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Can Dart Frogs Live In a Paludarium? The Answer

Poison arrow dart frogs are called the rainforest jewels due to their breathtaking color variations. These shy creatures may be deadly in the wild due to the toxins in their skin but lose this toxicity when bred in captivity. An ethically sourced dart frog reared in captivity may make an excellent addition to your home.

Dart frogs can live in a paludarium, but need time and attention to their specific behaviors and natural environments to thrive. Each dart frog variety has its particular preferences, which you should incorporate into your paludarium to ensure that it best mimics their natural environment.

Dart frogs are beautiful and fascinating creatures and live happily in a paludarium with plenty of space and breed-specific additions of plants and water. The aim is to let your dart frog thrive and not merely survive in captivity. If you are thinking of keeping one of these mesmerizing creatures, here are some tips for setting up the best paludarium habitat.  

What Paludarium is Best for Dart Frogs?

Paludariums are a type of vivarium that incorporates the best of aquatic and terrestrial habitats in one tank, making them ideal for specimens such as dart frogs. Researching the habits and natural habitat of your chosen dart frog will ensure the best paludarium setup. 

As many dart species are territorial and aggressive, one should take care when choosing your dart frog specimens. 

Some dart frogs cope best in sexed pairs such as the D. tinctorius and D. Azureus, while others may tolerate being kept in the same species group provided there is ample space:

When sourcing your dart frog specimen, you should mimic their natural habitat as closely as possible. 

The dart frog belongs to the Dendrobatidae family, native to tropical South and Central America. They are typically brightly colored with varying degrees of toxicity which the Native Americans once used to poison their blow darts.

Dart frogs are aposematic, using bright colors to advertise their toxicity to potential predators. The natural habitat of the dart frog is varied from species to species and includes tropical and subtropical habitats such as: 

  • High altitude Shrubland
  • Freshwater marshes
  • Lakes and swamps
  • Seasonally flooded grasslands
  • Moist savanna.

Dart frogs tend to live close to the ground and in trees as high as 33 feet (10 meters) from the ground. Poison dart frogs are endemic to humid, tropical environments of Central and South America. Thus, your paludarium should provide terrain with different heights to provide multiple choices for natural movement. 

Ideally, your paludarium should provide places for the frog to hide and water features with a clean water source. As dart frogs absorb moisture from their environment, maine=ting humidity is essential. 

Paludarium sizes range from 20 to 100 gallons depending on the number of specimens you intend to keep and their specific behaviors in the wild. Dendrobates and Phyllobates are primarily terrestrial and keep to the ground, while Oophaga and Ranitomeya love to climb and need a tank with increased vertical height. 

Out of the eight groups of dart frogs, the larger breed dendrobates are the easier option to keep in a paludarium. The following three options are popular for those who wish to keep a dart frog in a paludarium. 

Blue Dart Frog, Dendrobates Tinctorius “Azureus”

The beautiful blue dart frog or Dendrobates tinctorius “Azureus” hails from northern Brazil. Its eye-catching blue skin serves as a warning to predators, with dangerous toxins that can paralyze and poison unwary predators. However, these frogs lose their toxic capacity due to altered diets in captivity.

Adult Size1.3’’ to 1.7” (3.0-4.5 cm in length)
Paludarium size24x18x18’’ (60 x 45 x 45cm)
Lifespan7-10 years
Habitat:Terrestrial/arboreal
Humidity75%-100%
Temperature70-78 °F (21-25°C)
LightingLow level UVB
FoodSpringtails, isopods, rice flour beetles and pinhead crickets 

Paludarium Requirements

Most breeders of the blue dart frog prefer to keep their specimens in pairs as females can become aggressive in competition with a mate. They spend most of their time on the ground, requiring a wider paludarium than a tall one. Blue darts prefer leaf litter and live moss and ideally should have ten gallons of space per specimen. 

Green Dart frog, Dendrobates Auratus

The green and black dart frog or Dendrobates auratus is native to Central America and parts of South America. Unlike other varieties of dart frogs, these frogs are abundant and of less concern from a conservation standpoint. 

Unlike many terrestrial cousins, the green dart frog is semi-arboreal and spends most of its time in the trees. However, due to its tiny stature, it often walks the forest floor when moving from one tree to another.

Adult SizeAverage 0.75 inches (1.9 cm)
Paludarium size24 x 18x 18’’ (60 x 45 x 45cm)
Lifespan7-10 years
HabitatSemi-arboreal 
Humidity75%-100%
Temperature70º-85ºF (21-29°C) 
LightingLow level UVB
FoodFruit flies ,springtails, isopods, and small beetles.

Paludarium Requirements

As green darts spend much of their courting, hunting, and sleeping life in trees, you should provide vertical height to allow these frogs to climb freely. Humidity is a must, and as they are shy creatures, green darts thrive when they are provided with lots of hiding places in your paludarium. 

Bumblebee Dart Frog, Dendrobates Leucomelas

The Bumblebee dart frog or Dendrobates leucomelas comes from the northern parts of South America and Guyana, Brazil, and Columbia. Typically the frogs inhabit humid areas in rainforests close to a freshwater source. Primarily terrestrial, bumblebee darts prefer flat rocks and plants or forest floor leaf litter.

Adult Size1,2” to 1,5″ or 3,1 to 3,8 cm in total length.
Paludarium size24x18x18’’ (60 x 45 x 45cm)
Lifespan7-10 years
HabitatTerrestrial/arboreal
Humidity70-80% with peaks of 100% in the morning and evening
Temperature77-84°F or 25-29°C during the day, with a drop of 9-14°F or 5-8°C at night.
LightingLow level UVB
Foodsmall or pinhead crickets, fruit flies, and springtails

Paludarium Requirements

Mainly being a floor-dwelling species, your paludarium should contain leaf litter as well as plants for when the frog chooses to climb. The bumblebee dart is diurnal and is most active during the day. Bark and mulches with live plants and sphagnum moss are the preferred dart substrate and hiding places and a variety of plant life levels should your frog wish to climb.

Conclusion

Due to deforestation, pollution, and unscrupulous pet trade depopulation, many dart frogs face extinction. The World Animal Foundation reports that almost 90 percent of these poor creatures die in transport. Ensure your dart frogs are ethically sourced and provide them with a paludarium that best suits their natural habitat to allow them to thrive. 

Sources 

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