Poison Frogs: How Dangerous?

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Poison Frogs: How Dangerous?

Wild poison frogs are poisonous due to the insects they eat.

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I’m thinking of setting up a living vivarium with poison frogs, but was curious exactly how dangerous they are to keep. I know native people in their home range use the frogs’ skin toxins to coat darts, so is it really OK to keep these frogs at pets?
Annie Kauffman



strawberry poison frog



Wild poison frogs, such as this strawberry poison-dart frog (Oophaga pumilio), are poisonous due to the insects they eat.

While indigenous tribes in Colombia use toxic skin secretions from poison frogs (particularly the golden poison frog) to coat blow darts they use in hunting, the captive-bred frogs that are available in the pet hobby have lost their toxicity and are safe to keep. The poison the wild frogs secrete is due to the insects they eat in the wild. Because captive-bred frogs don’t eat the same insects as their wild counterparts, they are non-toxic.

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That said, poison frogs should not be handled anyway. These delicate creatures are best kept as display animals inside a beautiful vivarium such as the one you want to set up. As a bonus, poison frogs are diurnal, meaning they’re active during the day, so you should be able to easily observe their interesting behaviors. They can live for about eight years in captivity, given the proper care. To help provide that, be sure to read our excellent poison frog care sheet at ReptilesMagazine.com/poisonfrogcare.