Strawberry Poison Dart Frog
Strawberry poison dart frogs are endemic to Caribbean rainforests in Central America; from eastern central Nicaragua through Costa Rica to northwestern Panama.
The species is known for its extensive colour and pattern polymorphism, both within and among populations. The frog's look varies from a simple plain colour to a base colour covered with different shapes of dots, splotches and/or stripes, all of this with an endless variety of shades, such as blue, green, red, orange, yellow, black, brown and even white. Like other poison dart frogs, their bright colours are actually a warning sign to inform predators that they are poisonous and should not be eaten (aposematic coloration). Due to their colourful appearance and charismatic nature, they are often the subject of ecotourism related activities.
Strawberry poison dart frogs live a mainly terrestrial lifestyle: they are bottom dwellers that spend most of their time on and in between the leaf litter that covers the forest floor. They do, however, also frequently climb vines and trees.
Their amazing colours, charismatic nature and interesting breeding behaviour makes them appealing display animals. Strawberry poison dart frogs are best kept as pairs: females might express dominant and aggressive behaviour towards other females when there is a conflict of interest in a specific male.
The Strawberry poison dart frog, now named Oophaga pumilio, was described for the first time in 1857 as Dendrobatus pumilio by Eduard Oscar Schmidt, a German zoologist. The species has been captive bred in the USA and Europe for more than 25 years.
The genus name "Oophaga" originates from the Greek words "oon" (egg) and "phagos" (eater) and refers to the diet of the tadpoles of this species. The tadpoles are obligate egg feeders, which means they feed exclusively on unfertilised eggs, supplied as food by the mother. The species specific name "pumilio" (latin for dwarf) refers to the small size of these frogs.
StrawberrStrawberry poison dart frogs belong to the family Dendrobatidae, which consists of 8 genera and more than 170 species.
Poison dart frogs are famous for their colourful appearance, which acts as a red flag to predators and signals their poisonous nature. When the frogs are stressed, tiny glands in the skin will secrete toxins resulting in a poison covered skin. In captivity, dart frogs lose their poisonous nature, and the skin toxins disappear completely in the generations that follow. This proves that the frog itself does not produce the poison, but that the poisonous substances are retrieved from the tiny invertebrates they are feeding on.
The species Oophaga pumilio, or Strawberry poison dart frog, is a great example of colour polymorphism, which is defined as colour variation within a species or population. Research suggests this trait positively influences range expansion and species persistence, resulting in a reduced risk of extinction.
The most well-known morph of this species has a red base color with blue or black hind legs and small black spots on the back: the so called "blue jeans" morph. For Strawberry poison dart frog morphs that exhibit patterns, the pattern is made up of a base color with a varying combination of splotches, dots, spots, or entire body parts colored in different shades of blue, yellow, orange, red, green, brown, black, and even white. Some of the Strawberry poison dart frog morphs are patternless red, brown or orange.
Adult frogs range from 0,7-1" or 1,7-2,5 cm in total length. Males and females differ only slightly, the most obvious difference is visible when the male is calling and exposing his vocal sac. In rest, the vocal sac can sometimes be observed as a skin fold. Adult males are often a bit more slender.
Strawberry poison dart frogs are endemic to the Caribbean coast of Central America, more specifically: eastern central Nicaragua, Costa Rica and northwestern Panama. The largest amount of color variations occurs on the islands of the Bocas Del Toro archipelago, off the coast of Panama. Each island has its own unique morphs, a consequence of species evolution during 8000 years of island isolation.
Here are a few Strawberry poison dart frog morphs, often named after their location:
Almirante (Panama): red to orange base color with dark blue or dark grey legs
Colón (Panama): yellowish green base color with brown dots and splotches
Escudo de Varaguas (Panama): red back, blue sides and belly
Kusapin (Panama): similar to Escudo de Varaguas, but with a more granular skin
Loma Partida (Panama): greenish blue with fine speckles on the back and legs
Tierra Oscura (Panama): blue above and a cobalt blue belly, patternless or few small black dots
Isla Popa (Panama): yellowish green above and a blueish white color on the sides and below, dark spots on the legs and on the back depending on the locality
Solarte (Panama): bright orange to red base color with white toes, patternless or with small black spots
San Cristobal (Panama): bright red base color with blue legs, covered in black dots or patternless
Bastimentos (Panama): orange to red above and white below, covered in dark spots and splotches
Rio Colubre (Panama): dark blue base color and a light blue belly, covered with black splotches
El Dorado (Panama - Costa Rica): yellow to orange base color, patternless or covered with small dark speckles
BriBri (Costa Rica): red to dark orange base color, patternless or with small black speckles
Blue Jeans (Nicaragua): red upper body, blue lower body and legs, covered with black speckles
The frogs inhabit humid lowland and premontane rainforests but just as well more disturbed locations like cacao and banana plantations. This species can be encountered on heights ranging from 0 to 960 meter above sea level.
In the Wild
The name of poison dart frogs originates in the habit of indigenous tribes to use the poison of these frogs on the tips of blow darts. Although these darts are currently only used for hunting, it is said that in earlier times the darts were also used in wars between rivalling tribes. If you encounter these frogs in the wild, there is only a small chance of actually being poisoned; the poison is only secreted when the animal is experiencing a high level of stress, for example when it is injured or abused. It is important to mention that dart frogs are unable to synthesise their own poison; they retrieve toxic substances from their food and store these toxins in their skin.
