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Strawberry Poison Dart Frog

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Strawberry Poison Dart Frog

A RAIN FOREST-DWELLING FROG

Only about one inch long, the strawberry poison dart frog is a small frog with a plump body and thin limbs. In its common form, the head and body are brilliant strawberry-red or orange-red with blue or black lower parts. The bright coloration is a warning to predators that the animal is toxic. Found mostly in Central America and Puerto Rico, the frog prefers lowland rain forests. In parts of Puerto Rico during the wet months, densities can reach almost 400 frogs per acre, the forest resounding with the loud chirping trills that males make all year round.

Males are territorial and when provoked will jump on top of an interloping male, wrestling for up to 20 minutes. While wrestling, both frogs stand on their hind legs and try to push one another to the ground with their front legs. Once one is pinned, the victor, usually the inhabitant of the territory, allows the other to leave.

Strawberry poison dart frogs mate any time of the year, the female laying up to five eggs. Once the eggs are fertilized, the male and female return to the clutch every day, the male moistening the eggs by emptying his bladder over them. After about a week, the eggs hatch, and the mother ferries them on her back to the vases of bromeliad plants, depositing one tadpole per plant. She returns to each tadpole almost every day and lays up to five unfertilized eggs for it to eat. After 43-52 days the tadpole undergoes metamorphosis.

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