A Complete Guide to Dart Frog Care and Breeding
The dart frog, or a poison dart frog, is an amphibian that many enthusiasts seek out on a regular basis. This is due to their beautiful complexions, and part of it comes down to their interesting behavior patterns.
Therefore, for today, we’ll be taking an in-depth look into dart frogs, and how to go about taking care of them. It’s not always simple, but you’ll definitely be pleased to hear that it’s entirely possible.
While the name poison dart frog might sound ominous when these frogs come from captive settings they typically aren’t dangerous at all. We’ll have more on that for you later, but we wanted to make sure we established that right out of the gate.
The dart frog comes in so many different shapes and colors, which is why there is a lot of hype around these frogs. Plus, if you’re big into the world of amphibians, you already know how widely sought after these frogs really are. Now, if you’re thinking about picking up a dart frog of your own, or even if you’re caring for one already, you’ll def want to pay very close attention to what we have to say.
We know that there is a lot to go over, which is why we’ve broken everything up into easy to read sections for you that like this:
- What is the poison dart frog?
- The various species
- How to take care of the dart frog
- Tadpole care
- A brief recap on everything we go over today
Now that you know what’s on the menu for today, let’s take a look at the facts. Also, please keep in mind that when we say dart frog, we’re referring to the poison dart frog.
Are you ready?
Let’s dive in.
What is a poison dart frog?
Before we dive right into the core part of this article, it’s definitely important to have some context about what exactly the dart frog is. Therefore, in this section, we’ll break down some of the facts for you. So let’s take a look at some of the facts surrounding this beautiful amphibian, and clear some myths from the air as well.
Where are dart frogs from?
The dart frog is native to tropical regions, which means that they absolutely love the rain forest. This is due to the large ecosystems that the rainforest offers, which means plenty of insects for these little guys to eat. While they love tropical areas, the most common places to find these frogs are in central or south American. Why those locations? Well, because those locations have the highest density of rain forests on the entire planet. So when you think about the dart frog, always remember that they’re tropical amphibians.
They love humidity, but one of the more interesting things to note is that they’re floor roamers. So unlike a lot of other frogs that may reside in the rainforest, dart frogs like to stick to the ground. Therefore, when it comes to the heat, they actually don’t like it as hot as some other amphibians do.
How big are dart frogs?
The images you see on google likely won’t do these little guys any justice, and let us be the first to tell you that there is a reason we’re calling them little guys. This is due to the fact that dart frogs are very small amphibians. As tadpoles, you can barely see them, and as they grow larger that doesn’t change much.
You’ll definitely be able to see their radiant colors, but when it comes to their size, they tend to be about 2 inches tops. Plus, for most species, these frogs will only reach an inch at best. Therefore, their color is important, because without their bright complexion you honestly might miss them. On average, they’ll be about the size of your fingernail. Pretty tiny right?
How long do they last?
When it comes to lifespan, you’ll definitely want to know how long you’ll have a pet for, right? The tricky thing about the dart frog is that it really comes down to a couple of factors. In the wild, they tend to last about 5 years on average. This is due to the environment, and the same ecosystem that gives them life often ends up being their demise as well.
When they’re in captivity, though, they tend to last much longer on average. While the exact average is not known, you can expect a dart frog to last around 5 to 8 years. Now, while this may be the average, some dart frogs have lasted well over 20 long years in captivity. So when push comes to shove, you can expect to have these little guys around for quite some time.
Where did the name come from?
With dart in the name, it’s pretty interesting. It’s not a scientific name like most other species out there in the wild, and there is definitely a reason for that. The reason? Well, that lies within ancient history. This is due to the fact that tribes native to the region used to use their poison in warfare. Therefore, when it comes down to it, that’s how the dart frog got its name. Pretty violent and dangerous history right? Don’t panic though, because we’ll get into their poison in just a moment.
Is the dart frog dangerous?
When it comes to bright colored species, a lot of the time the more colorful they are the more dangerous their venom is. While this is true in the wild, when dart frogs are held in captivity they’re fairly harmless. This is due to the fact that they lose their harmful venom when they’re not eating the insects that provide it.
Now, with that being said, you should still never approach one if it’s in the wild. Their skin alone is poisonous, and in the wild, they possess enough poison to kill a human being 10 times over. So if you’re ever going for a stroll through the rain forest, please steer clear of them.