Strawberry poison dart frogs are diurnal; they hunt and eat during the day. Ants make up the largest part of the diet of an adult frog. They are mainly bottom dwellers, living in between the foliage and roots that cover the forest floor. They do, however, also frequently climb vines and trees.
In contrast to other frog species, where a good health and size is signalled by means of frequent calling, male strawberry poison dart frogs limit the rate of their calls to reduce energy expenditures. The choice and size of their territory depends mainly on the available resources and required defensive efforts. Females choose a mate based on several traits: appearance, call and most importantly, location. Once the female finds a suitable male, she will approach him and after a short introduction period characterised by mutual tactile simulation, breeding starts.
Strawberry poison dart frogs are well known for their mutual parental care. The males provide protection and keep the eggs humid, while females take care of feeding by providing food to the tadpoles in the form of unfertilised eggs.
In the Terrarium
Strawberry poison dart frogs are ideally kept as pairs. Females might express dominant and aggressive behaviour towards other females when there is a conflict of interest in a specific male, so housing females together is strongly advised against. This behavior can consist of kicking, chasing, jumping on each others back, wrestling, or pressing the head or body of the other frog down against the substrate. Frogs expressing the aforementioned behavior continuously should be separated. Keeping a trio consisting of two males and one female is possible. When two males are housed together, make sure to provide extra dwelling volume to avoid territorial conflicts as much as possible. Territorial behavior can lead to stress, and on the long term, even to the death of one of the frogs.
Poison dart frogs that are bred in captivity do not pose a risk of poisoning. The frogs are fed with fruit flies, springtails, aphids and other tiny invertebrates, which lack the toxic substances that are stored in the skin by their wild counterparts. On the contrary, when handling wild caught frogs, precautions should be taken as it might take up to several years before all the toxins have disappeared. The frogs are diurnal and are best fed during the day, to avoid stress caused by the feeder animals.
Exo Terra®’s Frogs & Co range offers a wide variety of products suitable for dart frogs and other frog species. The products of the Frogs & Co range are designed to work together, helping you to create and establish a harmonized natural microhabitat. All Frogs & Co items are key components to successfully establish a bioactive planted terrarium with a thriving frog population.
Exo Terra® Natural Terrariums are designed by European herpetologists and offer several housing options for Strawberry poison dart frogs. These glass terrariums feature front opening doors, allowing easy access for maintenance and feeding and a unique double ventilation system with full screen stainless steel top.
The Exo Terra® Natural Terrarium X-Tall (Paludarium) range allows you to create a semi-aquatic terrarium habitat that replicates a rainforest, swamp or stream and can harbour aquatic as well as terrestrial animal and plant species. The bottom part has an extra high front bottom glass, providing a higher water level and an increased water volume compared to common terrariums. A part of the aquatic section can consist of a false bottom to support the land section, accommodate and hide the aquatic appliances like filters, pumps and water heaters and can double as a biological filtration media. Strawberry poison dart frogs are bad swimmers; to avoid drowning, make sure the water depth of the accessible water parts does not exceed the frog’s height.
The Exo Terra® Dart Frog Terrarium even comes with a built-in drain and tap valve which allows you to easily drain out excess spray water. The single front opening door allows maximum viewing pleasure and provides easy access for maintenance and feeding. A push-button lock keeps the terrarium secure and can even be outfitted with an optional lock to prevent unwanted opening. The hinged cover can be locked and unlocked with a single button and can be fully opened. A clear glass panel in the front ensures maximum visible light penetration and a stainless steel ventilation strip in the back guarantees optimal ventilation. The patented dual ventilation system keeps the single front glass door free of condensation, even in humid conditions. It creates a natural upward flow of air to ensure optimal and healthy conditions. Excess heat is dissipated through the top mesh and prevents heat from accumulating, creating temperature gradients in the terrarium. The screen mesh allows UV and infrared penetration when these bulbs are required. Four self-closing inlets for wire/tubing in the back facilitate the installation of powered accessories like waterfall pumps, filters, the Exo Terra® Monsoon, etc. The inside front of the lid has a Monsoon Nozzle mounting point on each side of the terrarium. The bottom part of the terrarium is waterproof once the tubing, elbow-connector and tap valve are connected to the drain. The drain allows hassle free water changes and excess water removal.
The Exo Terra® Frog Terrariums can be set up as a bioactive habitat for dart frogs, smaller tree & reed frogs, newts and salamanders, small geckoes & lizards, garter & grass snakes, etc.
Horizontally oriented enclosures like the Low and Wide Natural Terrariums are a great choice to house a small group of Strawberry Poison Dart Frogs, since they live a mainly terrestrial lifestyle:
PT2745 – Dart Frog Terrarium – Advanced Amphibian Habitat – up to 3-4 frogs (WxDxH: 45 x 45 x 45 cm / 18" x 18" x 18")
PT2600 - Natural Terrarium – Mini/Wide – up to 2 frogs (WxDxH: 30 x 30 x 30 cm / 12” x 12” x 12”)
PT2603 - Natural Terrarium – Small/Low – up to 3-4 Frogs (WxDxH: 45 x 45 x 30 cm / 18” x 18” x 12”)
PT2605 - Natural Terrarium – Small/Wide – up to 3-4 frogs (WxDxH: 45 x 45 x 45 cm / 18” x 18” x 18”)
Strawberry Poison Dart Frogs are terrestrial and thrive best in any of the following Terrarium landscapes which simulate the natural biotope of the frogs:
The set-up can be a simple “forest floor” terrarium or a more natural bio-active type set-up with a separate land and water part mimicking a lakeshore or riverbank, by using the Bio Drain system. With a combination of hides (Coconut Cave), leaf litter (Equatorial Forest Floor substrate) and artificial and live plants, you can provide a suitable environment consisting of substrate, foliage and secure hides which will allow the poison dart frogs to live comfortably.
