Poison dart frogs - colourful and unusual pets
You may be surprised to see one of these neon poison dart frogs in person. Their bright colors and bold patterns make them appear almost fake - as though those colors couldn't possibly be found naturally, on something living no less! Well, you can stop pinching yourself because these little beauties are for real. And poison dart frogs are gaining in popularity for a number of reasons.
Poison Dart Frogs In the Wild
Poison dart frogs are from Central and South American rainforests and can also be found on the Hawaiian islands. There are over 100 species of poison dart frogs that come in a handful of different brilliant colors.
Also known as poison arrow frogs, the secretions of a few specific species of poison dart frogs have been used to coat the arrows of natives in the jungles of South America. The species of poison dart frogs that are kept as pets are not dangerous to humans. The most poisonous frog,Phyllobates terribilis, can produce enough poison to kill 8 people though!
Rainforests are very high humidity places and insects roam about everywhere. They use their long tongues, much like chameleons do, to catch their prey. Trees and large leaves are plentiful to climb on in the rainforest and most predators avoid them due to their toxic skin.
Poison Dart Frogs as Pets
Once again, poison dart frogs are not poisonous to humans. Although they aren't exactly the kind of pet you can sit and hold, it would not hurt you to touch them. They are toxic to other animals who want to eat them but not people. Scientists believe the frogs get their poison from an insect or arthropod they eat in the wild.
These little frogs can get up to two and a half inches long and live up to fifteen years in captivity. They don't require a large enclosure but do need a warm and high humidity environment. They can be fed small gut-loaded crickets from the pet store (but there are other specific dietary requirements for dart frogs), are active during the day, and are low-maintenance pets!
Water for Poison Dart Frogs
A vivarium can have a pool of water, automatic misters, or just be manually misted with a hand mister to be kept humid. While automatic misters or a water feature are the easiest way to maintain a high percentage of humidity, daily misting of the vivarium with a plant mister is also very simple and inexpensive. Maintain a hygrometer reading of 60% or greater.
Be sure to let your tap water sit for 24 hours before using it with your frogs or purchase a de-chlorinator to instantly neutralize chlorine in your water.
Heat and Lighting for Poison Dart Frogs
While poison dart frogs do well without UVB lighting, studies have shown that UVB exposure increases social activity and breeding (as it does with other exotic pets). They do need a basic 12 hour light cycle that can be mimicked with a regular fish tank hood light or a UVB bulb. In a glass or plastic aquarium with a hood and light the temperature will most likely be above 70 degrees. If it isn't, use an undertank heater to maintain a temperature between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Depending on how many frogs you decide to keep (the more the merrier!) you may only need a 2.5 gallon aquarium or you may need a 10 gallon tank. Use moss and other plants native to the area your species of poison dart frogs are from to make them feel at home.
If you want a frog that is more arboreal choose a species such as ventrimaculatus, pumilio, or fantasticus. If you want frogs that are more terrestrial, consider auratus, azureus, leucomelas or tinctorius. Also keep in mind if you have arboreal frogs create a vivarium with many things to climb on. If you have terrestrial frogs, provide more ground space. Some people feel that different species from the same place in the wild can be put together, creating a rainbow of frog colors, while others have stated that different species are able to poison each other.
A poison dart frog vivarium is a great alternative to a fish aquarium and requires little maintenance. These frogs are clean, pretty quiet, and add a splash of color to your home!