Cute, yes, but also terribilis…

Golden poiston frog (Dendrobates terribilis)

Golden poison frog (Dendrobates terribilis)

Cute Frog of the Week: December 20, 2010

You might be tempted to pick up this little cutie, but don’t! The Latin name for the golden poison frog seems fitting—Phyllobates terribilis. The golden poison frog is the most poisonous of all poison dart frogs. Its golden skin, while pretty, is a warning sign to predators to stay away from its poisonous skin. Just how poisonous are these frogs, which are between an inch to 2 and a half inches long? Each poison golden frog has about 200 micrograms of poison in its body, and it takes just two micrograms to kill a human! In fact, Amerindian tribes have used the frog’s poison for their darts. Though deadly, researchers are currently exploring the use of the poisons for medications.

But don’t worry if you visit one at a Zoo! These frogs get their toxicity through the insects that they eat in the wild—and the insects get their toxicity from plants—so they are not toxic in captivity, where they are fed a different diet.

Photo credit: Brian Gratwicke, Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project.

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