Strawberry Poison Frog

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Other common names: Blue Jeans Poison Frog, Red Poison Dart Frog, Strawberry Poison Dart Frog

Scientific name: Dendrobates pumilio (also Oophaga pumilio)

The basics:
The Strawberry Poison Frog is common throughout Central America. It can be found in Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Panama, and it’s highest concentration in Costa Rica. They live in the rainforests of these regions but can also be found in plantation areas.

Appearance / health:
As with all Poison Frogs, the Strawberry Poison Frog is very small, only reaching up to 1 inch. This species also has many color morphs but the most common coloration is the body as a bright red or red-orange color with the legs being a dark blue, black, or even purple - hence the name “blue jeans.” The coloration of these frogs in the wild, served the purpose of warning off predators. The colors were a warning of “I taste bad” and most predators would leave them alone. (A couple other colorations of this frog include - a body color of red, yellow, or white with black spots on the back and legs; known as the bastimentos morph. A green body and blue-green legs known as the Grande/Chiriqui River morph. This frog has 15-30 different color morphs but all require the same care.)

Behavior / temperament:
Poison Dart Frogs, including the Strawberry Poison Frog, are not to be handled at all. When cleaning the tank, corral them into a deli cup or similar container and place the lid on (add air holes). In captivity, Poison Dart Frogs are not poisonous, but they are very fragile and susceptible to disease. They are also very shy and will hide if startled or if they see movement outside their tank. Poison Dart Frogs are not a beginner species, and only people experienced with keeping advanced frogs should keep these.

A standard 10 gallon tank can house a pair of Strawberry Poison Frogs. A secure lid is needed. To house more frogs, tank size must increase as well as plants and hiding places.

Temperatures need to stay warm, keep them between 75-82F. Humidity should be very high and should be maintained between 80-100%. The most recommended way to set up their tank is having a fully planted, false bottom tank. Homemade or store bought misting systems are also a good choice for these frogs since they need to be misted a lot. After building the false bottom and adding the substrate, live plants should be added. Plants to use include Bromeliads, Ferns, Mosses, Begonia, Orchids, Creeping Fig, Pothos, and various others. The plants you choose should withstand high humidity and moist conditions. Hiding areas should be provided. The most commonly used hide with poison frogs are coco huts but others may be used. Water dishes do not need to be added since these frogs will be misted many times throughout the day. Spot cleaning is needed and should be done weekly or as it becomes spoiled.

Adult frogs are only able to take small foods. Flightless fruit flies (Drosophila hydei) and 2 week old crickets are suitable for adults. Froglets and juveniles will need flightless fruit flies (Drospphila melanogaster) and pinhead crickets. Adults and juveniles also can eat springtails. Tadpoles must be offered spirulina, chlorella, flaked fish food, daphnia, and larvae of mosquitoes and flour beetles. (In the wild the mother lays unfertile eggs for tadpole food, this may not be available in captivity).

Just like other amphibians, poison frogs need a dry season and a wet season to stimulate them to breed. Misting should halt for 1-2 weeks and feedings should also be reduced to twice a week. After this period, return to normal misting schedules and increase feedings again. It may also be beneficial to separate males from females during the dry season. The absence of the opposite sex, may encourage them to breed more when being reintroduced. Temperatures should also be reduced down to 70-72F. Once egg laying starts, this is where poison frogs differ from other frogs. Eggs are laid on leaves or in the base areas of the bromeliads. The male and female will guard and moisten the eggs (by emptying their bladders) and when they hatch, the tadpoles are moved to a pool of water by climbing up the female’s back. In other words, they basically piggy back ride on mom’s back to a different pool of water. This other pool of water can be created by adding a Petri dish in one of the hiding areas. This dish should have 1-3mm of water in it. Film canisters can also be used and tipped slightly upward with 1-3mm of water inside. Once tadpoles are moved and situated again, they may be taken out to raise individually by hand. Eggs should be moved into an area where they will be kept warm (some have reared at room temp) In about 10-15 days, they will leave the egg cases. Tadpoles can be moved singly into their own raising containers. Deli cups, quart sized plastic containers, Kritter Keepers, and other enclosures can be used. 50-90% water changes should be done every couple days to once a week depending on how much water and food is being used. “Tadpole Tea” may also be added to the water. This is created by boiling Indian almond leaves and keeping the water. These leaves may also be added wholly into the container to serve as a treat for the tadpoles. After about 6-8 weeks, the tadpoles will morph into froglets. Any water used for the tadpoles or adults should always be treated and dechlorinated.

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