Dyeing Poison Dart Frog Fact File


Dyeing poison dart frogs are a brightly coloured frog with a blue belly and legs. Their back is coloured yellow and black with the head being primarily yellow. This pattern is highly variable among individual frogs. Their bright colouration serves to warn predators that they are toxic and should not be consumed.

Their toes end with enlarged discs which are used to grip on to surfaces.

Females are larger than males. Males also have a slightly larger finger disc. Their length is between 3.8 and 5.1cm (1.5-2in). An average weight for the male is 3.7g (0.13oz) with females being almost double this weight at 6.5g (0.23oz).


They feed on ants, spiders and other small insects as adults. These ants contain poisons and the dyeing poison dart frogs obtain these once they eat them. If the insects they eat are not poisonous they will not be poisonous by extension.

During their larval stage the tadpoles will eat algae, detritus and other tadpoles.

Scientific Name

Dendrobates tinctorius

Conservation Status

Least Concern


Male 3.7g (0.13oz)

Female 6.5g (0.23oz)


3.8-5.1cm (1.5-2in)


Wild 5 years

Captive 15 years

Record 23 years



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Dyeing poison dart frogs are native to South America. Here they live in isolated areas of French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname and Brazil.


These frogs make their home in forests and wetlands. They require a humid, wet habitat which prevents their skin from drying out. Most of their time is spent hidden under leaves or rocks.

Their populations are slightly divided by patches of savanna or plateau where they would not survive and as such each population is slightly different to one another.


Breeding takes place in February and March. Males will establish a territory within a tree which he defends against other males. This may sometimes lead to the males rolling one another over.

Once males have established their territory they will begin to call which attracts a female with which they can mate. If multiple females arrive they may also fight for the right to mate with the male. A winning female will stroke the male on his nose with her back foot.

Following a successful mating the female will deposit up to 10 eggs on to a leaf. These are fertilized by the male externally.

Poison dart frogs will tend to their eggs and display a large amount of parental care for their young. Once the eggs are laid the male will spend 14-18 eggs caring for the eggs while they incubate during which he protects them against predators.

Tadpoles hatch on the leaf and are placed on the males back where they are then carried to a water source such as bromeliad cup where they will spend the next 2 months in their tadpole form. They develop their adult colouration in the last few weeks of being a tadpole.

After 10 weeks they are ready to metamorphose and become an adult dyeing poison dart frog.

Sexual maturity is reached at 1 year old.


Only males will call in this species.

Dyeing poison dart frogs are active by day. By being awake when it is light predators are able to easily see their warning colours. They are most active in the early morning and evening.

Predators and Threats

The only successful predator of the dyeing poison dart frog is a species of snake which has developed immunity to their poison.

To defend against predation their best defense is the poison which they secrete through their skin. This poison can affect the predator through making them sick or potentially even causing death. In zoos they lose this poison as they are not eating the same diet.

Humans affect the population of dyeing poison dart frogs through logging of their habitat and the hunting of frogs for the pet trade.

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Quick facts

The dyeing poison dart frog was the first species of dart frog to be found by Europeans.

Poison dart frogs are also known as poison arrow frogs due to hunters in South America using the poison on their skin to tip their arrows which were then used for hunting.

Their name comes from a legend that these frogs were traditionally used to dye the feathers of a parrot from green to yellow or red. This has not been seen by a scientist and it is unclear if it is actually possible for this to occur.

This group of frogs has the Latin name Dendrobatidae and this means “one who walks in the trees.”

Photo Credits

All Images

Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)


Ambrose, J., 2015. Wildlife Of The World. 1st ed. London: Dorling Kindersley, p.98.

Rosamondgiffordzoo.org. 2020. Dyeing Poison Dart Frog. [online] Available at: <http://rosamondgiffordzoo.org/assets/uploads/animals/pdf/DyeingPoisonDartFrog.pdf> [Accessed 12 June 2020].

Gaucher, P. & MacCulloch, R. 2010. Dendrobates tinctorius. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010:

e.T55204A11265402. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-2.RLTS.T55204A11265402.en. Downloaded

on 12 June 2020.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden®. 2020. Dyeing Poison Dart Frog - Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden®. [online] Available at: <http://cincinnatizoo.org/animals/dyeing-poison-dart-frog/> [Accessed 12 June 2020].

Animals.sandiegozoo.org. 2020. Poison Frog | San Diego Zoo Animals & Plants. [online] Available at: <https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/poison-frog> [Accessed 12 June 2020].

Zoonewengland.org. 2020. Dyeing Poison Dart Frog | Stone Zoo. [online] Available at:

<https://www.zoonewengland.org/stone-zoo/our-animals/reptiles-amphibians/dyeing-poison-dart-frog> [Accessed 12 June 2020].

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