Creatures of the Amazon
The Poison Dart Frogs

By Mike Collis

Family name: Dendrobatidae
Brazil Nut Poison Frog

There are over 100 species of Poison Dart Frogs but only 3 are dangerous to humans. The secretions from the backs of Poison Dart Frogs or Poison Arrow Frogs as they are also called are used by Central and South American natives to tip their arrows and darts for hunting.

The most dangerous Poison Dart Frog is the Golden Poison Arrow Frog (Phyllobates terribilis) from Western Colombia. It's poison is called batrachotoxin and is extremely potent and can kill humans. Surprisingly Poison Arrow Frogs lose their poison in captivity which brings scientists to believe their toxicity comes from the insects they eat or the plants that their prey eats.

Poison Arrow Frogs live throughout Central and South America and some are found on the Hawaiian Islands. The size of poison frogs varies but it's fair to say that they are from just under 1 inch to 3 inches in length. Of the 100 species or so of Poison Arrow Frogs they all vary in colour. The yellow-banded species looks like it's been painted in black and yellow. The black and green species is green with black spots. Do not be misled by these pretty colours, the poison is in the skin. The patterns on the frogs are used as camouflage but the bright colours are there with a message, and the message is "Beware, touch me and I'll mess you up!". It is not always the case that all of these frogs are poisonous because some frogs are brightly coloured to give the impression to would be predators that they are poisonous and should be avoided when in fact they are completely harmless.

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