Green Poison Frog

(Dendrobates auratus)




Facts about this animal

There is great geographic variation in the appearance of this species; over 15 distinct colour morphs of wild D. auratus have been recorded. Most of them are black and either green or light blue, with the black in bands or spots. The adults are approximately 4 cm long. Another physical characteristic of D. auratus is the poison glands located throughout the surface of their body.


The mating season of D. auratus occurs throughout the entire rainy season, from mid-July through mid-September. Males are essentially non-territorial, but occasionally engage in aggressive competition. Males call to attract females. The species is polygynous; females actively compete for males and attempt to guard their mate from others.


The species shows a high degree of paternal care. After oviposition upon leaf litter the male guards and cares for the clutch of three to 13 eggs. On hatching (13 to 16 days in captivity) the tadpoles are carried by the male to a stagnant water body in a tree-hole, the leaf axil of a bromeliad (up to 30m from the forest floor), or a small ground pool.


For the duration of this trip, the tadpoles are attached to the males back by a mucus secretion, which is soluble only in water so that there is no chance of them accidentally falling off. Different males will deposit tadpoles in the same tree cavity Wild tadpoles feed on protozoans and rotifers, and metamorphose after 39 to 89 days; in captivity, sexual maturity is attained at between six and 15 months. Longevity of at least six years reported in captivity. D.auratus feed mostly on spiders and small insects such as ants and termites which they find on the floor of the forest.

Did you know?
that the poison frogs' bright colours are believed to encourage predators with color vision to avoid the frogs? Dendrobates auratus have long been used by local peoples to provide poison for their weapons.


Name (Scientific) Dendrobates auratus
Name (English) Green Poison Frog
Name (French) Dendrobate doré
Name (German) Goldbaumsteiger
Name (Spanish) Rana de flecha verde y negra
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
© Samuel Furrer, Zoo Zurich, Switzerland



Range Colombia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama; introduced: USA (Hawaii)
Habitat It is an arboreal and terrestrial diurnal species of humid lowland and submontane forest (up to 800 m). It is also found in dense secondary growth and cocoa plantations. It prefers locations near small streams or pools.
Wild population This is an abundant species that is often seen and regularly recorded throughout its range. Only the blue morph of D. auratus present on the Pacific side of Panama is believed to be threatened with extinction. There is a general loss of suitably wooded areas and collection for the international pet trade. Owing to the apparently low fecundity of this species, the possibility exists that over harvesting, especially in the more rare morphs, may contribute to localised population declines. The current impact of chytrid fungi on D. auratus is not known.
Zoo population According to ISIS there is a zoo population of about 2266 (2009); but this species is also frequently kept as a pet.

In the Zoo

Green Poison Frog


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 45 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
© Peter Dollinger, Switzerland

Why do zoos keep this animal

Neotropical frogs are threatened by habitat distruction, disease and other factors. Zoos and aquariums keeping these species want to build up reserve populations and to raise awareness of the global amphibian crisis. Several zoos have also linked their ex situ activities with involvement in in situ conservation.