Lehmann’s Poison Frog

(Oophaga lehmanni)




Facts about this animal

With its 31 to 36 mm Lehmann's poison frog is one of the larger dendrobatids. There are three color morphs of D. lehmanni; red, orange, and yellow against a black or bark brown background. The frog is mainly dark colored and is encircled by two brightly colored bands. One band is behind the head and the other is around the hump of the back. The brightly colored patterns are broken up irregularly by the dark. The arms and legs are also circled by the bright colors. The mating season for Lehmann's poison frog begins after the wet season. The males find a good place to store the eggs and then attract the female through a series of elaborate calls. When a female finds a male she deposits a few large eggs on leaves that are about 1.2 m above the forest floor in the area that he has selected. The male picks an area that is near water to insure that the eggs stay wet. After the eggs are laid the male will fertilize, protect, and keep them wet. He also periodically rotates the eggs to insure they receive enough oxygen. In about 2 to 4 weeks the tadpoles are carried on the backs of the females to bromeliads, where they develop. The females feed the tadpoles on unfertilised eggs.

Did you know?
The bright color pattern that these frogs have developed is called an aposematic coloration. It is supposed to warn possible predators that they are very poisonous. Some of the native tribes of Columbia coat their darts with the poison produced by the frogs. Named for the late Federico Carlos Lehmann Valencia, a Colombian conservation biologist and ornithologist. Founder of Museo de Ciencias Naturales in Santa Teresita de Cali, Colombia in 1963.


Name (Scientific) Oophaga lehmanni
Name (English) Lehmann’s Poison Frog
Name (French) Dendrobate de Lehmann
Name (German) Lehmanni Baumsteiger
Name (Spanish) Rana venenosa de Lehmann
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Gert Benaets



Range This species is known with certainty only from two localities in Colombia (Anchicaya Valley near Dagua, Alto del Oso near San José del Palmar).
Habitat Rain forests in an altitude of 450 – 1100 m. These frogs are usually found on the ground but sometimes also in low bushes and trees, perching on leaves up to 60cm above ground. They are not found in heavily degraded areas, but do occur in mature secondary forest.
Wild population It is a locally common species in its tiny range. The major threats are habitat loss and degradation, as a result of agricultural development, illegal crops, logging, and human settlement, and pollution, resulting from the spraying of illegal crops. D. lehmanni is also being caught and exported from its country of origin for use in the pet trade. However, these frogs are very delicate and only recommended for experienced caretakers. The population trend is decreasing (Red List IUCN 2012).
Zoo population 40 reported to ISIS (2007), all at Cali Zoo.

In the Zoo

Lehmann’s 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
Gert Benaets

Why do zoos keep this animal

The species is critically endangered in the wild. The main purpose for keeping Lehmann's popison frogs is, therefore, conservation breeding with the aim of building up and maintaining a viable ex situ insurance population. The zoos have also linked their ex situ activities with involvement in in situ conservation.