The dart frog is not a particularly violent frog, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t defend themselves during your first encounter. This is why it’s crucial that you treat them with care while they’re young, this way you never run into any issues down the line. Plus, the great thing about dart frogs is that they have a sleep cycle similar to your own, so you’ll be able to observe them throughout the day. It’s definitely important to understand that these frogs are going to be more of a hands-off type of pet.
The dart frog definitely sounds more dangerous than it is, and if you do find one through a trusted breeder or at a pet store, chances are it’s safe to own.
How many species are there?
The dart frog is a very popular amphibian due to the sheer amount of species variation. This means that you’ll find all different types of species, and each species has its own appeal. Each and every species will have its own unique color pattern, so you should always be aware of what you’re looking at. Luckily, when we get to the care section, it’s pretty universal when it comes to taking care of them.
There are so many different species, so we’ll just go ahead and list out some of the options for you along with their traits:
- The golden species (gold color)
- The dyeing poison dart frog (blue and black color)
- The mimic species
- The yellow-banded species of dart frog
- Various bicolor species (these really vary)
- The yellow stripe species (has a yellow stripe along with their blackish color)
- The read head species (they have a red head)
Keep in mind that this only a very small list, but hopefully, you’re starting to see how crazy some of the color patterns on these frogs can be.
When it comes to dart frogs, there are so many different species that it can seem overwhelming. Luckily, a lot of it comes down to their color, so you don’t need to worry about too many differences.
How to take care of a dart frog
Now that you about the dart frog, and the different types of species that you can find out there, it’s time to finally take a look at how to care for one. It’s not extremely difficult to take care of a dart frog, and while they can be beginner-friendly, there are certain exceptions to that rule. Therefore, you’ll definitely want to pay close attention here.
The first thing you need to know about is the proper enclosure for these frogs. Without the enclosure, you’ll have a little frog running around your home, and we’re more than sure you don’t want that. Luckily, with these dart frogs, you don’t need to go too crazy with the enclosure. Their small size makes them easy to care for, so all you’ll need is a tank that’s about 10 gallons (fish tank works fine)
Now, with that being said, there are some extra steps to take. Dart frogs like security, which is not being on display, so make sure that you cover at least one side of the tank up. Not only will this make your dart frog feel nice and secure, but it will also make their behavior a bit tamer.
Your enclosure should also come with plenty of amenities for your frog to relax with. These amenities include, but are not limited to:
- Branches for them to climb around on
- A substrate that’s nonorganic, this way it can stand up to the humid temperatures
- Terrarium rocks work very well as substrate
- Plenty of tropical plants and leaves
Please check our recommended products page for dart frog supplies and more!
Their temperature preference
When it comes to temperature, while they may live in a very warm area, that doesn’t mean that they like it all that hot. You’ll need to make sure that you keep the tank at about 70 degrees Fahrenheit because if it gets any hotter, you can actually risk harming them. If dart frogs are exposed to temperatures around 85 degrees for a prolonged period of time, you can end up with one dried out little frog.
Now, when it comes to heat, be careful with the lights. You’ll need to use some type of heat lamp to regulate the temperature, and any type of heat lamp will really do. Unlike most reptiles and amphibians, you’ll want to strictly manage this temperature, because you don’t want to cook them. A good rule of thumb to follow is that the tank will be about 5 degrees hotter than your room, so make sure you keep an eye on that tank.
Dart frogs are native to the rainforest, which means that they absolutely love humidity. Not only is it part of their lives, but it keeps them healthy and happy. Therefore, when you take care of one, you’ll need to simulate the rainforest to the best of your ability. In doing so, make sure that you keep the humidity levels around 90 percent. 80 or 100 percent will work as well, but 90 percent humidity is definitely a sweet spot of sorts for dart frogs.
What do they eat?
When it comes to feeding these frogs, well, it can be a slight hassle if you’re ready to deal with their needs. This is due to the fact that these frogs will strictly feast on live insects, which means you’ll need to feed them live specimens.
Some great recommendations are as follows:
While these are all viable options, we’ve noticed that fruit flies are going to be your best bet.
Now, when it comes to the frequency in which they need to be fed, this is where things get even trickier. Once your dart frog reaches maturity, you’ll need to make sure that you feed them at least 5 days a week. This will keep them happy, and if you want to hit the right amount, make sure you feed them around 50 fruit flies each time you feed them. This is due to the fact that they don’t gain many nutrients with a single fly, so making sure they have enough for the day is absolutely crucial.
