Dendrobates tinctorius

Dendrobates tinctorius

Dendrobates tinctorius

Dendrobates tinctorius

Dendrobatidae

1,4-2,8" or 3,5-7 cm

10 to 15 years (some individuals even live up to 20 years)

French Guiana and parts of northern Brazil, Guyana and Suriname

primary lowland rainforests

78-81° F or 25-27°C

80-100%

One Star

Beginner

Dendrobates tinctorius

Dyeing Poison Dart Frog

Dyeing poison dart frogs are endemic to the eastern part of the Guiana Shield: French Guiana, southeastern Guyana, southwestern Suriname, and a relatively small adjacent part of northern Brazil.

The species is known for its extensive colour and pattern polymorphism, both within and among populations. The frog's pattern is made up of a black base color and a varying combination of bands, splotches and dots in different shades of blue, yellow, white, and even orange. 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).

Dyeing poison dart frogs live a 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, curious nature, and the fact that they are easy to care for makes them appealing display animals for both the beginning amphibian enthusiast as well as for the advanced hobbyist. Dyeing poison dart frogs are best kept as pairs or trios consisting of two males and one female: females might express dominant and aggressive behaviour towards other females when there is a conflict of interest in a specific male.

Dendrobates auratus on a tree trunk - by E. Van Heygen.

History

Dendrobates tinctorius

Dyeing poison dart frogs were the first poison dart frogs known to Europeans. The species was first scientifically described as "Rana tinctoria" in 1797 by the French naturalist and zoologist, Georges Cuvier, also referred to as the "father of paleontology". The species has been captive bred in the USA and Europe for more than 40 years.

The name "dendrobates" originates from the Greek words "dendro" (tree) and "bates" (walker or climber), which refers to the way these frogs are moving trough the lower vegetation layers, climbing into low bushes and tree trunks. Both the species specific name "tinctorius" (Latin for soak in dye) and the common name "dyeing" refer to accounts of an indigenous tribal custom: it is said that these frogs were used to modify the feather colors of young green parrots.

Characteristics

Dyeing 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.

Colour polymorphism 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 Dyeing poison dart frog's pattern is made up of a black base color and a varying combination of bands, splotches and dots in different shades of blue, yellow, white, and even orange. In some colour morphs, the darker colour will be more prominent, making up most of the frog's pattern.

Here are a few names often used for tinctorius morphs, arranged by their country of origin:
Brazil: Tumucumaque, Blue sipaliwini, Green sipaliwini, Lorenzo
French Guyana: Matecho, Blue jeans, Nominat, Oyapock, Regina, Saul
Suriname: Alanis, Awarape, Azureus, Bakhuis, Citronella, Cobalt, Natasha,
Nikita, Oelemarie, Patricia, Tafelberg, Sipaliwini, Powder blue

Overall, adult frogs range from 1,4-2,4" or 3,5-6 cm in total length, but some morphs can grow up to 2,8" or 7 cm! There are a few differences between males and females, the most obvious one being the size of the toe discs of the two front legs: the males' toe discs are wider compared to the females'. Adult males don't grow as large as females, are slenderer and posses a more upright posture.

Distribution

Dyeing poison dart frogs are endemic to the eastern Guiana Shield, more specifically: French Guiana, southeastern Guyana, southwestern Suriname, and a relatively small adjacent part of northern Brazil. They are often found near canopy gaps in primary rainforests and can be found on heights ranging from 0 to 600 meter above sea level.

The Guiana Shield is an ancient geological formation, characterised by a rich biodiversity. It comprises Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, most of southern Venezuela and extreme parts of Brazil and Colombia. Small parts of the lowland forests on this formation are separated by, for Dyeing poison dart frogs unsuitable habitat, like dry savannahs, high mountain plateaus and periodically inundated regions. Prehistorical climate fluctuations periodically allowed these populations to mix again. This periodical separating and joining of habitats could explain both the similarities, as well as the differences between and inside populations of Dyeing poison dart frogs.

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.