DISCLAIMER In regards to the pet species and number of specimens to be kept in a terrarium, always comply with the species specific Rules and Regulations in your Country of residence.
DISCLAIMER The terrarium should be placed in a room receiving only indirect light from windows. Do not place the Terrarium near a window where it can receive direct sunlight, as this could cause the terrarium to overheat and stress or kill your Poison Dart Frogs.
A 12-hour day/night cycle will benefit your frogs and stimulates live plant growth. The Exo Terra® TerraSky Planted Terrarium Light is ideal for planted setups, paludariums and bioactive terrariums. The high intensity and enhanced penetration ensure that the light reaches all layers of the terrarium, resulting in sustained lush plant growth. Orchids, Bromeliads, Tillandsias (air plants), carnivorous plants, mosses and lichen all thrive under the TerraSky Planted Terrarium Light’s strong Photosynthetic Active Radiation (PAR). The 120-degree light dispersion provides a nice even illumination and covers the complete area to avoid dark spots.
Providing UV-lighting is not absolutely necessary, but the correct amounts of UVB will help your frogs to metabolize calcium and prevent metabolic bone disease. The combination of the correct UVB wavelength and heat enables the animals to produce their own vitamin D3 for proper calcium absorption and prevents metabolic diseases (e.g., MBD). We highly recommend the use of our Reptile UVB100. The low levels of UVB rays produced by these bulbs are very beneficial for the animal's overall health, while the UVA rays stimulate appetite, activity and reproductive behavior.
During the day, an average relative humidity of 70-80% and temperature of 75-82°F or 24-28°C should be maintained. At night, humidity should rise up to about 100% and room temperature can drop with 5-9°F (3-5°C). Use the Exo Terra Digital or Analog Thermometers and Hygrometers to help you monitor the terrarium conditions and adjust the temperature and relative humidity to meet the needs of the animals.
For more security and peace of mind, the Exo Terra® Thermostats or Thermostat & Hygrostat will help to prevent overheating and undercooling during hot summer days or cold winter nights. Apart from the temperature, the Exo Terra® Thermostat & Hygrostat will also keep the humidity at the desired level. With the Exo Terra® Thermostats or Thermostat & Hygrostat, you can create a well-controlled heating/humidifying system that allows you to maintain the required temperature and/or humidity conditions similar to those found in your animal's environment.
Strawberry Poison Dart Frogs thrive well in a paludarium setup or in a bioactive terrarium setup with a water dish or preferably elevated waterbodies.
The Paludarium’s living space consists of 3 distinct zones:
Terrestrial Zone The terrestrial zone is a land area with plants, trees, bushes and rocks that never submerges. In tropical climates a variety of invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians occur here.
Riparian Zone The riparian zone or riverbank is the interface between land and water. It is inhabited by semi-aquatic reptiles and amphibians.
Aquatic Zone The aquatic zone can be a stream, pond or even lake – home to turtles, aquatic amphibians, fishes and freshwater shrimps.
To create the Terrestrial and Riparian Zone, you can use Bio Drain Substrate with a Bio Drain Mesh, topped with Exo Terra® Sub Stratum and/or Plantation Soil, covered with leaf litter and/or moss (Exo Terra® Equatorial Forest Floor or Forest Moss). The non-toxic Bio Drain mesh will keep the underlying Bio Drain Draining Substrate separated from the decorative top-layer substrate. It will prevent substrate particles from contaminating the water while still allowing proper water drainage. In combination with the Bio Drain Substrate, you can create water parts and a biological filtration system in the terrarium. The clean terrarium water can then be circulated in Waterfalls, Cascades or Dripping Plants. In the Terrestrial Zone you can build your decorative layer with plants, branches, lianas, rocks, hides, etc. The actual substrate layer that will be used for planting can consist of mixture of Exo Terra® Sub Stratum with Exo Terra® Plantation Soil. The Riparian Zone remains somewhat open, with some smaller pebbles, or flat wood or stone pieces that allow easy access to the Aquatic Zone. For the Aquatic Zone, Turtle Pebbles are a great choice as their dimensions are big enough to avoid being swallowed by the frogs but offer a stable substrate and are easy to clean.
The Exo Terra® Sub Stratum is a natural volcanic soil with live beneficial bacteria. The porous surface and low density structure allow for excellent drainage and aeration, but it also promotes a flourishing population of beneficial, nitrifying bacteria, creating a self-sustaining, living terrarium ecosystem. The active beneficial bacteria of the soil will decompose biological waste, keeping the terrarium clean and healthy. By mixing the Sub Stratum with other organic substrates, you enrich any substrate with the required minerals like calcium, nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. It also aids in the water retention capacity and provide adequate air supply to the roots.
The Exo Terra® Equatorial Forest Floor is a multi-layer substrate that allows you to recreate the forest floor as found in natural equatorial forests. The Equatorial Forest Floor provides a base layer and a top layer. The base layer consists of a rich organic matter from ground coconut husk fiber. It is a 100% natural, ecological and biodegradable substrate with great hygroscopic properties. The top layer consists of sun dried decorative Ardisia leaves from a sustainable resource. The top layer covers the actual substrate underneath to facilitate its moisture retention and prevent the soil from drying out.