What about water?
When it comes to frogs, they’re unique in that they absorb moisture through their skin. Now, when you look at the dart frog, they’re certainly no exception. Therefore, when it comes to providing them with water, it really comes down to humidity levels. Remember when we talked about the humidity before? Well, to be quite honest with you, this is exactly why.
Also, there is another factor that you should keep in mind. If you find that your dart frog is hiding quite often than chances are they don’t have enough water. So a great indicator of their hydration level is whether or not you see the frog often.
There is a lot to take into consideration when dealing with a dart frog. This is why they’re not recommended for beginners because it can be a lot to manage at first. Now, while there is a strict learning curve, it shouldn’t take you too long before you get everything in order.
Breeding is also an interesting topic for frogs because the ways in which they reproduce is so much different than the way we do things. Therefore, if you want to begin breeding these dart frogs, you’ll definitely want to pay very close attention to this section. It’s a complicated process, but we can definitely make things very simple for you.
How many dart frogs can you keep in the same tank?
Before you get down to the breeding process, you need to consider how many you can keep in the same tank. You don’t want to overdo it, because this can lead to accidental deaths and violence. Therefore, for the safety of your dart frogs, make sure that you don’t keep more than two males in a 10-gallon tank with one female. If you’ll be using a larger enclosure, you can feel free to double the number of dart frogs, but always make sure you monitor the enclosure to the best of your ability.
Setting the mood for breeding dart frogs
If you want dart frogs to breed, you need to set the mood. This is due to the fact that some of these frogs are seasonal, which means that they prefer to breed during the wet seasons within the rainforest. Therefore, if you want to set the mood, you need to emulate the wet season. This is not too difficult to mimic, but you’ll need to keep the humidity levels a bit over the normal amount that you’re used to in order to accomplish this.
Aside from setting the mood, you need to set up a location. Therefore, make sure that you leave a little outcove in your enclosure for the dart frogs to mate in. Dart frogs love their privacy, which means that you’ll want to make sure the area is heavily secluded with plenty of plant life.
Another key thing to be aware of is the health of your dart frogs. This is due to the fact that if they’re unhealthy, they won’t reproduce the way they should, so always make sure that they’re being fed the right amount. This is also why humidity levels are key because if they’re not hydrated you’ll also be in trouble.
Aside from health, you should also be aware of the fact that they don’t breed evenly. This means that you might end up with 8 females to 1 male, or even the other way around. So just make sure that you’re being mindful of that as well.
When it comes to breeding, tadpoles are going to be something you need to concern yourself with. This is due to the fact that tadpoles require a little bit of extra care when they’re young. Here are some things you should consider when it comes to tadpoles:
- They will grow in a position that is curled up when in the egg
- When the egg is ready to hatch, you’ll notice that the tadpole’s tail will become straight
- Once the eggs hatch, keep them in a small area (a petri dish is recommended)
- When it comes to their atmosphere, keep water that is not chlorinated, and also keep small tropical leaf fragments in the dish as well
When it comes to breeding dart frogs, there is a lot that’s involved. Luckily, once you know the basics, it shouldn’t be too difficult to end up caring for one. Just make sure you understand the difference in care between dart frogs and baby dart frog tadpoles.
There was a lot that we went over today, but at least you know the basics now. While there may be a bunch of different species, please keep in mind that care is pretty similar for each and every species variant. Dart frogs are definitely excellent little amphibians, but just make sure you’re careful when it comes to handling them.
We know that we threw a lot of information your way today, and we want to make sure that you take it all in, so please feel free to go back over any sections you need to. Plus, if you ever feel lost along the way, you can always feel free to refer back to this article as a guide if you need to.
Dart frogs can last you plenty of time, they make a great pet, but we do recommend that beginners shy away from taking care of younger dart frogs. While it’s easy to take care of some of the older ones, it can be quite a hassle to care for a younger one. So just make sure that you’re prepared for you to make the decision to find one.
Our last thought is that dart frogs are not always the easiest frogs to find. This is due to the fact that they’re a bit rarer, so don’t get discouraged, just make sure that you carry a degree of patience when it comes to searching for these dart frogs.
Now that you know all of the facts, hopefully, you can come to a decision about a dart frog and really encourage you to give them a look. They can make a beautiful pet and a pet that will be guaranteed to turn plenty of heads.