Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Most Deadly - The Golden Poison Frog

The golden poison frog is the most lethal of the poison dart frogs and is considered the most poisonous animal on earth. The entire family of poison dart frogs gets their names from indigenous tribes in the South American rainforests that use the toxins secreted by these frogs to tip darts and arrows for hunting. It is estimated that the golden poison frog contains enough poison to kill 10-20 humans and up to 10,000 mice. The frogs do not actually manufacture this toxin. Rather it is ingested by the frogs when they eat certain types of native insects and is secreted through their skin glands. Golden poison frogs do not use their toxin to hunt; it is only for defensive purposes.
Photo: Wilfried Berns
Golden poison frogs are among the largest of the poison dart frogs and can reach a length of over two inches as adults. They are very brightly colored and are usually mint green, yellow or orange. The purpose of this bright coloring is to warn potential predators of the frog’s toxicity, as almost any animal that consumes it will die immediately.

The golden poison frog is diurnal, meaning it is active during the day. It hunts insects using its long tongue to strike and pull the prey to its mouth, a technique which demonstrates a high degree of intelligence. As these frogs have virtually no natural predators, they make no attempt to hide from larger animals and seem to be aware that they are not threatened by predators. They are social animals, and live in groups of 4-7 individuals. Being as they are immune to their own poison, these frogs interact with each other frequently.
In contrast to their incredible toxicity in the wild, golden poison frogs raised in captivity are harmless. Being as their poison is supplied by eating insects that only exist in the South American rainforest, they never become poisonous when fed garden-variety flies and crickets from birth. Wild-born poison dart frogs that live in captivity also eventually lose their toxicity, but it may take several years for this to happen.

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