Scientific name: Ranitomeya benedicta
Ranitomeya benedicta is one of the most recently discovered species within the genus Ranitomeya, having been discovered in 2008. They are found throughout the lowland plains of Peru, from the Rio Huallaga area to San Martin. They generally dwell in undisturbed lowland forests at around 150m in elevation, though in some cases they can be found up to 450m. Seemingly, they are most prevalent near tree falls or open areas within the forest.
Appearance / health:
Of all of the species within the genus Ranitomeya, R. benedicta are arguably some of the most outstandingly colored dart frogs in the hobby today. They have vibrantly colored red crowns, black eyes, and black bodies with bright blue reticulations. Though, some specimens lack the blue reticulations and have just bare black bodies, though the black bodied individuals are usually found further north. R. benedicta are also some of the largest frogs in all of the genus Ranitomeya with adults that may reach up to 20.2mm from snout to vent.
For housing a pair of R. benedicta, I’d suggest a 10 gallon tank at the very least, however a 20 gallon tank or larger is generally what I prefer. It’s a great idea to convert the horizontally oriented tank to a vertical oriented tank using cut glass, some acrylic parts, and 100% silicone sealant. Instructions can be found online doing a simple search or looking on sites like Josh’s Frogs, Black Jungle, Dendroboard, or DartDen.
As far as plants go the tank should include bromeliads, some vining plants(philodendrons, pothos), ferns, begonias, and some ground cover. It’s really your choice but make sure that all plants are frog safe and do not contain pesticides or fertilizers.
You may use film canisters stuck to the glass using a suction cup as water areas and egg laying spots. You may usually be able to ask your neighborhood photography store for extra canisters, as they generally give them to you for free. Be sure to provide a lot of leaf litter to hide under and wood to climb on. Malaysian driftwood, Ghostwood, and Mopani wood are good choices, though I prefer Malaysian driftwood for it’s anti-molding qualities.
Finally a false bottom should be considered, unless you prefer to deconstruct your tank a lot in order to clean it. Not including one allows for the water sprayed into the tank to move down and rest at the bottom of the tank, thus becoming stagnant. Stagnant water will act as a breeding ground for all types of bacteria. A false bottom is a way to separate the standing water from the substrate, and allows for easier removal of this water.
Two ways to build a false bottom are:
1. Put about a 2-5” layer of hydroton on the bottom of the tank while separating the substrate from the hydroton using window screening that is put on top of the hydroton and anchored down by the substrate on top.
2. Use PVC pipe cut into “pillars” of around 2”-4” in height, spread them evenly and silicone them to the bottom of the tank, cut a section of “egg crate” ceiling tile to fit perfectly the dimensions of the bottom while covering the egg crate with the screening, and lay the screening covered egg crate on top of the PVC pillars. Finally put your substrate on top. This allows you to view the water level so that you can syphon out the water using 1/4” tubing once it gets higher than you prefer.
Care is quite easy once you have your tank setup properly and follow these simple rules. The first issue to address are your water choices. Using either Reverse osmosis, aged tap, or treated water is essential for misting. Misting should be done around 1-2x’s every 1-3 days so that the relative humidity within the tank is roughly 40-100%. Do not use water straight from the tap, baby water(that contains flouride), or untreated water. My preference is Reverse osmosis water as it is absolutely pure. You may find it at some Grocery stores, most Aquarium shops, or pet stores. Regardless, make sure to change water dishes every few days, as well as making sure that there isn’t any foul smell coming from the tank. If so, think about cleaning the tank thoroughly without using any types of soaps or cleaners. A 10% bleach/water solution or simply water and a razor blade will do just fine.
Either way, the goal is to maintain an internal temperature within the tank of around 68o-82o during the day with a 10o drop at night. In order to attain this temperature place any florescent light around 2-4” above the tank or a 25 watt-50 watt heating bulb around 4”-6” above the tank. Check to make sure you’re hitting the right temperature, as all houses may differ depending on season. Be sure to then make adjustments as needed. The light cycle should be set for 12hrs. on/12hrs. off schedule.
Finally, the last rule is to not handle your frogs, or at least, not more than 1-2 times a week for short periods of time. Remember that their skin is semi-permeable which means that the bacteria on your hands, or anything else, could be absorbed directly into your animal. This may result in death or disease in your animal which can be easily avoided.
All dart frogs in the thumbnail group will feed on Melanogaster fruit flies as the main part of their diet, although a varied diet is essential to help keep your frogs healthy.
