It is said that beauty means danger…isn’t it? This is true in the case of one of the most beautiful creatures of the tropical rain forest: The Poison Dart Frog (Oophaga pumilio)
This little tiny amphibians (not larger than a nail) are found on the floor of the forest, on the caribbean slopes of Costa Rica. You can easily find them if you follow their sharping noise, putting your hands right behind your ears. Suddenly, their bright colors (red and blue) display their position and…there it is! A letal weapon for most of the predators in the forest, with the exception, maybe, of the huge Bull Frog (Leptodactylus savage)
This froggies feed on ants and termites, they get the formic acid from their preys and turn it into a neurotoxin called pumiliotoxin, a substance wich is able to paralize the muscles and kill by sofocation or a heart attack.
The males on this species are highly territorial, they defend their territory (about 8 square feet) from other males. The defense of it asures the quantity of ants and termites they will eat, and, also, it has been reported that, the number of bromeliads (air plants) in that spot has some influence when they choose the territory. Both, male and female, will bring their tadpoles up to the ‘pool’ of water found in the bromeliad, where they will finish the metamorphosis.
Some indigenous groups in South America used to get the toxins from the skin of these frogs, in order to poison their arrow heads. This is why the common name given to the species. There is no problem for humans, any ways, as long as you keep your distance from them…
As a tour guide, I like to find them for the fellows in my tours. Many people get amazed about their size, and the potencial danger in such a small creature. This is one of the most interesting animals in the rain forest.
I hope you guys find this interesting.