Dyeing poison dart frogs are diurnal; they hunt and eat during the day. They inhabit primary rainforests at an altitude from 0 to 600m and are mainly bottom dwellers, living in between the foliage and roots that cover the forest floor. According to research performed by Rojas et al. (2019), there is a significant difference between the microhabitats frequented by males and females: females seem to prefer leaf littered open spaces while males are mostly found in vegetation structures like branches, logs, roots and trunks. It is suggested that this is related to their parental instincts: males are looking for egg laying sites while females are foraging. Dyeing poison dart frogs are often seen vibrating both second toes of their hind legs. This behavior is associated with hunting and intraspecific interactions like courtship or territorial behavior.

In contrast to other dart frog species, male dyeing dart frogs will rarely call. They only call when interacting with other dyeing dart frogs: during courtship, or as part of territorial behavior. Once the female finds a suitable male, she will stroke his back and snout and they will start their search for an appropriate egg laying site. Logs, leaf litter, palm leaves, bromeliads and even animal burrows; these are all suitable egg deposit sites as long as they are sheltered and not exposed to the rain. 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 takes about 2 weeks for the eggs to develop into tadpoles. When a tadpole is fully developed, it is able to wriggle on the back of the male. The male will then carry the tadpole on its back and deposit it into a, higher located, small and permanent water body, like tree trunk pools or bromeliads. Here, the tadpole will feed on detritus and larvae of insects or even on other tadpoles. After two months it is fully grown, and the tadpole will finish its metamorphosis into a young dart frog.

Dendrobates tinctorius

In the Terrarium

Dyeing poison dart frogs are best kept as pairs or trios consisting of two males and one female: females might express dominant and aggressive behaviour towards other females when there is a conflict of interest in a specific male. This behaviour 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 behaviour continuously should be separated. Territorial behaviour 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 an harmonised natural microhabitat. All Frogs & Co items are key components to successfully establish a bioactive planted terrarium with a thriving frog population.

Dendrobates auratus

Terrarium

Exo Terra® Natural Terrariums are designed by European herpetologists and offer several housing options for Dyeing 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. Dyeing 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 Dyeing Poison Dart Frogs, since they live a mainly terrestrial lifestyle:

RECOMMENDED TERRARIUMS
Animals
(WxDxH)
(WxDxH)
up to 2-3 Frogs
45 x 45 x 60 cm
18” x 18” x 24”
up to 2-3 Frogs
45 x 45 x 60 cm
18” x 18” x 24”
up to 2-3 Frogs
45 x 45 x 90 cm
18” x 18” x 36”
up to 3-4 Frogs
60 x 45 x 90 cm
24” x 18” x 36”
up to 4-5 Frogs
90 x 45 x 90 cm
36” x 18” x 36"

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.

Lighting

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.

Heating

Dyeing poison dart frogs thrive at temperatures of 78-81°F or 25-27°C during the day, with a drop of 5-9°F or 3-5°C at night. If the temperature in your room is at the lower end of the temperature optimum, a Turtle Heater is ideal to increase the water temperature. Exposure to temperatures below 65°F or 18°C and above 90°F or 32°C for longer periods can be fatal to these poison dart frogs. The water temperature in the Paludarium section should be kept at around 78°F or 25°C. Exo Terra® Turtle Heaters are convenient to use as they are preset to 78-79°F or 25-26°C. An Exo Terra® Heat Mat can also be used if applied to one side of the terrarium, creating a temperature gradient. Use an Exo Terra® Digital or Analog thermometer to monitor the temperature. The Heat Lamp or Heat Mat wattage may need to be adjusted depending on the ambient room temperature and the terrarium type used. To ensure the perfect ambient temperature for your Frogs, an Exo Terra® Thermostat can be used (see Monitoring section).

Monitoring

During the day, an average relative humidity of 70-80% and temperature of 78-81°F or 25-27°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.

Substrates

Dyeing 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 provides 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.

Plants

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 these 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, and is 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 Bromelia's, Scindapsus, Philodendron and hanging Plants are easy to clean & maintain, while the weighted base of the Bromeliads, Scindapsus, Philodendron allows you to easily position the plant after maintenance.

Hide Outs

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.

Decor

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.

