Alpha Pro Breeders Poison Dart Frog Care Sheet
Welcome to this wonderful hobby of poison dart frogs! This hobby will give you many hours of enjoyment, and you rarely have to clean a cage. There are nearly 250 species that range in almost every color imaginable. Many species are now regularly captive bred here in the United States and are firmly established. If you take good care of your frog there is no reason your frogs wont breed too.(assuming you have a male and female) When we sell frogs the majority of them are juveniles. Here is how we label our frogs for sale.
- 0 – 2 months out of the water = Froglet
- 2 – 6 months out of the water = Juvenile
- 6 – 12 months out of the water = Sub-Adults
- 12 months or older = Adults
PDFs come from South/Central American rainforests species varying wildly in color - this coupled with them being diurnal, very active and the option of having a very beautiful setup makes them a very attractive pet species for any amphibian enthusiast. Dart frogs are fairly easy to keep, but have specific requirements and can be stressed easily - they are a display animal - they are not a pet to handle.
In the wild, the diet (mites, ticks, insects etc) of the dart frogs are rich in toxins which are metabolized and secreted as poisons through the skin of the frogs - in some cases a single drop is enough to kill multiple humans if injected through the skin (even in a cut) the most poisonous PDF is reputed to be Phyllobates terribilis.
In captivity, we feed our frogs small insects such as fruit flies, small crickets, springtails and tropical woodlice - these do not contains toxins and therefore there is nothing for the frogs to metabolize into poisons which may be harmful to humans. That said, after touching the frogs or their environment it is still very important to wash your hands thoroughly.
Caging & decor
There are numerous suitable environments for dart frogs - they need a surprisingly spacious vivarium considering their size, this is because they are incredibly active frogs and will need as much room as you can provide. For example, up to 4-5 medium frogs can be kept in the 18 x 18 x 18 Zoo Med Terrarium. I would not keep a single frog in anything smaller than the 12 x 12 x 18 Zoo Med Terrarium.
Juveniles should be kept in smaller tubs so they can find their food easier.
Vivariums can be as simple or as complex as you like, so long as the frogs requirements are met. It can be as simple as a plastic tub with locking lid, or as complex as running waterfalls or rain systems fully mimicking a rainforest environment.
Dart frogs do well in room temperature - that is, if its comfortable for you or me, it will be comfortable for your darts. This ideal temperature window is between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If your room is any colder than 65F you may wish to consider extra heating in the form of a heat mat mounted on the side of your vivarium - however ensure this is on a thermostat or thermometer to keep a eye on the temperature. Refrain from using heat bulbs as these dry out the vivarium. Remember - dart frogs do much better in cooler temperatures compared with hotter ones!
This is possibly the most important requirement to keeping dart frogs. In my opinion, dart frogs need a humidity of 85%+ and they need this constantly. If your environment is not humid enough, they will hide pretty much all of the time and prefer to stay in humid places like the vases of a bromeliad etc. Unlike many snakes and lizards, dart frogs do not require a 'drying out period', the humidity really must be kept up at all times. This can be achieved by decreasing the ventilation (some keepers don’t leave any ventilation at all) and increasing the spraying or using waterfalls and misters.
Dart frogs CAN NOT SWIM WELL! They can drown in a single cm of water and it is vital no standing water is included in any vivarium. They do not need a water dish. They can absorb all of the water they require from spraying and the humidity around them. We mist are frogs almost every day, if were trying to stimulate breeding we'll mist 2 or 3 times a day.
Many keepers believe PDFs do not require full spectrum light - they live under very deep canopies and hardly ever receive full sunlight in the wild, however personally I use a full spectrum bulb in with mine (for the plants to grow well) and it does seem to improve how active the darts are and shows off their colors nicely. Many keepers have kept them without full spectrum in the past with no problems, but it is vital to always supplement their diet with Repashy ICB vitamins. There are other suitable calcium supplements, but the Repashy vitamin in my opinion is far superior.
PDFs are tiny and require very small food, most keepers breed their own fruit fly cultures for this reason. The 2 main types of fruit flies bred are Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila hydei, Melanogaster is smaller than hydei and has a faster lifecycle. I personally like the Turkish Gliders, they are the same size as Melanogaters, but seem to produce higher numbers for me.
Other foods include: small crickets from pinhead to 1/8” ( I feed my Terribilis ¼” crickets), silverfish, springtails, bean weevils, dwarf tropical woodlice and some of the larger darts may be able to take certain species of roach.
All insects have a negative calcium: phosphorus ratio - for this reason it is vital to dust ALL food with calcium powder at least a few times per week. We also supplement Repashy Supermin a few times a week also. A medium dart frog will eat roughly 10-20 food items (e.g. fruit flies) daily. It is a very good idea to gut load the insects you are feeding to the darts, for crickets this can be one of the commercial gut load foods.
Well fed darts will happily go a week without food if well fed up before you leave (this can be useful for occasional trips away).
This question comes up a lot.
You will go into a lot of zoo’s and see quite a few dart frogs mixed together, but the different species can cause stress to one another. There is also the likelihood that they will cross breed, and this is something we should strive against in this hobby. I strongly advise NOT mixing dart frogs
Great link below on how to culture fruit flies (very Easy)