The Exo Terra® Forest Moss is real compressed moss grown in tropical Asia and does not contain any dyes or chemicals. This ecological substrate is extremely absorbent and ideal for increasing humidity in the terrarium. It is totally safe for use with frogs, salamanders and burrowing or digging animals.
The Exo Terra® Plantation Soil is a 100% natural, biodegradable terrarium substrate made from sustainable, ground coconut husk fiber grown on plantations in tropical Asia. The unique hygroscopic properties of this ecological substrate regulate the terrarium’s humidity in a natural way and is totally safe for frogs, salamanders and other burrowing or digging animals. The unique coir pith used for the Exo Terra® Plantation Soil consists of a mixture of short fibres and coco-peat grain sizes ranging from coarse granules to fine clumps resulting in improved soil drainage and aeration. The improved aeration of the substrate promotes the cultivation of healthy waste-reducing organisms keeping your terrarium fresh and clean.
The substrate should be kept moist at all times, but definitely not soaking wet. Make sure to offer different gradients of moisture inside the terrarium. Some parts can be kept rather moist while other parts should be kept somewhat drier. Also, try to vary the moisture depending on the season, spray more frequently during the warmer parts of the year.
The Exo Terra® substrates will help maintain the substrate moisture at an optimal level. Providing a top layer of Exo Terra® Equatorial Forest Floor or Forest Moss will also facilitate the substrate's moisture retention and prevent it from drying out. The ardisia leaves or forest moss also provide hiding spots for the reptiles and amphibians foraging the forest floor and at the same time, facilitate the natural ecosystem where beneficial organisms will break down waste products and thus reduce odors.
The secret to growing healthy plants begins with the soil. Naturally, healthy soil contains living microorganisms — from bacteria to fungi, protozoa and arthropods. Together they form a choreographed exchange from the recycling of nutrients to the decomposition of organic materials.
The land part of the terrarium can partially be decorated with live and/or Exo Terra® artificial or smart plants. Live plants and moss will contribute to the filtration capacities of your terrarium. This type of setup allows you to create an effective filtration system, mirroring the process of natural biological filtration. A fully functioning aqua-terrarium or paludarium will provide a constant source of clean water, which is imperative to keep semi-aquatic species. It is basically a small, closed ecosystem.
Ideal for Poison Dart Frogs are small fern species and epiphytes like Bromelias, Tillandsias and orchids. Combine this with live moss and small-leaved vining plants to create a varied planted setup.
The Exo Terra® Dart Frog Bromelia is a very realistic bromelia as found in most frog habitats. The overlapping waxy leaves provide an ideal platform for the female frogs to deposit their eggs. The urn-like rosette retains water, used by the frogs as pools and to deposit their tadpoles, and is detachable for easy cleaning or for collecting the tadpoles.
Many hobbyists choose to introduce live plants in pots that are buried in the substrate and concealed with decor items, like cork bark or rocks. The Exo Terra® Snake Bowl can be used as a decorative planting pot. Its extra deep design makes it suitable for small to medium live terrarium plants.
DISCLAIMER Make sure the plants have no pests before introduction and rinse leaves thoroughly to remove any pesticide residues.
Exo Terra® offers a wide range of artificial plant with the same advantages as live plants; they're decorative, they provide shade, and they create hiding spots and visual barriers to let your reptiles and amphibians experience an increased feeling of safety and reduced stress. Exo Terra®'s artificial plants are exact copies of their natural counterparts to blend in well with live plants but are much easier to maintain. A combination of live plants and Exo Terra®'s artificial plants allows you to fully plant a terrarium, even in the hottest or driest parts.
Exo Terra®'s Bromeliads, Scindapsus, Philodendron and hanging Plants are easy to clean & maintain, while the weighted base of the Bromelia's, Scindapsus, Philodendron allows you to easily position the plant after maintenance.
Poison dart frogs are easily frightened creatures that hide rather quickly, at the slightest disturbance of their surroundings. Strangely enough, they will show up in the open much more if provided with ample secure hiding places; it will make them feel safe and secure knowing their comfort zone is within immediate reach. The Exo Terra® Coconut Cave is the perfect hiding and egg-laying cave for your poison dart frogs. In a constantly moist environment, its irregular surface will slowly start to overgrow with moss, adding to the natural look of the cave.
Landscaping a terrarium will not only encourage the frog's activity and exploratory behavior, but also provide extra cover, which increases the frog's sense of security and reduces its stress levels.
Next to the necessary items like leaf litter, plants and hideouts - the terrarium can be “beautified” with some additional decor items. Care however needs to be given to not over clutter the open space in the terrarium.
Waterfalls and Cascades add aesthetic appeal and will help oxygenate and biologically filter the water.
Exo Terra® offers a wide variety of innovative decor items like Skulls, Waterfalls, Smart Plants, Ground Cover Plants, etc. - all which add next to personalising accents, some more environment enrichment and features.
Strawberry poison dart frogs feed on tiny, live insects and other arthropods. Small fruit flies can be fed as a staple diet, complemented with other live prey such as aphids and springtails. The length of their prey should not exceed 2 mm or 0,07 inch. Always dust your feeder insects with a 1:1 mix of Exo Terra® Multivitamin and Calcium +D3 powder supplement – feed juveniles daily and adults every second or third day. Overfeeding should be avoided: an excess of feeder insects can dangerously stress out the frogs. Never feed more then the frogs can eat during a period of 2 minutes.
