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5 Cool Facts about Poison Dart Frogs

Learn five cool facts about poison dart frogs from reptile and amphibian expert Jungle Bob in this Howcast video.


The jewels of the Central and South America rain forest certainly are the Poison Dart or Poison Arrow frogs. These frogs are beautifully colored, as you can see. They get their name, of course, from the natives that inhabit these areas use them in hunting.

What they do is catch an adult frog they would rub the tip of the arrow or the tip of the poison dart they are using on the frogs back. They have to agitate the frog a little bit in order to get the frog to secrete the toxic poisons that naturally come out of their skin.

That poison would then be dried onto the arrow or the dart and they use that to catch things way high in the canopy where without these frogs assisting them they would never be able to get their food. It's very difficult for anybody that lives in the rain forest to catch something. The trees are 80 to 100 feet high. So, the poison dart frogs are animals that mankind uses almost as a tool to live in a very inhospitable area.

They get the poison, however it's not a natural thing that comes out of their back. We've learned over the years that the frogs acquire this poison through a series of events. A small ant would eat the root of a plant, that ant would get eaten by another insect, and the frog would eat that insect and the toxins are passed on, possibly from the plant itself all the way through into the frogs body and therefore out of it's skin. That's how they make that poison.

There's probably 100 different Poison Dart, Poison Arrow frogs out there, but only very few of them are that toxic to humans. One in particular comes from Columbia is called the terribilis frog. It's poison is so potent that just touching it, it could permeate your skin and cause death.

These animals are highly sought-after by the Indians there who know enough to grab a leaf and wrap it around the frog to hold on to it. Sometimes they put them over a flame to get the frog incensed, and he produces the poison. They'll use that poison, but they always thank the frog for using the poison, and they let him go and release him back into the forest.

No frogs are hurt in the making of that film. It's very, very important. People of the forest have a way of understanding that, rather then destroying the animal, they use them to their advantage.

So, Poison Dart frogs have a great relationship with the people of the forest in Central and South America. They are indeed the jewels. Look at these fantastic colors. This is just a small variety we have in front of us.

Poison Dart, Poison Arrow frogs. You can't make this stuff up.

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