The most common feeding insects are:
Fruit Flies (Melanogaster or Turkish Gliders for small darts)
Rice Flour Beetles
10 day old crickets (only for larger dart frog species
Generally, you should feed around 10-20 flies/frog every 1-4 days while dusting the flies every 2-3 times per week with a high quality vitamin/calcium supplement. Repcal, Herpovite, Dendrocare, Repashy, and Nekton are all high quality supplements to use. Also, make sure that you have a multivitamin with calcium and D3 or purchase a calcium supplement with D3 separately. Finally, add some springtails and isopods to act as a cleanup crew, some variety in their diet, and to help turn dead leaves and flies into soil. The other mentioned feeding items should be researched prior to including in your frogs diet.
Although R. benedicta are primarily arboreal, they conduct breeding on the forest floor. The females will lay around 4-6 eggs in the leaf litter until the eggs mature into tadpoles. Once the tadpoles are ready to emerge from their egg the males will deposit them into bromeliad axils for rearing. As with most other Ranitomeya, R. benedicta males will check on their offspring to make sure they’re fed and wet. If they’re hungry the males will alert the females and the females will then deposit infertile eggs into the bromeliad. If the tadpoles are starting to dry out, the male will actually “urinate” into the bromeliad to help keep them wet.
Written by Matthew Olsen
Lot of Care Required
The Blessed Poison frogs are brilliant in color an unique to their species, as they are active by day and more bold than most typical frogs. They are small tree dwelling frogs native to the Amazonian part of Peru and surrounding countries.
The reason these frogs are bold is because their toxins discourage other animals from eating them. The brilliant colors are from the toxins, which come from the food they eat in the wild. Captive Blessed Poison frogs do not have the toxins, due to the food their are fed in captivity, but they retain their bright colors.
Young frogs are particularly nervous, but adult frogs kept in a well planted terrarium are visible much of the day. They might even "call out" to you if they see you bustling about the room their terrarium is in.
The Blessed Poison frogs are relatively heat tolerant, but keeping them in mid 80 degree Fahrenheit temperatures for more than a few hours will be fatal. The same goes for temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The frogs can die or suffer long term health conditions. I recommend 70-80 degrees during the day with a slight decrease in temperature at night no less than 65 degrees.
The terrarium set up is quite complex. The heating needs to be built in from the start. I use a long snake heating cable buried in the substrate in a room controlled by a thermostat.
The terrarium should be taller than wide. A larger terrarium will proved a more stable environment for these frogs. The Blessed Poison frogs are not territorial so there can be more than one in the habitat, provided there is enough space.
Humidity control is essential. These frogs tolerate limited ventilation, so maintaining a humidity level of 80+% is not difficult.
This is where it gets complicated. Due to the high humidity, it is vital to have a drainage layer underneath to prevent water-logged substrate. If the substrate rots, it can release harmful gases and eliminate helpful organisms.
For the Blessed Poison frogs' substrate, I advise the use of Atlanta Botanical Gardens mix (ABG mix) or homemade clay substrate. ABG mix is available commercially from frog vendors. This substrate is rarely cleaned or changed as the organisms that live it it will break down food and animal waste.
For lighting, I use a dome fixture with a daylight spectrum bulb with a color temperature between 5,000 and 1,000 Kelvin. I have the light on a timer for 12 hours of daylight 365 days a year, which is the light cycle found at tropical latitudes.
Poison Blessed frogs eat wingless and/or flightless fruit flies. Don't worry, they won't fly around your house if they escape. Feed the frogs every two days, 20-30 flies per frog. Do not overfeed them because if the frogs don't eat them all, the remaining flies will stress them by climbing on them. Over time this could lead to the frogs getting sick and dying. The flies need to be dusted with supplements, rotating calcium at one feeding and multivitamins at another feeding.
Note: Thanks to the effort of the Canadian conservation driven company Understory Enterprises, U.S. specimens of the Blessed Poison frogs are entirely captive bred and of legal origin. This company actually uses its profits to fund frog conservation and habitat conservation.
The Blessed Poison frogs are truly remarkable, but not a good frog for first time frog owners. For the best possible experience in owning one, it would be best to talk to a breeder or successful Blessed Poison frog owner for learning what is the best equipment for a suitable terrarium and how to properly care for these animals..
From ShaySchwa May 3 2014 2:49PM