Black-legged dart frog
(Duméril and Bibron, 1841)
The black-legged dart frog (Phyllobates bicolor), also known as the bicolored dart frog or neari in Choco, is the second-most toxic of the wild poison dart frogs. This species obtained its name due to its normally yellow or orange body with black or dark blue hindlegs and forelimbs below the elbow. It lives in the lowland forests in the Chocó area in western Colombia, along the San Juan River, although some populations live further South in Quebrada Guangui. The frogs from Quebrada Guangui bear a striking resemblance to the yellow or orange forms of Phyllobates terribilis, and are sometimes confused for them by hobbyists.
P. bicolor is one of the largest poison dart frogs. Males can reach a length of 45–50 mm from snout to vent, while the slightly larger females reach 50–55 mm in length from snout to vent. P bicolor ranges in color from earthy orange to pure yellow in coloration, often with a blue or black tinge on their legs, hence their name. They are smaller and more slender than their close relative, Phyllobates terribilis, and can resemble juvenile or subadult P. terribilis frogs. They also bear a resemblance to D. leucomelas, particularly the "netted" color morph of D. leucomelas.
While its toxicity is weaker than P. terribilis, P. bicolor is still a highly toxic animal, one of the few frogs confirmed to have caused human fatalities. Just 150 micrograms of its poison is enough to kill an adult human. This frog is often heated over a flame to make it "sweat" the liquid poison for hunting darts. The poison causes death by respiratory and muscular paralysis. Research is being conducted to determine medicinal uses for this batrachotoxin. As with all dart frogs, captive-raised individuals are not toxic; the animals require chemicals found only in their wild food sources, mainly insects. In captivity, these chemicals are not available to them from their food sources.
Like many of the Phyllobates genus, P. bicolor is mostly terrestrial, only taking to the trees when rearing young. Most are solitary animals, however wild groups can be found occasionally. Unlike many frog species, both males and females can be vocal, producing high-pitched, bird-like calls. The black-legged poison dart frog is mostly diurnal, retreating into the cover of the leaf litter at night. While most individuals are solitary, during the wet season, P. bicolor frogs, like all dendrobatids, gather in large breeding groups. One of the more dedicated of parents among anurans, P. bicolor males carry their tadpoles on their backs. The tadpoles stick to the mucus on the backs of their fathers, and are transported to puddles. There they are fed and protected until they become froglets, at which point they are completely independent, and leave to begin their adult lives.
Care for P. bicolor is similar to Phyllobates terribilis, except P. bicolor can be kept in a slightly smaller enclosure. Both males and females of this species can be vocal.
- Hickman, Cleveland P. Jr., et al. (2006). Integrated Principles of Zoology. McGraw-Hill New York.
- Bolívar & Lötters (2004). Phyllobates bicolor. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes a range map and justification for why this species is near threatened
- Olson, E. 2001. "Phyllobates bicolor" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed June 9, 2006 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Phyllobates_bicolor.html
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