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Dendrobatids are also known as poison-arrow, arrow-poison, and dart-poison frogs. As a group they are the most brightly colored of frogs. Dendrobatids are generally small species, about 20 to 40 mm in snout-vent length. They are also mostly diurnal, and observed hopping on the forest floor by day. A few species are arboreal, or at least partly so. They range from Nicaragua to the Amazonian Bolivia, the Guianas, and SE Brazil. There are no fossils.


Many dendrobatids are brightly colored (and presumably poisonous to some degree). However, there are many dull-colored species in the genus Colostethus, mostly brownish, that do not appear to be poisonous. Indians of the Emberá Chocó in Colombia rub their blowgun darts onto the backs of Phyllobates terribilis to load the darts with poison (Myers et al., 1978).


The reproductive behaviors are diverse. In all species of dendrobatids for which data are known, the tadpoles are carried on the back of the adult. In some species it is the male; in others it is the female that carries the tadpoles. Generally the tadpoles are transported to a body of water, usually a stream, but also small ponds, the water-filled axils of bromeliads or some other small container, in the case of some Dendrobates. The female will transport one tadpole at a time in this way, and there is only one tadpole per crevice. These tiny hiding places offer little in the way of food resources to the developing larva, and the female has evolved the remarkable behavior of depositing unfertilized eggs in the axil to feed the developing tadpole. The normal beaks and denticles that are found in most tadpoles are reduced or lost in these bromeliad-developers.



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