28.35 g)
Body and Coloration: These frogs have compact bodies, leaner than most other closely related species. The patterns on their skin show bilateral symmetry, and they have four digits on each of their limbs.
Out of all the species of poison dart frogs, these show the most diversity when it comes to color. The coloration ranges from strawberry red, blue, black, green, orange, white, and yellow.
Central America, extending from eastern central Nicaragua to Costa Rica and north-western Panama.
These frogs live in rainforests, as well as humid lowlands and premontane forests. They have also been spotted in plantations and groves of certain plants like bananas and cacao.
The primary prey of the strawberry poison dart frog are ants, from whom they get the alkaline toxins excreted from their skin. Other insects consumed by them include beetles, flies, millipedes, and mites.
In the wild, the exact lifespan of these frogs remains unknown. But in captivity or as pets, they have been known to live up to 17 years.
They are diurnal and are particularly active during the morning.
Individuals are mainly solitary, coming together only to breed or compete for territory.
This frog species is sedentary throughout their lives, with migration never observed. Males aggressively establish territories by calling loudly, and if an intruder responds, a wrestling match takes place. These matches last around 20 minutes, ending after one frog is pinned down. The loser then leaves the area. These territorial disputes occur during the morning when these frogs have the most energy.
Due to their poisonous skin, very few predators of this frog exist. However, the fire bellied snake is immune to their venom and can prey on these frogs.
The tadpoles, however, are more often preyed upon because their venom glands are underdeveloped.
As a result of their diet, the skin of these frogs secretes a deadly poison. This deters predators from attacking them as their venom hampers cardiac activity, leading to convulsions, paralysis, and eventually death in small animals.
They use their long and flexible tongues to catch their prey in a technique called “wide foraging”.
The strawberry dart poison frog has developed a bright coloration which serves as a warning to predators.
Mating and Reproduction
This frog is an external breeder. When selecting a mate, female frogs will choose the closest calling male rather than the highest quality male. The breeding period lasts for 8-10 months, though they can breed year-round under wet conditions. Once mating is over, she lays 3-5 eggs.
The tadpoles are cared for by both parents. The male defends them and keeps them hydrated by urinating on them, while the female lays unfertilized eggs for the babies to consume. Each tadpole is kept in its separate “pond”, which can be located on a leaf, a tree knot, small puddles, or even human trash.
Females expend a lot more energy than males while going to these different sites to provide nourishment to the young. This leads to only 5-12% of the initial clutch of eggs surviving.
After 30 days or so, the tadpole will begin its metamorphosis into a frog. It will slowly absorb its tail into its body, changing from tadpole to froglet to a fully developed frog. Until the process is complete, the juvenile tends to remain in its original location for safety.
As per the IUCN, the strawberry dart poison frog is listed as “Least Concern” or “LC”.
Despite their toxicity and aggressive feeding habits, these frogs are popular pets. This is due to their bright colors, making them attractive to any prospective collector. With a change in diet, the venom in their skin is neutralized while retaining their striking hues. Currently, frogs meant to be reared as pets are bred in small farms in Central America, from where they are exported.