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Thread: Pet poison dart frogs

  1. #1
    FrogFreak
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    Question Pet poison dart frogs

    Can you safely handle poison dart frogs in captivity. I did read that the frogs got their poison from ants that ate poisonous things in the wild.

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  3. #2
    Jake
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    Default Re: Pet poison dart frogs

    Yes, you can safely handle them if it is necessary. They don't like it. The only thing you should worry about is if you have any open sores on your hands. Captive dart frogs are not nearly as toxic as wild ones.

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    Default Re: Pet poison dart frogs

    Yeah. Like Jake said, handling should be kept to a minimum with Darts. You are correct though, Darts derive their toxins from alkaloids in their diets. In the wild they would be eating things like ants and beetles that contain these alkaloids, thereby allowing them to produce the toxins. Since these food items are often lacking in captivity they usually lose toxins. i believe it has been found though that WC individuals can retain their toxins for many years after introduction into captivity, although their toxicity will decrease.

    Alex

  5. #4
    nx2ured
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    Default Re: Pet poison dart frogs

    Even though they are not toxic in captivity, why in the world would you want to handle them? It only stresses them out.

  6. #5
    jody
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    Default Re: Pet poison dart frogs

    thats the idea I had, that the frogs made the toxins out of the bugs they ate. Manufactured their own potent thing from toxic compouns in their food. rather than reusing poison made by the bugs.

  7. #6
    Kurt
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    Default Re: Pet poison dart frogs

    Quote Originally Posted by jody View Post
    thats the idea I had, that the frogs made the toxins out of the bugs they ate. Manufactured their own potent thing from toxic compouns in their food.
    That's not true for all frogs. Some are toxic period. Bufonids come to mind.

  8. #7
    Ron
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    Default Re: Pet poison dart frogs

    Actually, ALL amphibians could be considered toxic. Given their damp skin, it's a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, etc...so they all excrete some level of toxicity as a defense, regardless of what species. Can you handle Dendrobatids in captivity? Yes, and the vast majority of them could be handled in the wild as well. However, my worry would be less about what harm could come to the handler and more about what harm could come to the frog.

    But you're right: their toxins are sequestered from the insect they eat that contain toxins, such as oribatid mites, ants, etc. which obtained them through the plants that contained them.

  9. #8
    100+ Post Member Tom Highum's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pet poison dart frogs

    Actually I think they now believe that they get the poison from beetles. And about the ground for breeding bacteria thing. I believe some frogs have skin secretions that actually fight bacteria and parasites. I believe white's do this.

  10. #9
    Ron
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    Default Re: Pet poison dart frogs

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Highum View Post
    Actually I think they now believe that they get the poison from beetles.
    That's interesting, Tom...I had not heard this. Do you have any references to studies or literature regarding beetles as a source?

  11. #10
    100+ Post Member Tom Highum's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pet poison dart frogs

    I will try to find it.

  12. #11
    Founder John's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pet poison dart frogs

    I have a vague recollection of reading a journal article that surveyed the arthropods in the habitat and found low levels of the the toxins in question in ants (and perhaps something else). That's going back through my memory about 8 years though.
    Founder of Frogforum.net (2008) and Caudata.org (2001)

  13. #12
    100+ Post Member Tom Highum's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pet poison dart frogs

    Melyrid beetles (Choresine): A putative source for the batrachotoxin alkaloids found in poison-dart frogs and toxic passerine birds €” PNAS John what do you think about this? I think (didn't read the whole thing and most of it was over my head) it is mainly about Phyllobates terribilis

  14. #13
    Ron
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    Default Re: Pet poison dart frogs

    I will give that a read Tom, thanks. I know they have done some studies that show Dendrobatids to be quite "plastic" in their ability to sequester toxins, and that the types of toxins found in the frogs are pretty reflective of the toxins found in the inverts and microinverts of the place. For instance, frogs of species X in one valley tend to have alkaloids representative of the insects in that valley...and frogs of species X in a seperate valley tend to have alkaloids representative of that specific valley. Given that inverts and microinverts are consuming the alkaloids from the plants of each valley, and the frogs are then consuming the inverts...it makes sense. Makes one rather cautious about feeding field sweepings to certain species...

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    Founder John's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pet poison dart frogs

    That's because that species is the one that was used for poison darts. It's dangerous to even touch wild caught Phyllobates terribilis. On the other side of things, they're very tame captives (you'll see what I mean in the last 5 seconds of this video):

    YouTube - Jumping Phyllobates terribilis "mint"
    Founder of Frogforum.net (2008) and Caudata.org (2001)

  16. #15
    100+ Post Member Tom Highum's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pet poison dart frogs

    Hmm Ok did you read the article? I found it kinda interesting.

  17. #16
    Ron
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    Default Re: Pet poison dart frogs

    I did, and I definitely understand species of Phyllobates uptaking the alkaloids through different species of beetles. But for many of the other Dendrobatid species, most of their diets (based upon gut contents) consist of ants and oribatid mites. I don't have the references on hand, but the studies I'm referring to were with O. pumilio I believe.

    And I hope it doesn't seem as though I'm arguing...I'm not at all. The possible ways and sources by which they can uptake and sequester alkaloids is pretty impressive.

  18. #17
    100+ Post Member Tom Highum's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pet poison dart frogs

    I am just truly interested. This has interested me for a while.

  19. #18
    Founder John's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pet poison dart frogs

    Very interesting care article with great background, including poisons, for Phyllobates terribilis: Dart Den - Care Sheet - General Poison Dart
    Founder of Frogforum.net (2008) and Caudata.org (2001)

  20. #19
    Ron
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    Default Re: Pet poison dart frogs

    I managed to find the study I referred to earlier regarding "plasticity" of frogs and their toxins: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...602828aa3581ee

    A total of 232 alkaloids, representing 21 structural classes were detected in skin extracts from the dendrobatid poison frog Oophaga pumilio, collected from 53 different populations from over 30 years of research. The highly toxic pumiliotoxins and allopumiliotoxins, along with 5,8-disubstitiuted and 5,6,8-trisubstituted indolizidines, all of which are proposed to be of dietary mite origin, were common constituents in most extracts. One decahydroquinoline (DHQ), previously shown be of ant origin, occurred in many extracts often as a major alkaloid, while other DHQs occurred rather infrequently. Histrionicotoxins, thought to be of ant origin, did not appear to possess a specific pattern of occurrence among the populations, but when present, were usually found as major components. Certain 3,5-disubstituted pyrrolizidines and indolizidines, known to be of ant origin, did occur in extracts, but infrequently. Alkaloid composition differed with regard to geographic location of frog populations, and for populations that were sampled two or more times during the 30-year period significant changes in alkaloid profiles sometimes occurred. The results of this study indicate that chemical defense in a dendrobatid poison frog is dependent on geographic location and habitat type, which presumably controls the abundance and nature of alkaloid-containing arthropods.

  21. #20
    100+ Post Member Tom Highum's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pet poison dart frogs

    Ooh cool thanks John and Ron I have learned my something for today.

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