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Green and Black Poison Dart Frog

Dendrobates auratus

Green and Black Poison Dart Frog


This frog is 1.5 to 2 inches long. Most individuals are green and black, but some populations are light blue or brownish and black; the black can be in either spots or bands. The common name comes from the fact that these frogs have poison glands throughout the surface of their bodies, something which is advertised to predators with color vision by means of the bright colors.

Distribution and Habitat

Dendrobates auratus is found from Nicaragua and Costa Rica to southeastern Brazil and Bolivia, and has also been introduced into Hawaii. It is typically found on the floor of rain forests near small streams or pools, but in Hawaii it can also be seen near urban areas that have water pools available for egg-laying and tadpole development.


Adult poison dart frogs feed on spiders and small insects. Part of their native diet includes a genus of ants that have high quantities of alkaloids in their tissues, and those alkaloids are what produce the poison secreted by the frogs; if fed a diet that does not include those ants no poison is produced. Prey is captured with a sticky, retractible tongue. Tadpoles feed on arthropod larvae, and, on occasion, other tadpoles.


Mating usually occurs during the rainy season, which runs from July to September. Males fight each other for territorial rights. Once a male has established his territory he will begin calling for potential mates. After mating the female will deposit up to six eggs in a small pool (in Hawaii they may even lay them in discarded cans or bottles) and then go on her way. The eggs are looked after by the male during the two-week incubation period, after which he carries the tadpoles to a suitable place for further development and then leaves them. Tadpoles will take another six weeks to reach adulthood.

Other Behavior

The green and black poison dart frog is diurnal, but is most active during the day.

Scientific Classification

phylum Chordata
subphylum Vertebrata
class Amphibia
order Anura
family Dendrobatidae
genus & species Dendrobates auratus


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The Robinson Library >> Order Anura

This page was last updated on August 31, 2018.