Frog of the Week

Imitating Poison Dart Frog (Ranitomeya imitator)

Imitating Poison Dart Frog
photo by John P Clare

Common Name: Imitating Poison Dart Frog, Mimic Poison Dart Frog
Scientific Name: Ranitomeya imitator
Family: Dendrobatidae – Poison Dart Frog family
Location: Peru
Maximum Size: .8 inches (2.2 cm), average .5 inches (1.3 cm)

The Imitating Poison Dart Frog lives in the montane forests and lowland tropical forests of the eastern Andes in Peru. They are active during the day amongst the leaf litter with no fear of predators thanks to its appearance.

The poison of the Imitating Poison Dart Frog is weak compared to other species. The frog imitates the colors of other more poisonous frogs to fool predators. There are a variety of different morphs. The picture at the top is of the Varadero morph, which mimics the orange and blue Ranitomeya fantastica morph. There are 3 different species that the frog mimics.

Imitating Poison Dart Frog

The Imitating Poison Dart Frogs are great parents. They are also the only monogamous amphibian, pairing with only one frog for life. The females lay a pair of eggs on a plant leaf. One is a feeder egg, which the tadpoles feed off of. The males are highly territorial, threatening other frogs that come near the eggs. Once the tadpoles grow bigger, the males move the tadpoles one by one to a new area in a plant. The water in the plant isn’t the best for the tadpoles, so both parents take care of the tadpoles.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Imitating Poison Dart Frog as Least Concern for Extinction. The frogs are common throughout their relatively large range. There could be future issues with the increasing destruction of their habitat to make room for urban and farming areas. Additionally, increased demand in the pet trade for the frog could increasing illegal capture of wild frogs. This would decrease the population overtime.

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