Know Your Dart-Poison Frog

by AMNH on

On Exhibit posts

Ten diminutive, colorful dart-poison frog species are featured in a lively vivarium in the Museum’s live-animal exhibition Frogs: A Chorus of Colors, now open at the Museum. In the wild, about 180 species of these frogs, called dendrobatids, have been discovered so far, with more still being identified.

Get to know a few species before you see the frogs live in the exhibition.

Phyllobates terribilis (Golden poison frog)

A yellow frog with large dark eyes, perched on a green leaf.
Golden poison frog

Size: Up to 2 inches

Range and habitat: Tropical rain forests in Colombia

Frog Fact: Golden poison frogs are excellent “tongue hunters,” rarely missing a strike; they are also the most poisonous dart-poison frog species. (In the Frogs exhibition, however, all dart-poison frogs are fed a nontoxic diet—so the frogs are nontoxic, too.)


Dendrobates auratus (Green and black poison frog)

A frog with green and black markings on its trunk, head, and limbs, perched on a green leaf.
Green and black poison frog

Size: 1 to 2 inches

Range and habitat: Rain forests and plantations, Nicaragua to Colombia

Frog Fact: Like most dendrobatids, green and black poison frogs are diurnal and are active all day long.


Phyllobates bicolor (Black-legged poison frog)

A Black Legged poison dart frog perched on a green leaf. The bright yellow-colored animal has darker limbs of a greenish hue.
Black legged poison frog

Size: 1 to 1.75 inches

Range and habitat: Tropical rain forests in Colombia

Frog Fact: Black-legged poison frogs are mainly solitary, but in certain seasons they gather in large groups to find mates.


Dendrobates tinctorius (Blue poison frog)

Two blue poison dart frogs on a green leaf. The animals have bright blue skin with black spots on their body trunks and heads, and dark blue limbs.
Blue dart poison frog

Size: 1 to 1.75 inches

Range and habitat: Forests in northern South America

Frog Fact: Some blue poison frog “morphs” combine white, black, yellow—and, of course, brilliant blue.


Dendrobates leucomelas (Bumble bee [or yellow-banded] poison frog)

A poison dart frog with a black body with bright yellow markings, perched on a green leaf.
Yellow banded poison frog

Size: 1 to 1.5 inches

Range and habitat: Western Venezuela to Guyana

Frog Fact: Native to dry forests, this species often hides away until the rains come, after which it ventures forth to forage.

A version of this story appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of Rotunda, the Member magazine.