Three-striped poison arrow frog

Female Three-striped poison arrow frog (Amereega trivittata) on the forest floor in Suriname [Canon 7D, Canon 14mm, Canon MT-24EX twin light]

Although this blog is still in its infancy, and I really do not deserve to go on vacation after only a few weeks of running it, I will not be able to update the blog until mid-August. I will try, but chances are slim.

Since I will be spending the next 10 days in the Galapagos Islands, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight an animal that I am absolutely guaranteed not to see there, a poison arrow frog. (In fact, until very recently I would have not been able to see any frogs in the Galapagos, but recently two South American species were inadvertently introduced to the islands.)

The Three-striped poison arrow frog (Amereega trivittata) is a gorgeous little creature, quite common in lowland to mid-elevation rainforests of northern South America. As implied by their common name, these frogs are quite toxic and their skin contains some pretty nasty compounds known as pumiliotoxins. These compounds can cause seizures and local paralysis in humans; A. trivittata, however, is not nearly as dangerous as some other members of the family Dendrobatidae.

I have seen this species a few times in Suriname, and on several occasions was able to witness a part of their interesting breeding behavior. In this species, after a brief courtship the female lays a clutch of eggs among the leaves on the rainforest floor, and the male guards the clutch until the moment the tiny tadpoles hatch from the eggs.The tadpoles then climb on his back, and hold on using their sucking mouthparts. He carries them to the nearest body of water, usually a small puddle or a tree hole filled with rain water, and once there the tadpoles leave his back and begin feeding on algae scraped from the bottom of their aquatic habitat. The male, being the doting father that he is, stays with the tadpoles until they metamorphose into tiny froglets and hop away to start independent life. What an adorable creature.

Male Three-striped poison arrow frog with a clutch of tadpoles on his back [Canon 7D, Canon 100mm macro, 3 x 580EXII]

2 thoughts on “Three-striped poison arrow frog

  1. Very interesting story and nice pictures.
    Good luck in the Galapagos! I hope, those introduced frogs don’t make too much trouble, and the Galapagos won’t be like Hawaii, where in the past few decades, nearly all native species have been replaced by aliens.

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