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Golden Poison Dart Frog

Golden Poison Dart Frog
Phyllobates terribilis

The largest species of Dart frog, their stunning metallic yellow colouration and bold attitude makes these frogs a must for anyone looking to create a rainforest terrarium.

Golden Poison Dart Frog - (CB23) Juveniles 2-3cm
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(CB23) Juveniles 2-3cm
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What do Golden Poison Dart Frogs look like?

The Golden Poison Dart Frogs or Golden Poison Arrow Frogs as they are otherwise known, are predominantly Golden in colour with a metallic sheen. Other locality colour variations such mint green, orange, and orange blackfoot are also seen within the hobby. The yellow is an example of aposematism meaning that the colours warn predators of its toxicity, the species name ‘terribilis’ is a reference to their toxicity. Newly morphed juveniles are predominantly black with two golden stripes along their backs. This dark two-tone colouration fades to yellow as they mature, usually around 18 months old they become fully yellow.

This is the largest species of dart frog with adults reaching sizes of up to 6cm. As one of the most poisonous creatures on the planet, wild frogs contain enough poison to kill two elephants! Captive dart bred frogs are considered non-toxic, their wild relatives rely on the consumption of specific insects to synthesise toxins.

This species is not sexable until at least 10-12 months of age. Usually females are the larger of the two sexes and become longer and wider. 

Where are Golden Poison Dart Frogs from?

This species is endemic to Pacific Coasts of Columbia. Their natural habitat consists of the humid Cocó Rainforest. They favour the thicker vegetation and are usually found close to the forest floor, among leaf litter and occasionally climbing trees. They are endangered in the wild due to deforestation causing habitat destruction.

How do I keep Golden Poison Dart Frogs?

These bold little frogs are terrestrial but will use any space provided, therefore the glass terrarium should have plenty of floor space. For two frogs we recommend an absolute  minimum of 60 x 45 x 45cm (24 x 18 x 18”) though larger is always better - especially if you plan on keeping more than two. Sexed groups can cohabit and are best kept as pairs, or trios with one female to two males; as females can be aggressive towards each other, expressing dominant behaviour, in competition for males.

The Golden Poison Dart Frogs are diurnal (active during the day) and require ambient temperatures of around 20-26°C. At night time, temperatures can be as low as 16°C, to simulate the natural temperature drop which happens in the wild when the sun sets. For heat, heat mats provide surface temperature only and can quickly dry out the substrate therefore we advise warming the air temperature by heating using a basking bulb or halogen. Using a suitable thermostat on all heat sources, ensures that your frogs are maintained at the correct temperature. 

Dart frogs require low level T5 UVB lighting that sits within the parameters of Ferguson Zone 1,  this aids their circadian rhythm and helps them to produce vitamin D3 which is essential in the absorption of Calcium - keeping bones healthy and strong. This should be on for 12 hours during the day and turned off at night, and replaced once a year without fail. If you intend to opt for a bio-active enclosure with live plants, you must also provide suitable daylight spectrum LED lighting for them to be able to thrive.

Natural humidity levels will fluctuate and can rise and fall between 70-90% it is advised to replicate these conditions at home. Use a spray bottle or mist system, which dampens the decor, foliage and substrate both morning and evening, helps maintain the right moisture levels. We recommend using treated tap water, bottled, or rain water as the chemicals and metals in tap water can cause health problems for amphibians. This species won’t tolerate low humidity for long periods, the addition of a large shallow water dish will be readily enjoyed by the frogs. Some opt to add a waterfall and filter within the terrarium, (making it a paludarium) which again, helps to maintain humidity without the need to mist as often.

These frogs thrive in a live planted bio-active terrarium, often laying eggs amongst leaf litter and carrying tadpoles to water filled bromeliads to rear. For natural terrarium decor, the only limit is your imagination, we always suggest looking at the natural habitat of these frogs and aiming to recreate a small piece of the rainforest in your own home!

Adding in a layer of clay balls for bio-active setups provides root aeration and drainage, a soil based substrate to cover the floor and then a layer of leaf litter and moss on top can help to retain moisture. The forest floor is naturally built up from layers of biologically broken down plant matter, adding in isopods and springtails as a clean up crew will aid this natural cycle.

Artificial plants are ideal for adding coverage in areas of the tank which look a little sparse, especially while live plants are filling in and getting established. Dense foliage, real or faux, provides natural enrichment and offers the frogs plenty of cover. Cork bark and vines also work well, replicating their rainforest habitat. 

Dart frogs have an extremely fast metabolism and will need feeding daily. They will primarily eat Fruit Flies (which can be cultured and staggered to maintain a constant supply) and hatchling crickets, these are nutritious and offer enrichment by way of encouraging natural hunting and foraging behaviours. They will also prey upon other small insects such as clean up crews such as Springtails and Isopods within the terrarium.

It is important to use a good quality supplement powder to provide an essential calcium and vitamin boost to your dart frogs. Providing additional Vitamin A is important as this is a vitamin which they can be more susceptible to becoming deficient in. The easiest method of application is to use a spare live food tub or ziplock bag to lightly dust the insects in supplement. We advise dusting your insects on every feed, alternating between calcium and vitamin powders according to manufacturers recommendations; this must be done throughout the duration of the frogs life.

Did you know... Poison Dart Frogs are NOT poisonous in captivity! They are so named because of their toxins being used by natives to lace the tips of darts for hunting. Their natural diet consists of ants, millipedes and mites which are extremely high in alkaloids; these toxins are accumulated in the skin of the frog. The captive diet of poison dart frogs lacks any alkaloids, meaning they pose NO risk to humans.

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