Blue Poison Frog

(Dendrobates azureus)




Facts about this animal

Dendrobates azureus with a length of 3 to 4,5 cm has bright blue-black arms and legs, paler, almost sky-blue and nearly unmarked sides, and a head and back covered with both large and small round black spots. The underside is pale blue with round black spots, especially on the breast, and sometimes with a darker midbelly stripe. D.azureus is a diurnal, solitary animal. It breeds seasonally in the wild, usually during the rainy season (February and March). Mating behavior starts with the male calling from his position in tree leaves or on the ground. The female is attracted by his calls and after the courtship ritual the male then leads the female to his chosen spot, where a clutch of 2-6 eggs is laid, and attended to, in most cases, by the male, but also sometimes by the female (moisten and clean the place where the eggs have been be laid). The eggs hatch within 14 to 18 days, and the tadpoles are carried to water pools within bromeliad or other plant leaf axils or crevices by both the female and the male. Often, the tadpoles are placed in separate pools as they are cannibalistic. After this transport, the male's care of the young ends. The female, however, frequently visits the tadpoles to lay unfertilized eggs providing them with food. The tadpole metamorphoses into an adult in 10 to 12 weeks Dendrobates azureus is an insectivore, but also eats non-insect arthropods as well. Its diet consists mainly of ants, beetles, flies, mites, spiders, termites, maggots, and caterpillars.

Did you know?
that the very conspicuous colouration serves as a warning to would-be predators of its poisonous properties. Its skin is covered with a myriad of glands that secrete alkaloid poisons capable of paralyzing, even killing predators. In fact, this frog contains on average about 200 micrograms of poison and only 2 of which is necessary to prove fatal to a human. The pattern of spots is unique to each frog and thus serves as a "fingerprint" to differentiate between individuals. Interestingly, the toxic compounds in the skin of D. azureus (lipophilic alkaloids) are found in high percentages within its prey, especially in ants. Thus, upon eating prey, the compounds are absorbed into the skin of the frog providing it with a defense mechanism. In captivity, this species loses its poisonous properties due to the lack of toxic compounds within the food it is fed.In this species females locate the male, attracted by its calls. Once found, females fight aggressively over the male. Afterwards, the victorious female begins the courtship ritual by gently stroking his snout and dorsal surface with her forelegs. Courtship may also involve chasing and wrestling between the male and female.The lifespan of D. azureus is about 4-6 years in the wild. In captivity it is known to live on average about 10 years, and can survive for up to 12 years.


Name (Scientific) Dendrobates azureus
Name (English) Blue Poison Frog
Name (French) Dendrobate bleu
Name (German) Blauer Baumsteiger
Name (Spanish) Rana flecha azul
Local names Okopipi
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
© Valerie Abbott



Range Suriname ("forest-islands" of the Sipaliwini-savanna), possibly Brazil
Habitat In humid forests, which are relatively cool, with temperatures dropping to 22-27 degrees C at night, always with rocky streams of running water, at elevations from 315 to 430 m. D. azureus is found under cover, such as rocks and moss, near streams. It usually stays on the ground, but is also found at heights up to 5 m in trees.
Wild population Threatened by its small range and by illegal collecting for the pet trade as well as by the destruction of rainforest habitat by fires and by humans for farmland. In fact D. azureus has become one of the most threatened of all the poison dart frogs in the neotropics. In recent years however the species is increasingly bred in captivity and demand can be met to a substantial extent by captive-bred specimens.
Zoo population 1131 specimens reported to ISIS (2007).

In the Zoo

Blue 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
© Valerie Abbott

Why do zoos keep this animal

Much is currently being done to conserve the species. Ex situ breeding programmes have sprung up in zoos and among private enthusiasts across the United States and Europe in attempts to conserve this rare species, while scientists, in hopes of obtaining a better understanding of these frogs, have conducted research expeditions in Suriname. For instance, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, in conjunction with the Suriname Forest Service, Conservation International Suriname, and the National Aquarium in Baltimore, has created a captive breeding program with the hopes of increasing D. azureus numbers. The National Aquarium in Baltimore was actually the first institution in the United States to breed D. azureus and has continued doing so ever since. In Jersey, Durrell Wildlife has successfully bred this species since 1995 and has also distributed these frogs to other zoos around the world. Other efforts are being made to reintroduce these frogs into native areas where they have been completely decimated and to educate those individuals who collect the frogs to help ensure the survival of the species.