Edinburgh Zoo. 28~12~2011
Poison Dart Frog
Most species of poison dart frogs are small, sometimes less than 1.5 centimetres (0.59 in) in adult length, although a few grow up to 6 centimetres (2.4 in) in length. They weigh about 2 grams, depending on the size of the frog. Most poison dart frogs are brightly colored, displaying aposematic patterns to warn potential predators. Their bright coloration is associated with their toxicity and levels of alkaloids. Frogs like the ones of Dendrobates species have high levels of alkaloids, whereas the Colostethus species are cryptically colored and are nontoxic. When born and raised in captivity, poison frogs do not produce the skin toxins which they attain in their native habitats.
Poison dart frogs are an example of an aposematic organism. Their bright coloration advertises unpalatability to potential predators. Aposematism is currently thought to have originated at least four times within the poison dart family according to phylogenetic trees, and dendrobatid frogs have since undergone dramatic divergences- both interspecific and intraspecific- in their aposematic coloration. This is surprising given the frequency-dependent nature of this type of defense mechanism.
Adult frogs lay their eggs in moist places, including on leaves, in plants, among exposed roots, and elsewhere. Once the eggs hatch, the adult piggybacks the tadpoles, one at a time, to suitable water, either a pool, or the water gathered in the throat of bromeliads or other plants. The tadpoles remain there until they metamorphose, fed by unfertilised eggs laid at regular intervals by the mother.