Dendrobates auratus can be identified by their calligraphic brillant green markings on a black background on their dorsal side
(Caldwell and Summers 2003). Ventrally, they are marbled or spotted with yellow, blue, or green on dark background
(Guyer and Donnelly 2005). Among populations there are variation in both hue (ranging from white to blue-green) and pattern (from thick stripes to dots)
(Caldwell and Summers 2003). Dendrobates auratus has a smooth upper surface with a head that is relatively long. The snout truncates to slightly rounded
(Savage 2002). Dendrobates auratus is the largest poison-dart frog in Costa Rica, with adult females ranging from 27.0-42.0 mm and adult males ranging from 25.0-39.5 mm
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Colombia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, United States
U.S. state distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Hawaii
This species can be found on the Caribbean slopes from southern Nicaragua to extreme eastern Panama, and on the Pacific slopes from the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica to Colombia (Guyer and Donnelly 2005). It lives in lowlands, primarily rainforest
(Caldwell and Summers 2003). It is a shy species, found deep in the forest interior
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
These frogs forage during the day (Guyer and Donnelly 2005). They move by a series of hops, stopping briefly and hopping again when disturbed. They are excellent climbers with individuals climbing to 45 m above the ground
Males are territorial at high population densities but may not be at low populaton densities
(Caldwell and Summers 2003). The male call is a high-pitched, insect-like buzz sounding like "cheez-cheez-cheez"
(Leenders 2001). The call averages 3.5 kHz in frequency, and can last from two to four seconds followed by a five-second pause
(Savage 2002). Males can mate with many females and care for offspring of different females simultaneously
(Caldwell and Summers 2003). Females court the males and wrestle other females and chase them from their territories (Savage 2002). This behavior increases male reproductive success but puts survival success of offspring in jeopardy, since females do not defend their territories
(Caldwell and Summers 2003). A single male can mate with up to six females
(Savage 2002). After being selected by the females, the males then lead the females to the nest site made from leaf litter and the females lay four to six eggs there
(Guyer and Donnelly 2005). The male visits the eggs periodically over the incubation period to shed water, remove fungus, and rotate the eggs. After the eggs hatch, the tadpoles crawl up on the male's back
(Savage 2002). The male then transports the tadpoles to small pools of water, usually found in tree holes (Caldwell and Summers 2003). If some eggs hatch earlier than others, the tadpoles that are born first may practice cannibalism by eating the smaller tadpoles.
The tadpoles' diet consist of algae, detritus, protozoans, insect larvae, and each other
(Leenders 2001). Tadpoles are moderate-sized and can reach 30 mm
(Savage, 2002). The adults' diets consist mainly of tiny ants and mites but they also prey on beetles, flies, and springtails
(Caldwell and Summers 2003). They are known to have a life-span of eight years in captivity but it is much lower in the wild
Trends and Threats
This species is not threatened (Caldwell and Summers 2003).
Relation to Humans
This species is popular in the pet trade due to its bright colors
A Spanish-language species account can be found at the website of Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio).
Caldwell, J. P., and Summers, K. D. (2003). ''Green poison frog, Dendrobates auratus.'' Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Volume 6, Amphibians. 2nd edition. M. Hutchins, W. E. Duellman, and N. Schlager, eds., Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan.
Guyer, C., and Donnelly, M. A. (2005). Amphibians and Reptiles of La Selva, Costa Rica and the Caribbean Slope: A Comprehensive Guide. University of California Press, Berkeley.
Leenders, T. (2001). A Guide to Amphibians And Reptiles of Costa Rica. Zona Tropical, Miami.
Savage, J. M. (2002). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica. University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.
Written by Peera Chantasirivisal (Kris818 AT berkeley.edu), URAP, UC Berkeley
First submitted 2005-10-18
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2010-09-22)
Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on
amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2013. Berkeley, California:
(Accessed: May 24, 2013).
AmphibiaWeb's policy on data use.