Dendrobates galactonotus morphs

These frogs are relative new comers to the dart frog hobby. They first appeared in the US in the late 90's. This frog is generally considered to belong to the tinctorius “group”, along with D. auratus, and a few other frogs. While there is not a great deal of information available about their habitat and natural history, we do know they come from areas of Brazil south of the Amazon. Habitat is lowland rainforest. The over all range of these frogs is very large, and many different forms seem to exist. In this country there are several forms, all of which are fairly similar, with the main differences being the shade of color, and the amount of color on the frogs body and legs.

As a Brazilian frog, it is pretty clear that the founders of our captive specimens were brought to Europe illegally, since the government of Brazil does not allow any dart frogs to be exported, and has not in recent memory. (The typical path of many frogs in the US hobby started with a trip to Europe, often illegally. In Europe export papers could be obtained, that allowed the frogs to travel to the US legally.) However by now many shipments of these frogs have arrived in the US from Europe with “legal” paperwork, and there should be no danger to hobbyists who wish to own these frogs.

The first D. galactonotus to show up in the US hobby were the so called red “wedge” form, which I don't see anymore. This form is quite a bit smaller, with just a narrow wedge of reddish orange color on the back, and very shy. The red was more of a terra cotta type color, and there was so little of it that with their black legs and flanks, the frogs seemed to disappear. Of course their shyness didn't help this either! I no longer see this form being offered for sale.

I now work with several forms of this frog, and consider them to be great terrarium subjects. I find them difficult to sex, especially before they begin actually breeding, and have found that while they will fight and squabble amongst them selves if kept in groups, they also seem to breed better in groups. After a while the group will usually settle into a pecking order, and it's a good idea to watch newly setup groups for fighting and remove any specimens that seem to be getting the short end of things.

My first experience breeding this frog is pretty typical, so I will relate it here. I got four orange form frogs from a friend, which were part of a recent importation of about fifty frogs that had come into the US with captive bred paper work from Europe. The frogs were adults, and according to my friend who picked through the whole shipment, they appeared to be wild caught frogs. He thought they were two pairs, but couldn't be sure. I looked at them when I got them in, and I certainly couldn't tell which of them were which sex for sure, so I set them up together in a tank. They settled in well, and within a short time they began breeding for me. However the clutches were always disturbed, by the time I found them, and only two or three eggs from each clutch were any good. I figured that the frogs were fighting and disturbing each others eggs, and started watching them to figure out what sex they were. One day I caught a pair courting, and removed them to their own tank. Within a week, they had laid a nice clutch of about 8 eggs, and so had the other pair. I was pleased with this, and watched eagerly for more eggs. After about six months of fruitless waiting, I gave up and put the four frogs back in a larger tank, and promptly got eggs out of the tank. The group continued to lay, and in fact some of them are still breeding here now. My guess would be that the two frogs were simply not that interested in breeding without tank mates to stir things up.

One other observation about this group of frogs is that a few years ago, there seemed to be a lot of froglets produced with a condition called short femur syndrome. In this syndrome the back legs are misshapen, with the thigh being shortened. It is not always easy to pick out when casually observing a frog, and many of the captive bred specimens that I saw that came in from Europe had it. I don't see it much any more, and have had no trouble producing normal frogs here, using the same tadpole husbandry as we use with any other dart frog. It does not seem that this syndrome is genetic, rather I suspect it has to do with some deficiency in the diet of the tadpole.

Listed below are the Poison Dart Frogs that are regularly available.