Although the name sounds ominous, these little frogs from Central and South America are quite incredible. Poison dart frogs, or arrow frogs, are small terrestrial frogs that live in the tropics of the Americas, spending most of their time on the ground or in low vegetation. They get their name from the use of their toxins by tribes living in those areas. The people of these tribes capture the frogs and rub their spears, darts, and arrows on the backs of the frogs to coat the tips of the weapons in the poison. Like many amphibious species, the skin of these frogs secrete toxins of various types that may cause illness, paralysis, or death in their prey and those that are unlucky enough to come into contact with them. However, in captivity these frogs are virtually harmless.
Poison dart frogs bred in captivity do not carry the deadly toxins in their skin. The poison comes from the ants that the frogs eat in the wild. In captivity, the frogs are not eating these ants, and so the poison isn’t made and secreted. Even wild caught poison dart frogs will lose their toxicity over time.
The poison dart frogs in the Akron Fossils collection are Dendrobates auratus, or the green and black dart frog. These little frogs are one of the less dangerous in the wild. Ours, named Romeo and Juliet, are captive bred and munch on a diet of flightless fruit flies and small crickets. They are diurnal, meaning they are active during the daytime. Check the events calendar or the Akron Fossils website for details on this and other upcoming events at http://www.akronfossils.com
Written by Megan Beaver