Breeding Poison Dart Frogs For Captivity

Poison dart frogs are readily available as captive bred animals, reflecting the fact that captive breeding is not overly difficult. Adults are often very territorial so it is best not to overcrowd the animals. Two to five animals will make a suitable size breeding colony. Most frogs will be sexually mature at around fifteen months of age and many species will to some extent be sexually dimorphic at this age. Males tend to be somewhat more slender and have pads on the front toes.

Make sure your frogs are in optimum condition before attempting to breed from them. Increasing humidity, such as regular misting with luke-warm water can trigger many species to breed. Make sure the terrarium requirements match the needs of your frogs for breeding. Some species lay their eggs in bromeliad funnels, whereas others will lay eggs in streams or pools of water.

I find covering a petri-dish filled with water with a coconut husks works well with some species. A small hole cut in the top of the husk will provide access and should be just large enough to allow the frogs to pass through. A leaf should be placed in the dish and will be used for depositation of the eggs. A cheap and easy alternative to a coconut husk is to cut the bottom off a soft drink bottle and cut a small access hole, but do ensure that there are no sharp edges.

Once the adults have become used to the nesting site the male will lead the female inside where mating will take place. Disturb the frogs as little as possible during the mating period. Up to fifteen eggs will be laid, hopefully on the leaf provided.

If the eggs are left in situ the parents will tend them but most keepers remove the eggs for incubation. The incubation temperature is actually the same as the adult poison dart frogs are maintained at so leaving them in situ is not necessarily a problem. The main problem associated with eggs is fungus. This can largely be avoided by regular checking and removal of infertile eggs as the “go off”. All things being well, the tadpoles should hatch in about fifteen days.

Most Phyllobates and Dendrobates species can be raised on fish flakes and defrosted gnat and mosquito larvae. Tadpoles can be reared in shallow aquaria with adequate filtration and suitable plants, but be aware of cannibalism.

After about twenty-five days, the hind-legs should start to develop and at around forty days the color and pattern will begin to show. At around fifty days, the front legs will appear and the tail will start to be absorbed. Once metamorphosis starts to take place the froglets should be segregated from the tadpoles. A tank, or plastic container, with a gentle slope, facilitating a wet and dry area makes the most suitable habitat for the juvenile frogs. At this stage cannibalism is no longer a problem and the young can be raised together. Froglets can be reared on springtails, fruit-flies and micro-crickets.

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