Golden Poison Dart Frog (Phyllobates terribilis) - Wiki
Golden Poison Frog
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[Photo] Schrecklicher Blattsteiger (Phyllobates terribilis). Source www.Tierdoku.com Date 01/2006. Author Wilfried Berns http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benutzer:Wilfried_Berns
One of the largest of all poison dart frogs, Phyllobates terribilis is also the main source of poison hunting darts used by the Choco Ember?? people in Colombia's Rainforest.
Its alkaloid poison, batrachotoxin, prevents nerves from transmitting impulses, leaving the muscles in an inactive state of contraction. This can lead to heart failure or fibrillation. It also lasts long after the frog has left the area; chickens and dogs have died from contact with a paper towel on which a frog had walked. One wild adult terribilis (meaning, 'the terrible') has enough poison to kill up to 100 adult humans, or up to 20,000 mice. However, this poison is lost in captive-bred and raised frogs due to a lack of certain items in its diet, currently unknown, although new research has hinted that a beetle from the family Melyridae may be the key ingredient responsible for the frog's lethal poison.
An average P. terribilis contains about one milligram of poison, which is enough to kill 10,000 mice-perhaps enough to kill 10 to 20 humans if the poison reaches their bloodstreams. Some estimates are higher.
This extraordinarily lethal poison (a steroid alkaloid, called batrachotoxin) is very rare. Scientists have found this poison only among three poisonous frogs in Colombia and two poisonous birds in Papua New Guinea.
The yellow frog stores the poison in skin glands, as do most frogs. Due to their poison, frogs taste vile to predators; P. terribilis' poison kills whatever eats it, except for a snake, Liophis epinephelus. This snake is resistant to the frog's poison, but not immune.
The poisonous frogs are perhaps the only creatures immune to this poison. The poison attacks the sodium channels of the cells. Through the ages, the clever frog has evolved special sodium channels that the poison can not harm.
Frogs normally have no occasion to eat their own poison, but this frog is different. The frog apparently eats the same poison as his own but produced by some other creature. He eats the unknown creatures as standard food. Frogs grown in captivity, however, can't eat the same food and they are not poisonous.
Thus, the high toxicity of P. terribilis appears due to consumption of a small insect or other arthropod, which may truly be the most poisonous creature on Earth.
Scientists have determined the mysterious insect probably is a small beetle from the family Melyridae. The beetle produces the same toxin found in P. terribilis. The beetle family Melyridae is cosmopolitan. Its relatives in Colombian rain forests could be the source of the batrachotoxins found in the highly toxic Phyllobates frogs of that region.
Phyllobates terribilis occurs in different color morphs around the area. Orange, mint green, and yellow frogs are frequently seen.
This morph exists in the La Brea area of Colombia and is the most common form seen in capitivy. The name "mint green" is actually rather misleading as the frogs of this morph can be metallic green, pale green, or white.
The yellow morph of Phyllobates terribilis is the reason it has the common name, Golden poison dart frog. Yellow terribilis are found in Quebrada Guangui, Colombia, and Guyana. These frogs can be pale yellow to a deep, golden yellow color. A frog sold under the name "Gold terribilis" was once believed to be a deeper yellow terribilis. However, genetic tests have proven these frogs to be a uniform colored morph of phyllobates bicolor.
While not as common as the other two morphs, orange terribilis exist in Colombia as well. They tend to be a metallic orange color or yellow-orange with varying intensity.
Like the other poison dart frogs, Phyllobates terribilis is harmless when raised away from its natural food source. They are a popular rainforest vivarium subject and are somewhat easier to feed than some dart frogs. Larger species of fruit flies, small crickets, waxworms, small mealworms, termites, and phoenix worms can be used if supplemented with calcium and other minerals. The temperature should be in the low to mid 20s (°C). They are sensitive to high heat and suffer from a condition called wasting syndrome if overheated for too long. They require high humidity as they come from one of the world's most humid rainforests. P. terribilis is not as territorial as most dart frogs and can successfully be kept in groups. However, they require a slightly larger enclosure due to their adult size, similar to the enclosure size used for Dendrobates tinctorius. Occasional disputes may occur, but injuries are rare, and death is never the result of such conflicts.
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