Because commercially raised insects tend to be deficient in calcium and several vitamins, they must be supplemented by coating with a reptile vitamin and mineral supplement such as Exo Terra® Multi Vitamin blended with an equal part Calcium. Always dust your feeder insects with a 1:1 mix of Exo Terra® Multivitamin and Calcium +D3 powder supplement using the “shake & bake” method of coating insects.
The presence of clean and fresh water is important for the proper care and maintenance of captive reptiles and amphibians.
Dart frogs have a thin, highly permeable skin, which makes them susceptible to dehydration and sensitive to toxic chemicals. Instead of drinking, they absorb water through their skin to stay hydrated. Therefore a high humidity should be maintained inside the terrarium and extra attention must be paid to the water quality. Always treat tap water with Aquatize to remove harmful heavy metals, chlorine and chloramines, necessary to provide safe healthy water for your amphibians. In a bio-active set-up, you can use Turtle Clean (PT1998) to add beneficial organisms to the terrarium water and speed up the biological filtration capabilities. Liquid Electrolyte and Calcium can be added to the water to support healthy bone and muscle growth in your frogs and especially tadpoles.
A shallow Water Dish with clean, de-chlorinated water should be available at all times. Exo Terra® Water Dishes, and specifically the Exo Terra® Frog Ponds are ideal because they are shallow, have a natural appearance and are easy to clean and disinfect. The Frog Pond’s unique shape allows you to install the pond semi-recessed in the substrate to mimic a riparian zone. This design offers easy access for dart frogs to hydrate while the shallow water body and integrated steps prevent the animals from drowning.
Strawberry poison dart frogs can’t swim so make sure that the maximum depth of the Water Dish or other water bodies in your terrarium does not exceed the height of the frog. If necessary, add Exo Terra® Turtle Pebbles to decrease the water depth.
The average humidity should be kept between 70-80% with peaks of 100% in the morning and evening (when the terrarium is sprayed/misted), similar to what these frogs experience in nature. The Exo Terra® Monsoon is a handy device to guarantee that your frog terrarium is sprayed at a set time every day. The Exo Terra® Humidifier can help maintain the correct relative humidity in the terrarium, especially if used in combination with the Exo Terra® Thermostat & Hygrostat. Although a high humidity is mandatory, a minimum of ventilation is required to avoid the growth of fungus and rotting of plants. The patented dual ventilation system of the Exo Terra® Frog Terrariums and Natural Terrariums provides the ideal amount of ventilation, without compromising the required relative humidity.
Spot-clean your Strawberry poison dart frog's enclosure once a week, or more if necessary, in order to prevent harmful bacteria to build up; remove fresh or dried faeces, leftover foods, etc. For a more thorough cleaning, remove all the decor pieces and clean these with warm water. Stirring and mixing the moist substrate will allow soil bacteria to break leftover traces of waste down. Always keep a keen eye on the substrate; as long as the substrate is not degrading or does not have a foul odour, the spot cleaning process is sufficient. Once the substrate starts to degrade or spreads a foul odour, it needs to be replaced completely.
When using a water circulation pump or filter, it is best to clean the water inlet and filter media every 2-3 weeks to ensure optimal performance. Water changes should be performed on a bi-weekly basis; remove about ¼ to ⅓ of the water and replace it with fresh water of the appropriate temperature. Partial water changes can help to remove toxic substances or improve the overall water quality. Unless really necessary, make sure to never perform entire water changes, as this will also remove beneficial bacteria and organisms. Always treat tap water with Aquatize to remove harmful heavy metals, chlorine and chloramines when performing water changes. Use Turtle Clean (PT1998) to assure that the beneficial organisms in the terrarium water remain at an ideal level to keep the biological filtration system performing well.
Juvenile Dart Frogs should be fed daily, while adults only need feeding every other or third day.
The terrarium should be misted at least twice a day, depending on the relative humidity, preferably with purified or distilled water to prevent mineral stains on the glass.
Live plants should be watered once a week whether in pots or planted directly in the substrate.
Clean the inside glass and decoration once or twice a week with plain water to remove any waste matter. The outside (NEVER the inside) glass can be cleaned with a paper towel and window cleaner.
In the wild, the breeding season of Strawberry Poison Dart Frogs coincides with the rainy season, which lasts from May to November. To stimulate breeding, simulate the rainy season after a drier period by increasing both length and number of the spray intervals of your misting system.
Unlike other frog species, amplexus does not occur in dart frog species. Sex determination in Strawberry poison dart frogs is rather difficult.
Once the rainy season starts, adult male frogs will start calling more often and females start to ovulate. The male Strawberry poison dart frog will look for an appropriate egg-laying site: often a dark hide with a smooth bottom surface. Hides such as the Exo Terra® Coconut Cave are the perfect egg-laying cave for your poison dart frogs. With a low buzz, the male will try to attract females. When a female finds a suitable male, she will approach him and follow him towards a site where she will lay 3 to 10 eggs. The male will fertilise the eggs and will take care of them until they hatch, keeping them moist and periodically turning them over to make sure they receive enough oxygen. It is not uncommon for a male to protect two or more egg clutches. After about 2 weeks, the eggs will have developed into tadpoles.
Once hatched, the tadpoles are individually transported by the female. She will carry the tadpole on her back and deposit it into a different, higher located, small and permanent water body (often a bromeliad) where the tadpole can grow and finish metamorphosis into a young dart frog. The rosette of the Exo Terra® Dart Frog Bromeliads allows you to replicate these natural, permanent water bodies.