Nutrition

Dyeing poison dart frogs feed on tiny, live insects and other arthropods. Fruit flies can be fed as a staple diet, complemented with other live prey such as aphids, springtails, bean beetles, rice flour beetles, small fly larvae and pinhead crickets. The length of their prey should not exceed 3 mm or 0,1 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.

Water

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.

Dyeing 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® Natural Terrariums and Frog Terrariums provides the ideal amount of ventilation, without compromising the required relative humidity.

Maintenance

Land area;
Spot-clean your Dyeing 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.

Water part;
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 Exo Terra® Aquatize (PT1979) to remove harmful heavy metals, chlorine and chloramines when performing water changes. Use Turtle Clean (PT 1998) 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.

Breeding

In the wild, the breeding season of Dyeing Poison Dart Frogs coincides with the rainy season, which, depending on the location, can last from December to June. 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 is difficult but not impossible based on the toe discs of the two front legs: the males' toe discs are wider compared to the females'.

Once the rainy season starts, the male Dyeing 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. When a female finds a suitable male, she will stroke his back and snout and the male will lead her towards a site where she, if she approves, will lay her 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 takes about 2 weeks for the eggs to develop into tadpoles. When a tadpole is fully developed, the male will carry the tadpole on its back and deposit it into a, higher located, small and permanent water body where the tadpole can grow and finish metamorphosis into a young dart frog.

The rosette of the Exo Terra® Dart Frog Bromelia allows you to replicate these natural, permanent water bodies. Cannibalism between tadpoles is possible, so it is advisable to keep them separate.

Once the tadpoles start swimming they will start feeding on frog & tadpole food, dead insects, chopped earthworms, fish food flakes, algae, plants, etc. It takes the tadpoles approximately 2-4 months to fully metamorphose into air-breathing amphibians. In this stage, it is critical to provide the metamorphosing tadpoles with sufficient plants, branches or a smooth levelled riverbank so they have easy access to the land area.

The newly-emerged froglets 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.

Handling

We don’t recommend the handling of Poison Dart Frogs if unnecessary. 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.

Dendrobates tinctorius

Conclusion

Dyeing poison dart frogs are a long-lived, robust and “easy-to-care-for” species, making them an ideal beginner’s animal. The 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.

Dyeing Poison Dart Frogs have been captive bred in the USA and Europe for more than 40 years, and captive bred youngsters are readily available in reptile stores as well as from breeders.

Dendrobates tinctorius "Yellow Back" sitting on a leaf.

Did You Know?

Dyeing poison dart frogs' toxicity works as a defence 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.

Once the tadpole is fully grown, one of the parents (typically the male) will transport the tadpole to a small pool of water.

Cannibalism between tadpoles is possible, so it is advisable to keep the tadpoles separate.

Legends say that these frogs were used to modify the feather colours of young green parrots. The feathers of young parrots would be plucked on a selected area, and the frog rubbed against the exposed skin. New feathers growing on this patch would be coloured yellow or red instead of green. These unique and valuable feathers would then be used in headdresses.

Unlike other frogs, even compared to some closely related species, Dendrobates tinctorius is one of the few frog species that does not vocalise very often, and if it does, it is at very low intensities.

Dyeing poison dart frogs are often seen vibrating both second toes of their hind legs. This behavior is associated with hunting and intraspecific interactions like courtship or territorial behavior.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Dyeing poison dart frog the right choice for me?

Dyeing poison dart frogs are great animals; they are beautiful, long-lived and “easy-to-care-for”, on top of that, they come in a variety of pattern and color morphs. Keep in mind that Dyeing 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. Dyeing poison dart frogs are readily available and they're captive bred, making them safe animals to start with.

Should I feed a variety of food items to my Dyeing poison dart frog or can I stick to just 1 type feeder insect?

Bring as much as possible variation in your Dyeing 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 Dyeing poison dart frogs?

Hobbyists have reported good as well as bad experiences in regards to keeping this species together with other species. In general we would advise that Dyeing poison dart frogs should definitely not be kept together with other bottom dwelling and/or diurnal species, as this could create a stressful environment.

Are Dyeing 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 Dyeing 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.

