Giant Orange and Regina ID Sheet

General Information

If you are familiar with D. tinctorius, you know that there seem to be many different forms of this frog, practically an endless supply of variation. One large population of frogs seems to have been isolated into pockets of geographically isolated populations, and the frogs which inhabit these “rainforest islands” have diverged into a wide variety of different appearing frogs, most likely on their way to becoming new species.

These different forms are called morphs, and are given a variety of names in the US and European hobby. Sometimes these names are based on the frogs appearance, sometimes on the place name they are associated with, and sometimes on something like an individuals name. The true location of the habitat of these morphs is often lost in the transaction that takes place between the native people who collect them, and the business men who bring these frogs to the port of origin in the exporting country. In many cases, the information is intentionally with held to prevent others from collecting the frogs

This results in considerable confusion regarding what frogs are what form. In some cases the same frogs may have more than one “morph” name, due to their having been named by different people in different times and places. In other cases I believe that frogs from the same locality are diverse enough to be named two different morphs, even though in nature they probably coexist and interbreed.

The “Giant Orange” morph of D. tinctorius is, along with the French Guiana Dwarf cobalt, and the yellow back form, one of the original forms of tinctorius to be kept in the hobby, first in Europe and then in the United States in the late eighties and early nineties. However it has never been a common frog, and remains fairly rare today. When I first became aware of the “Regina” morph, I was told it was a very similar morph of tinctorius to the Giant Orange, but with more yellow on it. In fact at one point I was told by more than one knowledgeable individual that a Regina was just a Giant Orange with a lot of yellow!

This is one of those cases where there is plenty of confusion regarding the true meaning of these two names. The two frogs seem to come from the same area, around the town of Regina in eastern French Guiana, but specific locality data seems not to exist. I believe that the following will help to point out the differences in the frogs most often labeled Giant Orange and Regina in this country, but there are probably other very similar morphs which exist in the wild, and in collections in Europe, which may not fall into these categorizations. In fact all I can be sure of is that the differences I describe below are what distinguishes the Giant Orange in my collection from the Regina in my collection!

Giant Orange

The Giant Orange form is a medium size to large dart frog. They are generally larger than the Brazil Yellowhead Cobalt morph, but smaller than the very large Surinam forms of D. tinctorius such as the Powderblue or Cobalt. There are three colors on the body, black, yellow and a powder blue to dark blue. The back is generally characterized by a large patch of black, just behind the yellow cap on the head. The black patch on the back is typically bordered by the yellow stripes going down the outer edge of the back. These yellow pinstripes usually join together at the base of the back, and form a single line which runs to the vent area. The flanks are black and yellow, usually around half and half, with a large patch of black between the yellow stripe on the back and the patch of yellow on the lower flank

The hind legs are dressed in yellow socks, but with lots of powder blue to cobalt blue reticulations from the upper thigh to the lower leg. Where the legs join the body the body is black, part of the black patch generally found on the upper flank.


The Regina form is characterized by lots of yellow. Depending on the specimen, this is usually the first thing you notice as a difference between the two forms. This is a slightly larger form than the Giant Orange, and even seems to have a different body shape to some extent, being more similar to the very large Surinam tinctorius in size and body shape.

Once again there are three colors involved on this frog, yellow black and blue. The body is generally about eighty percent yellow, as opposed to the Giant Orange with more like forty percent. The Regina's back pattern is usually made up of a much smaller black area, with the yellow that surrounds it generally running from the back down onto the flanks, making a wider yellow area. In some cases almost the entire back is yellow, as well as most of the flanks.

The back legs are usually similar to Giant Oranges, but with more yellow. The upper legs are usually covered in a faint blue reticulation, which, as in Giant Orange, extends to the ventral area around the cloaca.

The front legs are usually solid yellow, except the portion closest to the body, or the inside of the front legs, which are black.

How to tell them apart!

In my collection, I noticed that besides the rather general differences I note above, there were a couple of clear distinguishing characteristics. The first is that all of my Giant Orange had spots of black on the front legs, which break up the yellow on the outer legs. On the other hand, all of my Regina's have a solid yellow outer front leg. Perhaps one out of my group of about fifteen adult Regina have a single small spot of black, on one front leg, the rest are solid yellow. The second is that the Regina have a yellow coverage of the belly of about 90%, compared to about 25 to 40% in the Giant Oranges.

My Giant Orange came from Sean Stewart, My Regina came from Europe, about five years ago. My original pair was a wild caught female, and a F1 unrelated male. There do not seem to be a lot of different bloodlines in this country, of either frog form. Please feel free to send me photos of frogs and discussion of this issue, I am in no way trying to create a standard for these frogs, but just hoping to clear up some confusion on this issue!