Tadpoles of the Strawberry Poison Dart frogs are obligate egg feeders (oophagous): they use unfertilised eggs as their unique source of food. The female provides the tadpoles with unfertilised eggs until they reach the froglet stage. If it takes longer than 3 days before the tadpoles receive food, they will die. Cannibalism between tadpoles is impossible to avoid, so it is advisable to keep them separate. After approximately 2-4 months the tadpoles will fully metamorphose into air-breathing amphibians with a length of about 11 mm. In this stage, it is critical to provide them with sufficient plants, branches or a smooth levelled riverbank so they have easy access to the land area.
The newly-emerged frogs will absorb the remnants of their tail for the next few days and will start feeding on food items of appropriate size like fruit flies and aphids. As with adults, always dust your feeder insects with a 1:1 mix of Exo Terra® Multivitamin and Calcium +D3 powder supplement. The freshly metamorphosed frogs can be raised under similar conditions as used for the adult frogs, just make sure the water isn’t too deep, and there are slopes available so the frogs can easily climb onto land areas.
We don’t recommend the handling of Poison Dart Frogs when not necessary. Extra care should be taken when handling wild caught animals, as their skin can keep its poisonous characteristics up to several years after their introduction into the terrarium. We recommend using rubber gloves when handling wild caught Poison Dart Frogs.
Poison Dart Frogs are animals that are best observed, as they do not appreciate being picked up or handled. When manipulating Dart Frogs, they will quickly become stressed. Like most amphibians, Dart Frogs have a very sensitive skin, and are especially sensitive to chemicals like soap, lotion, etc. so make sure to always thoroughly wash and rinse your hands with warm water before and after handling any amphibian.
Every amphibian’s skin contains very mildly toxic substances that can irritate eyes or open wounds so always thoroughly wash and rinse your hands with warm water before and after handling any amphibian. If you accidentally touch your eyes while handling an amphibian, you might experience a somewhat burning sensation. Should this happen, make sure to rinse your eyes immediately and thoroughly with water, that should relief the burning sensation immediately.
Strawberry poison dart frogs are a long-lived, charismatic and interesting species, and are a great choice for more advanced keepers. Their peculiar behaviour and various pattern and color morphs make these frogs great display animals, especially when housed in a well-decorated, planted terrarium. Thanks to their small size, they will not damage fragile plants like orchids. This allows you to create an interesting, exciting and colourful piece of rainforest-like ecosystem, inhabited by both plants and animals.
Did You Know?
Strawberry poison dart frogs' toxicity works as a defense mechanism against predators, but also prevents bacterial and fungal infection. Their thin, highly permeable skin makes them extra susceptible to these types of infections. In humid environments, where both fungus and bacteria thrive, this is a very welcome trait.
In contrast to other frog species, Poison Dart Frogs take care of their offspring. The eggs are guarded and protected by the parents during the development.
Tadpoles of the Strawberry poison dart frogs are obligately oophagous: unfertilised eggs provided by the female are their only source of food.
Once the tadpole is fully grown, the female will transport the tadpole to a small pool of water. If, for any reason, the male decides to carry the tadpole to a new pool himself, the tadpole will die of starvation, as the female is unaware of the location and unable to provide unfertilised eggs.
Cannibalism between tadpoles is given, so it is advisable to keep the tadpoles separate.
While in other frog species a loud call often stands for a good health and large size, strawberry poison dart frogs limit the rate of their call to reduce energy expenditures.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a Strawberry poison dart frog the right choice for me?
Strawberry poison dart frogs are interesting animals; they are beautiful, long-lived and charismatic. On top of that, they come in a variety of pattern and color morphs. Keep in mind that Strawberry poison dart frogs are display animals, they don't like to be handled. If you are intrigued by the rainforest ecosystem, they are the perfect choice. Their small size does not endanger the wellbeing of fragile plants like orchids, which allows you to recreate a complete piece of this beautiful ecosystem, including live plants, flowers and mosses. Keep in mind that breeding these frogs can be a bit more challenging compared to other dart frog species, since the tadpoles have to be raised and fed by the female.
Should I feed a variety of food items to my Strawberry poison dart frog or can I stick to just 1 type feeder insect?
Bring as much as possible variation in your Strawberry poison dart frog’s diet to make sure that your frog receives all possible essential nutrients.
Can I keep other species of amphibians and reptiles together with my Strawberry poison dart frogs?
In general, we would advise that Strawberry poison dart frogs should definitely not be kept together with other bottom dwelling and/or diurnal species, as this could create a stressful environment. Hobbyists have reported good as well as bad experiences in regards to keeping this species together with other species. If this is your first time keeping this species, we would recommend keeping the frogs separate.
Are Strawberry poison dart frogs poisonous?
Poison dart frogs that are bred in captivity do not pose a risk of poisoning. The frogs are fed with fruit flies, springtails, aphids and other tiny invertebrates, which lack the toxic substances that are used by their wild counterparts to store in their skin. On the contrary, when handling wild caught frogs, precautions should be taken, as it might take up to several years before all the toxins have disappeared.
Can I feed my Strawberry Poison Dart Frogs wild caught insects?
We do not recommend feeding wild caught insects as these can harbor harmful bacteria. They may also have come in contact with gardening chemicals, making them poisonous for your Frogs.