Dendrobates tinctorius

Other species

Takynodromo sexlineatus eating from a Exo Terra Canopy Combo Dish

Takydromus sexlineatus

Six-striped Long-tailed lizards, sometimes also referred to as Grass Lizards, are native to the Southeastern Asia region, including countries like India, China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia. Six-striped Long-tailed Lizards are diurnal, primarily arboreal, lizards of the Genus Takydromus. With their long tail and slender body, the Long-tailed lizards are perfectly adapted to inhabit the tropical & subtropical open forests & grasslands with shrubs, bushes and tall grasses.

With their slender-built and long tails, these gentle, easy-going lizards rank among the most popular and easiest to keep beginner reptiles. It is simply fun to watch the balancing acts these agile and energetic lizards perform while cruising through the terrarium plants and decoration.

Six-striped Long-tailed Lizards are a fairly social species and are best enjoyed when kept in small groups of 1 male with 3 or more females. Although Long-tailed lizard males are not extremely territorial, housing 2 or more males in an enclosure might result in fights and injuries. The interaction between the animals in these small groups increases the viewing pleasure but also stimulates their mating behavior.

Six-striped Long-tailed Lizards have been captive bred in the USA and Europe for more than 20 years. Long-tailed Lizards are available as wild-caught specimen, but are also occasionally available as captive bred youngsters in stores or on reptile shows.

Bombina orientalis

Bombina orientalis

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.

Cruziohyla sylviae

Cruziohyla sylviae

Sylvia's Tree Frogs are native to Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. They prefer primary tropical rainforests located at low to mid elevations, up to 750m above sea level. The type locality of the Sylvia's Tree Frog is Guayacán in the province of Limón, Costa Rica.

The Sylvia's Tree Frog's common name refers to the 3-year-old granddaughter of the Herpetologist Andrew Gray, who described the species in 2018.

Sylvia's Tree Frogs are stunning, long-lived and relatively “easy-to-care-for” amphibians. Their engaging personalities, bright green dorsal color, their orange with black tiger striped flanks, and their bright orange webbed feet and inner thighs, make them one of the most stunning display animals for both the beginning reptile enthusiast as well as for the advanced hobbyist.

Sylvia's Tree Frogs live an arboreal lifestyle, sleeping on the back of the leaves in the trees and shrubs that they live in.

Sylvia's 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.

Sylvia's Tree Frogs have been captive bred in the USA and Europe for several years now, but were mostly mistakenly named Cruziohyla calcarifer, until Andrew Gray described the species as Cruziohyla sylviae.

Grammostola rosea

Grammostola rosea

The docile temperament of the Chilean Rose Tarantula (Grammostola rosea), combined with its stunning visual appeal, and easy-to-care-for nature, makes it a favorite among those new to tarantula keeping.

Furcifer pardalis

Furcifer pardalis

Panther Chameleons are native to Madagascar, but have also been introduced to Réunion Island somewhere between 1750 and 1836. They were first brought to Réunion by sailors who left them at the landing port of the island during that era, which was in the vicinity of Saint Paul. The Panther Chameleons thrived and over time, they spread to various parts of the Island. There have also been sightings of Furcifer pardalis on Mauritius Island, but these populations are expected to have been introduced quite recently.

They primarily prefer warm and humid lowland coastal forests, rainforest canopies, secondary forests, plantations and hotel or home gardens and planted fences.

Ever since the Panther Chameleon was imported in Europe and the USA, starting around 1980, herpetologists and reptile breeders have worked on enhancing the captive husbandry guidelines continuously. For instance, the use of UVB lighting was a game changer and after a decade or two, the Panther Chameleon became well-established in the hobby.

Due to the hardiness, the gentle character and the striking colors, the Panther Chameleon, rapidly became a popular terrarium animal. The Panther Chameleon is currently available, as captive bred animals, in many geographic color morphs.

There's currently a wide array of captive bred, geographic color forms of the Panther Chameleon available from breeders as well as in stores and on reptile shows. There are also color morphs available that have been selectively bred to increase a certain color or color combination by mixing various natural, geographic color forms. Panther Chameleons have now been captive bred in Europe and the USA for more than 30 years.

Chamaeleo calyptratus

Chamaeleo calyptratus

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).

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