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Phyllobates vittatus Cope 1893

Endangered (IUCN 3.1)

Common name

Golfodulcean Poison Frog, Golfodulcean Poison-arrow Frog



Species description based on Savage (2002). A small poison frog (males to 26 mm, females to 31 mm).


The dorsal surface is black with a gold, yellow, orange, or red stripe running around the snout and laterally along the back. An irregular light blue-green stripe extends from below the eye to the arm, and from the rear of the arm to the groin. The upper surfaces of the arms and legs are speckled bluish-green and black.


The ventral surface is mottled black and blue-green.

Life history

Breeding season

Amplexus is characteristic of this group, with males and females facing away from one another, making contact only with their vents (Zimmerman 1982, Weygoldt 1987, Savage 2002).


Eggs (up to 21 at once) are deposited on leaves in leaf litter (Savage 2002). Females may lay a clutch of eggs as often as every week (Savage 2002). Hatching begins in 13-17 days (Zimmerman 1982, Weygoldt 1987).


The tadpole is dark brown, with a moderately long tail and shallow tail fins (Savage 2002). Tadpoles metamorphose in 45 days (Savage 2002).

Ecology behavior and evolution


The diet consists of numerous types of small arthropods, including ants (Savage 2002).


A low, raspy trill (Savage 1968, Silverstone 1975).

Behavior and communication

Phyllobates vittatus moves mostly by walking, sometimes taking short hops (Savage 2002). Males are not territorial (Savage 2002). When courting females, males often chirp (Zimmerman 1982, Weygoldt 1987). Courtship is extended (lasting up to one week), during which time males and females touch each other frequently (Zimmerman 1982, Weygoldt 1987). Once eggs are deposited, the male stays nearby to rehydrate them every so often (Savage 2002). After embryos hatch, the male carries the tadpoles to a small body of water in the forest to continue development (Savage 2002).

Taxonomy and systematics



Cope 1893


Dendrobates tinctorius vittatus

Type locality

Buenos Ayres (Costa Rica)

Habitat and distribution


Lowland forest to 550 m.


Known from Costa Rica, but also likely to occur just across the border in Panama


Phyllobates vittatus distribution
Distrubution map (IUCN)


Cope, ED. 1893. Second addition to the knowledge of the Batrachia and Reptilia of Costa Rica. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 31: 333-347.

Duellman, WE. 1967. Social organization in the mating calls of some neotropical anurans. American Midland Naturalist 77(1): 156-163.

Goldberg, SR and CR Bursey. 2010. Helminth biodiversity of Costa Rican Anurans (Amphibia: Anura). Journal of Natural History 44(29-30): 1755 - 1787.

Krintler, K and U Manthey. 1992. Amphibia: Salientia: Dendrobatidae. Phyllobates vittatus (Cope). Sauria 14(1): 247-250.

Lips, K and JM Savage. 1996. Key to the Known Tadpoles (Amphibia: Anura) of Costa Rica. Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment 31(1): 17-26

Lotters, S, KH Jungfer, FW Henkel, and W Schmidt. 2007. Poison Frogs. Biology, Species & Captive Maintenance. Frankfurt am Main: Edition Chimaira.

Ryan, M. 2002. Geographic distribution: Phyllobates vittatus. Herpetological Review 33: 318.

Savage, JM. 1968. The dendrobatid frogs of Central America. Copeia 1968(4): 745-776.

Savage, JM. 1974. Type locality for species of amphibians and reptiles described from Costa Rica. Revista de Biología Tropical. San José 22: 71-122.

Silverstone, PA. 1975. A revision of the poison-arrow frogs of the genus Dendrobates Wagler. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Science Bulletin 21: 1-55.

Silverstone, PA. 1976. A revision of the poison-arrow frogs of the genus Phyllobates Bibron in Sagra (family Dendrobatidae). Science Bulletin. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County 27: 1-53.

Summers, K. 2000. Mating and aggressive behaviour in dendrobatid frogs from Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica: a comparative study. Behaviour 137(1): 7-24.

van Wijngaarden, R. 1990. Field observations in the habitat of Phyllobates vittatus and Dendrobates auratus [en holandés]. Lacerta 48(5): 147-154.

Weygoldt, P. 1987. Evolution of parental care in poison-dart frogs (Amphibia: Anura: Dendrobatidae). Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 25(1): 51-67.

Zimmermann, H. 1982. Durch Nachzucht erhalten: Blattsteigerfrosche Phyllobates vittatus and P. lugubris. Aquarien Magazin 1982(2): 109-112.