Photo: Two golden poison dart frogs sit on a log

Considered to be one of the most toxic animals on Earth, golden poison dart frogs have enough venom to kill ten grown humans.

Photograph by Juan Manuel Renjifo/Animals Animals—Earth Scenes

Map

Map: Golden poison dart frog range

Golden Poison Dart Frog Range

Fast Facts

Type:
Amphibian
Diet:
Carnivore
Average life span in captivity:
10 years
Size:
1 in (2.5 cm)
Weight:
Less than 1 oz
Group name:
Army
Protection status:
Endangered
Did you know?
The only natural predator of the golden poison dart frog is Leimadophis epinephelus, a snake that has developed a resistance to the frog's poison.
Size relative to a paper clip:
Illustration: Golden poison dart frog compared with paper clip

The golden poison dart frog is considered one of the most toxic animals on Earth. A single specimen measuring two inches (five centimeters) has enough venom to kill ten grown men. Indigenous Emberá people of Colombia have used its powerful venom for centuries to tip their blowgun darts when hunting, hence the species' name.

These brightly colored amphibians are among the largest of the more than 100 poison dart frog species, averaging more than one inch (two and a half centimeters) in length. They live within a tiny plot of rain forest on the Pacific coast of Colombia. And though the population in its small range is abundant, widespread decimation of the rain forest has landed this species on international endangered lists.

Their coloring, which can be yellow, orange, or pale green, depending on their particular range, is deliberately ostentatious to ward off potential predators, a tactic called aposematic coloration. Their diet includes flies, crickets, ants, termites, and beetles.

Scientists are unsure of the source of this frog's amazing toxicity, but it is possible they assimilate plant poisons, which are carried by their prey. Poison dart frogs raised in captivity and isolated from insects in their native habitat never develop venom.

The medical research community has been exploring possible medicinal uses for the golden poison dart frog's venom. They have already developed a synthetic version of one of the venom's compounds that has promise as a powerful painkiller.

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