AmphibiaWeb - Oophaga lehmanni


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Oophaga lehmanni (Myers & Daly, 1976)
Lehmann's Frog, Red-banded Poison Frog, Harlequin Poison Frog
family: Dendrobatidae
subfamily: Dendrobatinae
genus: Oophaga
Oophaga lehmanni
© 2001 Arachnokulture (1 of 7)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Critically Endangered (CR)
CITES Appendix II
National Status None
Regional Status None
conservation needs Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .


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Lehmann's frog males and females reach 31 to 36 mm in length. Its skin is smooth and the first digit is a little shorter than the second. Three color morphs exist. Red, orange, and yellow against dark brown or black background. Most of the frog is dark but it is encircled by two brightly colored bands; one behind the head and the other around the hump of the back. This pattern continues on the belly. Each individual displays different patterns. Arms and legs also have colored bands. The toes in males are silver at the tips.

This bright color pattern is known as an aposematic coloration and warns against predators. Oophaga lehmanni is poisonous in the wild but in captivity it does not consume the food it needs to become toxic. This species is most similar to Oophaga histrionicus but lacks the histrionicotoxins which are present in O. histrionicus (Walls 1994).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Colombia

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Oophaga lehmanni is known only from its type locality: "montane forest approximately 13 km west of Dagua (town), 850-1200 meters elevation on south-facing versant of upper Río Anchicayá drainage, Department of Valle, Colombia" (Myers and Daly 1976). This is a very small range but recent specimens collected from this area have been quite different in color and pattern from typical specimens and this suggests that perhaps they are coming from a new locality or that there is substantial variation within a single population (Walls 1994).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Oophaga lehmanni primarily eats insects and is active during the day. Immediately after the rainy season males find appropriate places to store eggs (near water and safe from predators) and attract females by a series of calls. Once the female chooses a male she will deposit a few large eggs about 1.2 m above the forest floor on leaves within the area that the male selected. The male fertilizes the eggs and looks after them to insure their survival. He periodically rotates the eggs to insure they receive enough oxygen. 2 to 4 weeks following fertilization, the male carries the eggs on his back via a sticky mucous. Due to the cannibalistic nature of the tadpoles, he takes each one to a different site. Tadpoles are fed unfertilized eggs from the female. Common areas for tadpoles to mature include bromeliads, hollow trees, and bamboo stalks. It takes 2 to 3 months for tadpoles to develop into adults.

Oophaga lehmanni can breed successfully with Oophaga histrionicus in captivity. Other than its lack of histrionicotoxins, O. lehmanni does not vary from O. histrionicus and so its status as a distinct species has often been questioned (Walls 1994).

In a study of frog advertisement calls, it was suggested that there are two groups of dendrobatid frogs: northern populations with relatively long notes (125 ms) and a low note repetition rate (2-3.5/s) and southern populations (including D. lehmanni) with distinctively shorter notes (100 ms) and a higher note repetition rate of at least 5/s). The authors stress that more investigation is needed. (Lotters et al. 1999).

Trends and Threats
Possible overexploitation for pet trade, habitat destruction due to deforestation and agriculture.

Relation to Humans
Oophaga lehmanni is popular in the pet trade. However, these frogs are very delicate and when first imported, almost all died; now they are rare in the pet trade and only recommended for experienced caretakers (Walls 1994). Some compounds of their skin have pharmacological properties, and have proved to be valuable in biomedical research. (Honolulu Zoo 2002).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Habitat fragmentation
Intentional mortality (over-harvesting, pet trade or collecting)

Named for the late Federico Carlos Lehmann Valencia, a Colombian conservation biologist and ornithologist. Founder of Museo de Ciencias Naturales in Santa Teresita de Cali, Colombia in 1963 (F. Carlos Lehmann Valencia website 2001; Dendrobatidae Nederland website). In 2011, the genus Dendrobates was subdivided into seven genera, including the new genus Oophaga by Brown et al (2011).


Brown J.L., Twomey E., Amézquita A., De Souza M.B., Caldwell J.P., Lötters S., Von May R., Melo-Sampaio P.R., Mejía-Vargas D., Perez-Peña P., Pepper M., Poelman E.H., Sanchez-Rodriguez M., and Summers K. (2011). "A taxonomic revision of the Neotropical poison frog genus Ranitomeya (Amphibia: Dendrobatidae)." Zootaxa, 3083, 1-120. [link]

Dendrobatidae Nederland (2002). DN Gifkikkerportaal.

Honolulu Zoo (2002). ''Yellow-banded Dart Frog'' Archived at:

Instituto para la Investigacion y Preservacion del Patrimonio Cultural y Natural del Valle del Cauca (2001). Federico Carlos Lehmann Museum.

Lötters, S., Glaw, F., Köhler, J., and Castro, F. (1999). ''On the geographic variation of the advertisement call of Dendrobates histrionicus and related forms from north-western South America.'' Herpetozoa, 12(1/2), 23-38.

Myers, C. W. and Daly, J. W. (1976). ''Preliminary evaluation of skin toxins and vocalisations in taxonomic and evolutionary studies of poison-dart frogs (Dendrobatidae).'' Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 157(3), 173-262.

Walls, J. G. (1994). Jewels of the Rainforest: Poison Frogs of the Family Dendrobatidae. J.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, New Jersey.

Originally submitted by: Phoebe Lehmann (first posted 2003-01-11)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker, Brent Nguyen (2011-11-09)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2011 Oophaga lehmanni: Lehmann's Frog <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jun 15, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 15 Jun 2024.

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