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            September 20, 2006

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Click photo for larger version! Golden Frog, or Poison dart frog
Photo by Peter Singfield, Xaibe Village
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This is a close up of my resident (in the kitchen) tree frog.

Now -- if I dipped a pellet in the fluid that runs our from those poors when these frogs get excited --- that becomes a very lethal pellet gun indeed.

"When a wild animal is shot with a poison-tipped dart, it will die within minutes from the neurotoxin, making additional shots unnecessary to kill it. Poison darts made from either fresh or fermented batrachotoxin are enough to drop monkeys and birds in their tracks since nerve paralysis is almost instantaneous"

I have a few different species hanging out in my bath house --- as well, but this one in my kitchen is the infamous "Golden Frog" -- read more about this below.

"Even a very small amount of the batrachotoxin found in the skins of the Golden Poison Dart Frog and at least two other species of Phyllobates frogs - on the order of just 40 micrograms - can be fatal" So - next time you come visit -- stop worrying about the snakes so much -- worry about the leetle frogs!!


Poison dart frog

The poison dart frog, poison arrow frog, dart frog or poison frog, is the common name given to the group of frogs belonging to the family Dendrobatidae. Poison dart frogs are native to two geographical regions: Central America and South America. The Green and Black Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates auratus) has been introduced to a few Hawaiian islands. (Note: Poison frogs are widely called poison arrow frogs or poison dart frogs, reflecting the widespread notion that the frogs are used by indigenous South American tribes in the manufacture of poison that is spread on arrows or blow-gun darts. Since most of the species are not used for this purpose, many experts prefer that poison frog is used for the group's common name.)

Poison dart frogs are a group of small, diurnal, and often brightly colored frogs native to Central and South America. These frogs received their common name from the numerous types of poisonous alkaloids found in the skin of many species. The most poisonous dart frog is the Golden Poison Dart Frog (Phyllobates terribilis).

Poison dart frogs are popularly characterized by their brightly colored skin and small size. The skin color can range from bright orange and black to blue or yellow. However, members of the most species-rich genus, Colostethus, are generally brown. Poison dart frogs range in size from 1 centimetre (0.2 in) to 6 centimetres (2.5 in) in length, depending on the age and species of the frog.

Toxicity

According to amphibian expert William Duellman, there are about 220 species of poison frogs. Most species are not toxic to animals and humans. More than 100 toxins have been identified in the skin secretions of poison dart frogs, especially Dendrobates and Phyllobates. Members of the genus Dendrobates (of which there are at least 44 known species) are also known as "poison dart" or "poison arrow" frogs. However, only frogs of the genus Phyllobates produce the extremely potent neurotoxin, batrachotoxin, and its derivatives. Even a very small amount of the batrachotoxin found in the skins of the Golden Poison Dart Frog and at least two other species of Phyllobates frogs - on the order of just 40 micrograms - can be fatal. For the Golden Poison Dart Frog, merely touching the frog's back with the tip of the tongue could be enough to transfer a lethal dose of poison (which is most readily absorbed via mucous membranes).

Certain tribes in South America, such as the Noanamá Chocó and Emberá Chocó indians of western Colombia, dip the tips of their blowgun darts in the poison found on the skin of three species of Phyllobates. In north Chocó, Phyllobates aurotaenia is used while to the south, in the departments of Risaralda and Choco, P. bicolor is used. In Cauca, even southern Cauca, P. terribilis is used for dart making. (Despite sometimes being called "poison arrow frogs" no examples are known of arrows, as opposed to darts, being poisoned with Phyllobates poison). No other species are used for this purpose. The poison is generally collected by roasting the frogs over a fire, but the toxins in P. terribilis are so strong that it is sufficient to dip the dart in the back of the frog without killing it.

When a wild animal is shot with a poison-tipped dart, it will die within minutes from the neurotoxin, making additional shots unnecessary to kill it. Poison darts made from either fresh or fermented batrachotoxin are enough to drop monkeys and birds in their tracks since nerve paralysis is almost instantaneous.

There is considerable evidence that toxicity in these frogs is derived from their diet: primarily ants, mites, and beetles. These toxins are passed from the arthropod to the frog, then sequestered in glands on the amphibian's skin. Frogs brought from the wild into captivity and fed a regular captive diet, usually fruit flies or pin-head (hatchling) crickets, eventually lose their toxicity.

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