Notes from the Field
The island was named by Christopher Columbus who landed here in 1502 and called the island Bastimentos which means “provisions” – as the island was used to restock supplies for his fleet. The north eastern side of Bastimentos Island faces the Caribbean Sea where all the beaches can be found. The most famous is Red Frog Beach, which got its name from the red Oophaga pumilo morph that inhabits the forest near the beach. The island’s south western side is lined with dense, lush mangroves and enjoys calmer waters, partially due to the water’s shallow depths. The Exo Terra research vessel anchored near Red Frog Marina between Isla Bastimentos and Isla Solarte.
San Cristobal is one of the larger islands with a limited human population which is scattered throughout the island and in a couple of small communities. The island’s forests are fragmented. The Exo Terra team sailed with the research vessel to the northern tip of the island where there is easy access to the degraded and primary forests. Oophaga pumilio was almost immediately located, even in the degraded forest patches at the edge of the banana plantations. This population was primarily observed on the forest floor near tree bases. The frogs at San Cristobal are extremely variable, with a red to orange dorsal colouration and blue legs. Some are dotted, while others are patternless.
The first destination was the remote Isla Escudo de Veraguas, a small isolated Caribbean island of about 4 square kilometres. It is part of the Bocas del Toro district and located about 20 km from the coastline in the Golfo de los Mosquitos. Because of its 9000 years of isolation, several animals found here are endemic or distinct from their mainland counterparts. It took the team about 9 hours of rough seas in the pouring rain and strong winds to reach this uninhabited island. The most challenging part was to get ashore with the smaller boat due to the extreme surf and strong currents, even on the most protected southern coast of the island. Once on land the rough journey was quickly forgotten due to the sheer beauty of this island, and the Exo Terra team was immediately greeted by several brown basilisks (Basiliscus vittatus). These lizards, also commonly referred to as the striped basilisks, occur from Mexico to northwestern Colombia. The brown basilisk has large hind feet with flaps of skin between each toe. They move quickly across the water, aided by their web-like feet, which gives them the appearance of “walking on water”. Once entering the rainforest, it became clear that the ability of Basiliscus vittatus to “walk on water” is a great advantage. The interior of the island consists of a peat swamp forest. A type of tropical moist forest where waterlogged soil prevents dead leaves from fully decomposing. Over time, this creates a thick layer of acidic peat. This peat is covered with stained dark brown water caused by the tannins that leach from the fallen leaves and peat. A drone flight later on showed that almost the entire island is covered by such a swamp forest, making it nearly impenetrable. The team had great difficulties moving around as there are no dry paths and with every step they sunk up above the knee and higher into the acidic peat. The only “dry” patches were around the bigger trees and between the roots of the fig trees. That is where the most spectacular Oohaga pumilio morph can be found. The animals are so contrasting and conspicuous that they easily can be located without the help of a calling male Biotope on Colon to reveal their location. The high water in the swamp and the continuous rains made it almost impossible to move around and prevented the Exo Terra team from penetrating deep inland. As a result very few other animals were observed, besides the occasional anole on tree trunks or low hanging lianas. One exciting find was the eyelash viper (Bothriechis schlegelii) on one of the many raffia palms. The eyelash viper is a venomous pit viper found throughout Central and South America. It is a small and arboreal species, characterised by a wide array of colour variations, as well as the superciliary scales above the eyes. The severe weather conditions forced the team to be picked up early from the shore as the surf increased significantly due to the strong winds. Some team members even had to swim back to the research vessel as the small boat was only able to pick up the camera and logging gear. A scary adventure by itself! Unfortunately the weather conditions didn’t improve overnight, and the vessel was forced to leave this amazing island.
Unfortunately weather conditions didn’t improve during the night and when the expedition set course to Cayo Agua it became clear that landing on this island would be extremely difficult. Cayo Agua is one of the most western islands of the Bocas del Torro archipelago and immediately exposed to the high seas of the Caribbean See. Although an interesting morph of Oophaga pumilio with yellows and whites can be found there, the team had no choice but to sail deeper into the Chiriqui Lagoon for protection.
Isla Popa is the second-largest island of the Bocas del Toro archipelago and lies less than 200 m from the mainland. Although most of the island is low-lying—below 100 m elevation—the topography is rugged, with deep ravines and several small, permanent streams.
The vegetation is dominated by humid forests, while the coastal areas consist of mangrove swamps, sedge marshes and grass-covered hills. Extensive thickets cover the forest edges and the many bananas and plantain plantations.
San Cristobal is one of the larger islands with a limited human population which is scattered throughout the island and in a couple of small communities. The island’s forests are fragmented. The Exo Terra team sailed with the research vessel to the northern tip of the island where there is easy access to the degraded and primary forests. Oophaga pumilio was almost immediately located, even in the degraded forest patches at the edge of the banana plantations.
Red-Eyed Tree Frogs are native to Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and even occur in some isolated populations in Colombia. They primarily prefer tropical rainforests and humid lowland forests but can sometimes be found in humid forests on premontane slopes up to 1250 m above sea level.
The Red-Eyed Tree Frog's common name refers directly to the beautiful, big red eyes that these frogs show at night. Red-Eyed Tree Frogs are sometimes referred to as Red-Eyed Leaf Frogs as well because of their arboreal lifestyle, sleeping on the back of the leaves in the trees and shrubs that they live in.
Red-Eyed Tree Frogs are stunning, long-lived and relatively “easy-to-care-for” amphibians. Their engaging personalities, their huge bright red eyes, bright green dorsal color with blue striped sides, and their bright orange webbed feet, make them one of the most stunning display animals for both the beginning reptile enthusiast as well as for the advanced hobbyist.
