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Santa Barbara, California
Illinois, United States
Other name: Green Poison Arrow Frog
Scientific name: Dendrobates auratus
Habitat / Place of Origin: The Green and Black
Poison Frog is found throughout many regions of Central and South America such as Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Brazil, and Bolivia. Humans have also successfully introduced Dendrobates auratus in Hawaii and they have since flourished there. They prefer to live on the rainforest floor near small streams and pools of water.Interestingly, the Green and Black Poison Frog (and other poison dart frogs) lose the neurotoxicity in their skin when in captivity. This is because the toxins are created by their diet of specific insects and invertebrates found only in the wild. However, because their skin is so fragile, these frogs are not suitable for handling.
Size and Coloration: There are many morphs of the D. auratus, but the most commonly found are the green and black version and the blue and black version (the blue and black version is known as the “Panama” morph). The green or blue color is banded or in spots or blotches all over the frog’s body. Other colors from different morphs include bronze, gold, yellow, and tan. Poison Dart Frogs lack webbing on their feet. These are one of the larger frogs reaching upwards of 2 inches. (Some D. auratus morphs - Microspot, Blue and Bronze, Reticulated, Turquoise and Bronze, and Camouflage)
Caging: Green and Black Poison Frogs do best in M/F pairs or in small groups. Tank size for a small group (2-4 frogs) can be a 20 gallon “long” tank. If housing more frogs, tank size must increase giving them more floor space and more room to hide.
Captive Care: The ideal temperature for D. auratus frogs are between 75-82F. Humidity is high and should be kept between 80-100%. The most recommended way to set up their tank is having a fully planted, false bottom tank (see the forum topic of “Building a False Bottom Tank”). Homemade or store bought misting systems are also a good choice for these frogs since they need to be misted a lot. After building the false bottom and adding the substrate, live plants should be added. Plants to use include Bromeliads, Ferns, Mosses, Begonia, Orchids, Creeping Fig, Pothos, and various others. The plants you choose should withstand high humidity and moist conditions. If using live plants the use of a UVB light will be needed. Hiding areas should be provided throughout the tank. The most commonly used hide with poison frogs are coco huts but others may be used. Adding a very shallow water dish of 1-3mm of water may be used for the frogs to soak themselves. Spot cleaning is needed and should be done weekly or as it becomes spoiled.
Breeding: If the tank set up is correct and the group of frogs contains males and females, they will try to breed. Males call the females and fight with other males to attain territories. Once a female is interested in the male, she will begin rubbing his body. The male will lead the female to a chosen nest site. The nest site should be an area where water has gathered and there are leaves above or just touching the water’s surface. The easiest and most attractive way to do this is add a petri dish or jar lid with 1-3mm of water inside of a coco hut and add a leave over half of the water. If this site is acceptable to the female, she will begin to lay her eggs. They are deposited on the leaf and the male fertilizes them. Remove the eggs to incubate them by hand to avoid potential cannibalism from the other frogs. The eggs can be placed in a deli cup with tepid water and a tight fitting lid with air holes. Room temperature is enough to incubate the eggs. Remove dead eggs so mold doesn't spread to the good eggs. In about 2 weeks the eggs begin hatching. Once a tadpole hatches, assist the other tadpoles by opening their eggs very gently. In the wild, the male would use his back legs to do this. Tadpoles can be moved into single deli cups and raised in tadpole tea (boil organic material like peat, dried oak leaves, or Indian almond leaves in water until the water has the color of tea.) This tadpole tea has tannins, humic acids, and other compounds that serve as an antibacterial and antifungal purpose. After about 6 weeks, the tadpoles with metamorphose into froglets, where they will now need access to land and water.
Diet: Adult frogs are only able to take small foods. Flightless fruit flies (Drosophila hydei) and 2 week old crickets are suitable for adults. Froglets and juveniles will need flightless fruit flies (Drospphila melanogaster) and pinhead crickets. Adults and juveniles also can eat springtails. Tadpoles must be offered spirulina, chlorella, flaked fish food, daphnia, and bloodworms.
Temperament: D. auratus frogs are very hardy and are often used as an introductory frog to keeping Poison Frogs. They are very active throughout the day and are less shy than other species of dart frogs. Like all amphibians and especially dart frogs, these are not to be handled. They are much too fragile and flighty for safe handling. Always corral them into a cup with a ventilated lid when doing tank maintenance. When raised in captivity, Poison Dart Frogs are not poisonous, but they are very fragile to catching diseases from our hands.