Golden Poison Frog

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Other common names: Golden Dart Frog, Golden Poison Arrow Frog

Scientific name: Phyllobates terribilis

The basics:
The Golden Poison Frog is one of 3 species once used by indigenous people as the source of dart poison, but don’t let the species name - ‘terribilis” - throw you! Happily for us, this attractive frog cannot manufacture deadly skin toxins unless provided a diet of specific invertebrate species. Apparently “believing” that it is still toxic, however, the Golden Poison Frog is even bolder than its relatives, and so makes a wonderful display animal.

The Golden Poison Frog is native the Pacific coast of Columbia, South America, where it is limited to rainforests on the foothills of the western Andes Mountains.

Appearance / health:
The Golden Poison Frog’s body is golden-yellow or orange in color, with some populations being pale green. With an average length of 47 mm (1.9 inches), it is one of the larger Poison Frogs.

Well-cared-for pets may reach 15+ years of age. Calcium deficiencies and other nutritional disorders are the most commonly-encountered health problems.

Behavior / temperament:
You can expect to see many interesting behaviors from your Golden Poison Frogs, as they are always foraging, exploring, interacting, and otherwise on the go.

Poison Frogs should be handled only when necessary, and then by being urged into a plastic container to protect the skin’s protective mucus layer. While they do not produce virulent toxins when fed typical captive diets, other skin secretions may cause irritations when transferred to wounds, eyes, or the mouth.

Golden Poison Frogs do best in terrariums planted with ferns, bromeliads, and other plants. A pair can be kept in a 20 gallon aquarium. One-half inch of de-chlorinated water should be provided in a shallow bowl or sloping pool. Poison Frogs will escape through even the tiniest of openings, so the terrarium’s cover must be secured with clips. A mix of coconut husk, peat moss, and topsoil, covered with sheet moss, makes a good substrate.

Low levels of UVB and UVA may be of some benefit. Temperatures should range from 65-75 F, with a slight dip at night if possible; extended periods above 75 F may prove fatal. Humidity of 80-100% should be maintained.

Ideally, your pets should be offered springtails, flour and bean beetle larvae, 2 week-old crickets, fruit flies, termites, aphids, tiny butter and silkworms, and “meadow plankton” (insects gathered by sweeping through tall grass with a net). Most meals should be coated with a Calcium/Vitamin D3 supplement; a vitamin/mineral supplement may be used 2-3x weekly.

Males may be distinguished by their thinner builds, but sexing can be difficult. Breeding occurs year-round, and may be stimulated by a month long period during which time misting is reduced. Multiple clutches of 5-30 eggs will be deposited on petri dishes placed below dark shelters. The tadpoles, best reared singly, hatch within 14-18 days and accept tropical fish flakes, tadpole pellets, and freeze-dried Daphnia. At 72 F, metamorphosis is achieved in 70-100 days.

Written by Frank Indiviglio


excellent species, hardiest dart frogs, beautiful calls, boldest frogs, visibility


densely planted vivarium, huge living terrarium


pinhead crickets, numerous fruit fly

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