Red-Eyed Tree Frogs are a fairly social species and are best enjoyed when kept in small groups of 4 to 8 animals. The interaction between the animals in these small groups increases the viewing pleasure but also stimulates their mating behavior.
Red-Eyed Tree Frogs have been captive bred in the USA and Europe for more than 30 years. They are available in various local color variations and even an "albino type" morph with yellowish dorsal coloration and silver eyes called "lutino" is sometimes offered.
Green Anoles are native to the Southeastern United States, but have also been introduced to Hawaii, Ogasawara Islands of Japan, Cuba, the Bahamas, and Guam. Green Anoles are diurnal, primarily arboreal, iguanid lizards of the Genus Dactyloidae. Green Anoles mostly inhabit trees and shrubs in tropical & subtropical evergreen forests, but can just as well be found in open grassland with only a few trees, and even in rural and urban areas.
With their changing base color from brown to vivid green, their reddish-pink colored dewlap and their interesting displaying behaviour, these terrarium inhabitants rank among the most popular and easiest to keep beginner reptiles.
Green Anoles are a fairly social species and are best enjoyed when kept in small groups of 1 male with 3 or more females. The interaction between the animals in these small groups increases the viewing pleasure but also stimulates their mating behavior.
Green Anoles have been captive bred in the USA and Europe for more than 30 years. Green Anoles are available as captive bred specimen as well as wild-caught specimen using sustainable ranching and size-selective harvesting.
Fire-Bellied Toads are endemic to Northeastern China, Korea, and the Khabarovsk and Primorye regions in Russia. Despite their common name Fire-Bellied “Toad”, these cute amphibians are actually frogs. As the name already indicates, their bellies are brightly colored in orange, yellow or red. These strikingly colored bellies are actually a warning sign (called aposematic coloration) to inform predators that they are distasteful and should not be eaten.
Fire-Bellied Toads are hardy, long-lived and “easy-to-care-for”. Their semi-aquatic lifestyle, their exposure of belly colors as they float at the water surface, and their somewhat clumsy “amusing” motions make them appealing display animals for both the beginning reptile enthusiast as well as for the advanced hobbyist.
Fire-Bellied Toads are a fairly social species and are best enjoyed when kept in small groups of 4 to 8 animals. The interaction between the animals in these small groups increases the viewing pleasure but also stimulates their natural- and mating behavior.
Ornate Horned Frogs are hardy, long-lived, and “easy-to-care-for” amphibians. These large, terrestrial, burrowing frogs are native to South America and are characterized by more or less developed fleshy horns projection above the eyes.
The Ornate Horned Frog is only one of eight species of Horned Frogs:
Ornate Horned Frog (Ceratophrys ornata)
Cranwell’s Horned Frog (Ceratophrys cranwelli)
Suriname Horned Frog (Ceratophrys cornuta)
Brazilian Horned Frog (Ceratophrys aurita)
Caatinga Horned Frog (Ceratophrys joazeirensis)
Venezuelan Horned Frog (Ceratophrys calcarata)
Pacific Horned Frog (Ceratophrys stolzmanni)
Ecuadorian Horned Frog (Ceratophrys testudo)
The Ornate Horned Frog is one of the most commonly kept and bred Ceratophrys species. Horned Frogs are colorful and rather easy to breed which makes these fun frogs an ideal species for both the beginning amphibian enthusiast as well as for the advanced hobbyist. Captive-bred youngsters are readily available and come in a variety of colors & patterns. Next to the more common color morphs like Pattern-less Green, Strawberry, Sunburst, Albino or Chocolate, there are even hybrid morphs available called Fantasy Frogs.
Horned Frogs are commonly called Pac Man Frogs because their rounded shape and huge mouth resemble the animated character in the video game. Just like in the Pac Man game, the Horned Frogs devour everything that crosses their path.
Veiled Chameleons or Yemen Chameleons are native to Yemen and Saudi Arabia. There are also introduced populations in Hawaii (thought to be eradicated but still persisting), California and SE and SW Florida, USA. They primarily prefer montane subtropical to tropical vegetation in the deep valleys (called wadis), in the Hijaz Mountains in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Since Yemen is suffering for over a decade of war and is not an easy country to travel to, or to export animals from, it is amazing how this species was established so well in the hobby. One of the first to study this species in nature, as well as establish the captive husbandry guidelines, was the world-renowned herpetologist Petr Necas. He bred tens of thousands of Veiled Chameleons and introduced these to the hobbyists in Europe and the USA. In the meantime, this species has become not only the most readily available chameleon, but also one of the more popular reptile species in general. Due to selective breeding, there are "bloodline" variations of the Veiled Chameleon available that show more yellow/orange or bluer and there's even a partially leucistic color morph available (called translucent in the USA).
Crested Geckos (Correlophus ciliatus) are native to the islands of New Caledonia in the southern Pacific Ocean. These Crested Geckos, or Eyelash geckos, get their common names from the distinctive rows of spikes that run over their eyes and down the sides of their heads.
Thought to be extinct for many years, they were rediscovered in 1994, and several animals were brought to Europe and the United States. Soon thereafter, they proved to be very prolific in terrarium. Due to their beauty, easy manageable size, calm temperament, and ease of care in terrarium, these geckos have become one of the most popular reptiles kept as pets.
“One of the great accomplishments of herpetoculturists,” says Philippe de Vosjoli, “was to establish the New Caledonian Crested Gecko in captivity. Twenty years ago, this species was known by hobbyists only in the form of photographs of preserved museum specimens.”
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