Dart Poison

Part of the Frogs: A Chorus of Colors exhibition.


 © Taran Grant/AMNH

Golden Poison Frog, Phyllobates terribilis: The golden poison frog is found in moist tropical rain forests. They lay eggs on land, and when the tadpoles hatch, the male carries them on his back to a larger area of water where they will complete their metamorphosis.

The Emberá Chocó, an indigenous people of western Colombia, rely on three local and highly toxic frog species to poison their blow darts. Hunters rub handmade darts along the backs of the frogs; scientists report that a single Phyllobates terribilis frog can supply enough toxin to taint 30 to 50 darts, which stay potent for roughly a year. The Emberá typically use their blowguns for hunting, but in the past may have also used them in warfare.