Dendrobates tinctorius Care Sheet

Dendrobates tinctorius Care Sheet

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Dendrobates tinctorius - Description

Dendrobates tinctorius, commonly known as the dyeing dart frog, is a visually striking and captivating species of dart frog renowned for its vibrant coloration and toxic skin secretions. This small amphibian belongs to the family Dendrobatidae and is native to the lush rainforests of South America, specifically found in regions of Suriname, Brazil, and French Guiana. Adult Dendrobates tinctorius typically measure between 1.5 to 2.5 inches (3.8 to 6.4 cm) in length, with females generally being larger and more robust than males. The species is renowned for its dazzling and diverse color patterns, ranging from vivid blues, such as Azureus to deep yellows, to almost black and everything in between. The vibrant coloration serves as a warning to predators, signifying the presence of potent skin toxins. The skin of Dendrobates tinctorius is smooth and glandular. The skin secretions contain alkaloid toxins, which are a defense mechanism against predators. The limbs are relatively short and sturdy, allowing for agile movement on the forest floor. Each toe possesses round adhesive pads, aiding in climbing and maintaining a firm grip on surfaces. These frogs are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day, and they are known for their energetic and bold behavior. They are excellent climbers and can often be found perched on vegetation or the forest floor. Dendrobates tinctorius is one of the most toxic species of dart frogs, with their skin secretions containing potent alkaloid toxins.

Geographical Range: 

Dendrobates tinctorius, commonly known as the dyeing dart frog, is native to the rainforests of South America. They are primarily found in regions of Suriname, Brazil, and French Guiana.

Habitat Distribution:

These dart frogs inhabit the dense tropical rainforests, favoring areas with high humidity and abundant vegetation. They are often found near water sources, such as streams or pools.

Diet:

Dendrobates tinctorius are insectivores and primarily feed on a diet of small invertebrates. In captivity, their diet can include appropriately sized insects such as fruit flies, which should be the staple. Fruit flies should be dusted with Repashy Caclium Plus every feeding. Vitamin A Plus can be administered 1-4x a month depending on age and breeding season. SuperPig can also be used 1-2x a month for breeders if desired, although we do not use it with our tinctorius.

Housing in Captivity:

Enclosure:

  • Use a mostly glass terrarium with a secure lid to maintain high humidity. The glass should be 70-90%, with screen being 10-30%. 
  • Provide hiding spots and ample foliage to mimic their natural environment. 
  • Substrate should be an ABG-like mix, FloraBoost, or like substitute, which contains peat moss, fir bark, charcoal, and moss.

Temperature and Humidity:

  • Keep temperatures between 68-80°F (20-27°C) during the day and a slight drop at night.
  • Maintain humidity levels at 80-90% to replicate their rainforest habitat.

Lighting:

  • Provide a natural light cycle with 12/12 on and off and use a full-spectrum LED to promote their well-being. Low powered UVB can be used but should be used only by advanced keepers. 

Full Reproductive Lifecycle:

Breeding:

  • Dendrobates tinctorius exhibit complex courtship behaviors. The female will follow the male to a suitable breeding habitat and stroke the back of the male.
  • Males establish territories and attract females through vocalizations.
  • Females lay eggs, usually between 4-10, in suitable locations, and males fertilize them.

Tadpole Care:

  • Tadpoles are typically moved to water sources by the male, although the female can participate in moving tadpoles.
  • Tadpoles feed on specialized diets consisting of algae, various insect-based protein, and a vitamin complex.
  • Their enclosures should be kept clean by siphoning excess waste with a turkey baster. 

Metamorphosis:

  • Metamorphosis occurs after a few months on average, and juvenile frogs resemble miniature adults.

Sexing and Dimorphism:

  • Males are generally smaller and more slender than females, with a lower back arch more subtle than females. Toepads are generally larger in males and heart-shaped.
  • During the breeding season, males exhibit vocal sacs and call to attract females.
  • Females can and will fight other females and have steep back arches. 

Interesting Facts:

  • Dendrobates tinctorius are known for their vibrant and varied coloration, which serves as a warning to predators due to their toxic skin secretions. This is called aposematism.
  • The toxicity is derived from their diet in the wild, primarily consisting of ants and mites. Millipedes and beetles have also been found to contribute toxins.

Toxin Use for Research:

  • The skin secretions of Dendrobates tinctorius contain potent alkaloid toxins.
  • These toxins have been of interest to researchers for potential medical applications, including pain management and muscle relaxants.