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Oophaga pumilio Schmidt 1857

Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)
Oophaga pumilio
Four Oophaga pumilio frogs

Common name

Flaming Poison Frog, Flaming Poison-arrow Frog, Strawberry Poison Frog, Strawberry Poison-dart Frog, Red-and-blue Poison Frog



Species description based on Savage (2002). A small poison frog (males to 24 mm). Throats of females are usually red; throats of males have a pale spot in the center.

Oophaga pumilio Adult 1 Oophaga pumilio Adult 2


The general coloration of Oophaga pumilio consists of a red body (occassionally blue) with red, blue, purple, or black hind legs. The lower forearms sometimes also have these colors. In some individuals, the dorsum and ventral surface are flecked with black. The skin of the dorsum is smooth. On the islands of Bocas del Toro in Panama, this species exhibits an incredible amount of color and pattern polymorphism (see Evolution below).

Oophaga pumilio Dorsal 1


The ventral coloration is similar to the dorsum, mostly red, with contrasting coloration on the limbs than sometimes extends onto the rear half of the belly.

Life history

Breeding season

Breeding occurs year-round (Savage 2002). If a female approaches a male, they engage in a series of courtship behaviors prior to amplexus (Savage 2002). Amplexus is unusual--the male and female face away from one another and place their vents together (Savage 2002).


Females typically lay between 3 and 5 eggs, and may lay another clutch as often as every week (Savage 2002). Eggs hatch in one week (Limerick 1980).


The tadpole is small and very dark brown, with a moderate tail with almost no tail fins (Savage 2002). The tail is lighter than the body, with some darker pigmentation (Savage 2002). Metamorphosis occurs after 43-52 days (Savage 2002).

Metamorph juvenile

Metamorphs are deep red (Savage 2002).

Ecology behavior and evolution


The diet consists of a variety of small arthropods, including ants (Savage 2002).


Oophaga pumilio is commonly encountered hopping along in leaf litter (Savage 2002). Their coloration is aposematic, warning predators of the toxic alkaloids exuded from their skin (Saporito et al 2007).


A series of harsh "chirps" Myers et al 1995).

Behavior and communication

Males are territorial (Savage 2002). They may engage in extensive wrestling bouts with intruding males if necessary (Savage 2002). After eggs are deposited in a male's territory, he guards them and keeps them hydrated (Weygoldt 1980, Brust 1990, Brust 1993). When the eggs hatch, the female returns and carries her offspring to water-filled phytotelmata. She feeds her larvae unfertilized eggs on a daily basis (Weygoldt 1980, Brust 1990, Brust 1993). When she arrives, she places her rear-end in the water, and the tadpoles touch her and vibrate to signal their presence (Weygoldt 1980, Brust 1990, Brust 1993). The tadpoles do not survive witout the eggs supplied by their mothers (Brust 1990, Brust 1993).


2N = 20 (Bogart 1991).


Daly and Myers (1967) and Myers and Daly (1983) initially characterized the great variation in color and patterning in Oophaga pumilio in the Bocas del Toro archipelago. This has sparked an incredible amount of research on sexual selection, behavior, and genetics in this species (Prohl et al 2007, Prohl 2002, Rudh et al 2007, Maan and Cummings 2008, Siddiqi et al 2004, Summers et al 1997, Summers and Kennedy 2004, Tazzyman and Iwasa 2010, Wang and Summers 2009, Wang and Summers 2010).


Oophaga pumilio has become a model system for understanding the relationship between toxicity and diet in poison frogs (Saporito et al 2006, Saporito 2007, Saporito et al 2010)

Taxonomy and systematics


  • Kingdom:Animalia


Schmidt 1857


Dendrobates pumilio, Dendrobates galindoi, Dendrobates ignitus, Dendrobates typographus, Hylaplesia ignita, Hylaplesia pumilio, Hylaplesia typographa

Type locality

der Weg zwischen Bocca del toro und dem Vulcan Chiriqui...zwischen 5000′ und 7000′ Höhe (Panama)

Habitat and distribution


Lowland and premotane forest to 940 m.


Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama


Oophaga pumilio distribution
Distrubution map (IUCN)


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Additional resources



Poison Frogs (Oophaga pumilio) courting

Stawberry Poison-dart frog (Oophaga pumilio) calling

Oophaga pumilio (Poison Arrow frog)