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Name: Liam B.
Status: student
Age: 13
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 4/29/2004

At the moment I am researching venomous animals and I am wanting to do my project on a frog from South America. I know there may be thousands of different types of frogs in South America alone but this one is special. I do not know the name of it but it is small red and the Aztecs used their poison on their arrow heads. that about all I have heard about this frog. Would you possibly give me some more info on this frog and the name would be great! If you cant find some info on it could you give me a few links to sites related to this sort of thing? Thanks much.

This page is pretty technical but it has a good run down of some species:

J. Elliott

Hi Liam! As you mentioned there are maybe hundreds of poisonous frogs at South America. But I think you are referring to the one that it is one of the most poisonous animals on earth. For centuries, the called poison arrow frog has provided South American Indians with poison for the tips of arrows and blowpipe darts. For predators, swallowing a frog means certain death, and even licking one can prove fatal.

Habits: Like all amphibians, poison arrow frogs must stay moist to survive. The red and blue species lives in Costa Rican rain forests. The constantly steamy, wet environment reduces the frogs need for streams and pools. It forages through the rain soaked leaves and vegetation for small insects such as ants and spiders. The poison arrow frog moves in short hops and rarely stays still. Adhesive pads on its toes allow it to climb agilely to search for prey. Its vocal sac fully extended, a poison arrow frog croaks a territorial claim.

Breeding: Many frogs lay large quantities of eggs in water and leave them alone. Fish eat the newly hatched tadpoles, and few survive to develop into adult frogs. The poison arrow frog breeds in a different way that ensures the tadpoles survival. After a courtship ritual of calling, chasing, and wrestling, the female lays four to six eggs. The male then fertilizes the eggs. The newly hatched tadpoles climb onto the females back, and she carries them to the water. Sticky mucus holds the tadpoles on tight and keeps them moist during the several hour journey.

Instead of a pond or stream, the red and blue mother places her tadpoles in tiny condensation pools in the centers of tropical plants. The female puts one tadpole in each plant, feeding them each week by placing unfertilized eggs in the pools. Feeding on this nutritious food, the tadpoles grow into adulthood. Males wrestle for mates; their poison is for predators.

Defenses: Some frogs protect themselves from larger predators such as snakes and hawks by secreting mild poisons from the skin to make themselves taste foul. The poison arrow also uses this tactic, but its skin gland secretions are lethal. A predator faces certain death if it swallows a poison arrow frog, and even licking one can often prove fatal.

These frog poisons are the most powerful animal poisons known. As little as two micrograms of its poison can kill an adult human and each frog contains nearly 200 micrograms. The dangerous levels of poison are lower in the red and blue species, but it still is lethal. Because the poison arrow frog is too small to be seen by some animals, its brightly colored skin makes it more noticeable and acts as a warning to predators that the frog is deadly prey. Consequently, fewer frogs are eaten during the day, when predators can recognize them as dangerous.

Poison Arrow Frog and Man: The Choco Indians of western Colombia developed the technique of using this frog to poison the tips of arrows or blowpipe darts. The Choco use poison from three species. With the deadliest frogs, the tribesmen pin a frog to the ground with a stick and wipe their arrowheads on its skin. Less poisonous species are warmed over fires on skewers to make them excrete large quantities of poison, which is concentrated for use. Today the Choco use poison darts or arrows for hunting small game, but in the past they were used in wars with other tribes in the forest.

Key Facts:

Length: 1 in. The biggest frog in the family grows to 2 in.

Mating: During the tropical rainy season No. of eggs: 4-6, laid on land
Tadpole: Develops in flooded leaf joints of plants and feeds on unfertilized eggs

Habit: Lives on forest floor and among trees
Diet: Small insects such as ants and spiders
Lifespan: Unknown

Related Species: Of the 116 species in the family, 55 are brightly colored poisonous
Dendrobates and Phyllobates species: These include the golden poison arrow frog,
Dendrobates auratus, and the deadly Phyllobates terribilis.
Distribution: The red and blue poison arrow frog lives in the Costa Rican rain forests.
Other species occur throughout tropical South America from Costa Rica to southern Brazil.
Conservation: Although the poison arrow frog is collected both for its poison and for
the pet trade, the destruction of its habitat threatens its future.

You can see its picture at the site:

There are also many other sites with interesting facts if you ask Google as: " red South

America poisonous frog"

And thanks for asking NEWTON!

Mabel (Dr. Mabel Rodrigues)

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