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Dendrobates auratus Girard 1855

Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)
Dendrobates auratus
Dendrobates auratus

Common name

Green and Black Poison Frog



Species description based on Ibanez et al (1999) and Savage (2002). A small, brightly colored frog. Males to 40 mm, females to 42 mm.

Dendrobates auratus Adult 1 Dendrobates auratus Adult 2 Dendrobates auratus Adult 3 Dendrobates auratus Adult 4


The dorsum is brown or black with bright green, blue, yellow or cream-colored markings (including spots, stripes, bands, blotches). Birkhahn et al (1994), Gray (2000), and Patrick and Sasa (2009) describe color and pattern variation in this species. Gray (2000) suggested that the bright coloration is important in visual communication in this species, rather than functioning as aposematic coloration.

Dendrobates auratus Dorsal 1


The ventral surface is colored similarly to the dorsal surface.

Dendrobates auratus Ventral 1


The iris is black.

Dendrobates auratus Eye 1 Dendrobates auratus Eye 2 Dendrobates auratus Eye 3


Hands and feet have no webbing. Fingers and toes have small discs at the tips.

Life history

Breeding season

Breeding occurs throughout the rainy season (Ibanez et al 1999). Wells (1978) provides a description of some courtship behavior. A male was seen calling and courting a female in Cerro Chucanti during the dry season (in March 2010; Hughey and Touchon, pers. obs.).

Dendrobates auratus Breeding season 1


Eggs are laid in the leaf litter and cared for by males (Summers 1989). Clutches are very small (Savage 2002), and may contain just two eggs (Dunn 1941). Upon hatching, tadpoles are carried by the males to small bodies of water (e.g. bromeliads or tree holes), where they develop (Eaton 1941).


Tadpoles are medium-sized and black (Savage 2002, Eaton 1941). The body is oval-shaped with a longish tail with small tail fins (Savage 2002). Tadpoles cannibalize other individuals, but also consume aquatic invertebrates present in phytotelmata (Caldwell and Arajuo 1998, Fincke 1999).

Metamorph juvenile

Metamorphosis can take as long as 43 days (Dunn 1941, Eaton 1941). Froglets develop green coloration almost immediatedly after metamorphosis (Pope 1941, Eaton 1941).

Dendrobates auratus Metamorph juvenile 1 Dendrobates auratus Metamorph juvenile 2

Ecology behavior and evolution


Dendrobates auratus eats small arthropods, including ants (Toft 1981).


This species is active during the day (Dunn 1941, Ibanez et al 1999). Predators of adult D. auratus include motmots (Master 1999) and theroposid spiders (Gray 2000). Tadpoles are consumed by grapsid crabs (Gray and Christy 2000).

Dendrobates auratus Ecology 1


A quiet buzzing sound (Dunn 1941, Ibanez et al 1999, Savage 2002).

Behavior and communication

Males actively defend territories (Savage 2002). Because male availability is limited when they are caring for clutches, females often compete for males, wrestling away other females (Savage 2002). Likewise, females generally take the leading role during courtship, although both males and females have been observed to hop around and touch the other sex (Wells 1978).


2N = 18 (Rasotto et al 1987)


Biogeography and systematics of the poison dart frog group have been work out by Clough and Summers (2000).


Toxins produced in the skin contain various alkaloids (Daly et al 1992, Daly et al 2002, Daly et al 2003). These toxins are derived from ants and other invertebrates that these frogs consume (Daly et al 2000, Daly et al 1994).

Taxonomy and systematics



Girard 1855


Dendrobates amoenus, Dendrobates latimaculatus, Dendrobates tinctorius auratus, Dendrobates tinctorius var. auratus, Dendrobates trivittatus var. aurata, Hylaplesia aurata, Hylaplesia tinctoria latimaculata, Phyllobates auratus

Type locality

Island of Taboga, in the Bay of Panama

Habitat and distribution


Lowland rainforest to 800 m.


Colombia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama. Introduced in Hawaii, USA.


Dendrobates auratus distribution
Distrubution map (IUCN)


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Additional resources

Audio Files

Vocalization of Dendrobates auratus