Strawberry Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates pumilio) - Wiki
Strawberry Poison-dart Frog
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[Photo] "Blue Jeans" poison dart frog, Oophaga pumilio. Dendrobates pumilio (dart poison frog) from Costa Rica, Central America. By Pstevendactylus
The Strawberry Poison-dart frog, Oophaga pumilio is a type of poison dart frog found in Central America, with a high concentration within the nation of Costa Rica.
Oophaga pumilio is a species that exhibits a great deal of variation, comprising well over thirty different true-breeding color morphs. Aside from the obvious differences in coloring, morphs differ in habitat usage, size, vocalization, and degree of parental care. The "blue jeans" morph is the morph most popular among frog hobbyists and is generally depicted in most merchandise displaying O. pumilio. Most morphs of O. pumilio average between 18-20mm as adults.
The bright, aposematic warning colors displayed by O. pumilio are indicative of the presence of various toxins present in the frog's skin. These chemicals likely give the frog a bad taste, limiting predation. Oophaga pumilio does not possess any chemical capable of seriously harming humans, though a field worker described intense burning and mild swelling after getting skin secretions into a cut on his arm.
O. pumilio belongs to the Oophaga pumilio group, which consists of O. granuliferus, O. speciosus, and O. vicentei. The pumilio group is in turn closely related to the O. histrionicus group, which consists of O. histrionicus and O. duellmani. Collectively, this is referred to as the egg feeder group, due to their methods of parental care.
The Oophaga genus and the placement of this species into that genus is based on a study published in August, 2006 (Grant et al, 2006). Prior to that study, O. pumilio was classified as Dendrobates pumilio, and this previous classification is still the one most commonly used.
Reproduction and Parental Care
Oophaga pumilio and related frogs are notable in the amphibian world for exhibiting a high degree of parental care. After mating, the female will lay an average of three to five eggs on a leaf or bromeliad axil. The male will then ensure that the eggs are kept hydrated by transporting water in his cloaca. After about ten days, the eggs hatch and the female transports the tadpoles on her back to some water-retaining location. In captivity, on rare occasions the male is observed transporting the tadpoles, though whether this is intentional, or the tadpoles simply hitch a ride, is unknown. Bromeliad axils are frequently used tadpole deposition sites, but anything suitable can be used, such as knots in trees, small puddles, or human trash such as aluminum cans.
Tadpoles are deposited singly at each location, as they are cannibalistic. Once this has been done, the female will come to each tadpole every few days and deposit several unfertilized food eggs. In captivity, tadpoles have been raised on a variety of diets, ranging from algae to the eggs of other dart frogs, but with minimal success. Because of this, O. pumilio group frogs are considered obligiate egg feeders, as they are unable to accept any other form of nutrition.
After about a month, the tadpole will metamorph into a small froglet. Generally, they stay near their water source for a few days for protection as they absorb the rest of their tail.
Oophaga pumilio in Captivity
Oophaga pumilio is a popular frog in captivity, due to its striking colors and unique life cycle. They have been imported in vast quantities to the United States and Europe since the early 1990s, when they would typically be available for around $30 US each. However, these shipments have since stopped, and O. pumilio is much less common and available in reduced diversity. In Europe, O. pumilio is much more diverse and available due to an increased frequency of smuggling and the resulting offspring of smuggled animals. Smuggling of dart frogs is less common elsewhere, but still problematic as it kills large numbers of animals and frequently degrades or destroys viable habitat.
Recently, O. pumilio has been exported from Central America again in small numbers from frog farms. Because of this, pumilio have seen a huge increase in numbers in the dart frog community and is regularly available.
Bastimentos pumilio or "Bastis" have recently been arriving in the United States as imports from frog farms. Bastis typically come in three morphs, being either red, yellow, or white, with black spots on the back and legs. They are all found together on Isla Bastimentos, and have been reported to be true breeding to a certain degree, despite the ease of mixing with the other varieties.
The blue jeans morph of O. pumilio is relatively rare in the United States. Most of these animals came from the original imports during the 1990s, or are descendant from these animals. The blue jeans morph has a red body with bright blue legs and arms. One major problem with these frogs is that they typically have very poor success in caring for their tadpoles in captivity. A number of factors have been suggested, varying from care to diet, but difficulties in breed blue jeans persist. Relatively recently, frogger Robb Melancon has developed a method of switching the tadpoles of more common pumilio morphs, such as Man Creek or Bastimentos, with blue jeans tadpoles (the Basti or Man Creek tadpole would be raised artificially on chicken whites, denucleated pumilio eggs destined to go bad collected from tanks, or denucleated D. auratus eggs). He reported a great deal of success when the blue jeans tadpoles were reared by their surrogate parents vs. leaving the blue jeans parents to do the raising.
Blue jeans are typically found in Costa Rica, and are very abundant, often thriving in disturbed areas if given a chance to acclimate.
Chiriqui Grande/Chiriqui River
The Chiriqui morph is another frog that has seen recent importation to the United States. This frog is typically green in coloration, with some exhibiting a red coloration. Sometimes, these frogs have blue-green legs and yellow bellies. The Chiriqui River/Grande frogs closely resemble the Cayo de Aqua and Pope Island morphs, but are reported to be collected near either Chiriqui River or Chiriqui Grande. At this time, it is difficult to determine which name is more correct since locality data is unavailable, and they are sometimes incorrectly referred to only as 'Chiriqui'.
The Man Creek pumilio is another frog that has seen recent importation. They look very similar to the blue jeans and are often confused. Both frogs are usually red with blue legs. However, Man Creeks typically have gray legs and arms, and it is not uncommon for them to lack gray entirely on the front limbs. Some Man Creeks do exhibit bluish arms and legs, however, they're typically easy to distinguish to the trained eye.
Man Creeks are often referred to as "Almirante," as they closely resemble the Almirante morph. However, some reports place their collection locale closer to the Man Creek area, and this name is considered more correct at this time. Unfortunately, due to the methods of collection by the frog farms, locality data is missing on this morph, resulting in a great deal of confusion and frustration within the hobby.
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