Berkshire Museum Tom Patti Commission 2

Poison Dart Frogs

Every tank in the Aquarium will be full by the end of this week. Berkshire Museum’s newest addition to the downstairs is a colorful array of poison dart frogs, native to Central and South America.

Poison Dart Frogs 01Expect to see splashes of yellow, blue, and green hopping about the tropic plants and nestling in the comfort of their coconut homes. Of course, the different species will be wrestling it out for a little while as they can be very territorial said Scott Jervas, Berkshire Museum’s Aquarium Manager.

These frogs may be tiny (about an inch or so in size) but they sure do eat a lot! Scott said the frogs will eat at least 400 fruit flies a day.

The frogs in the Museum’s tank aren’t toxic since they are not from the wild. In the wild, poison dart frogs get their poison from the insects they eat, and the insects get to be toxic from the plants they eat. Out of the 175 plus species of poison dart frogs, only about 3 or 4 species are used for poison darts, Scott said.

So how do humans absorb the toxins into their arrows? For the most part, the poor frogs are roasted over an open fire so that the venom bubbles to the surface where an arrow can be dipped into it, Scott said.

Poisoned Dart Frogs 02However, there is one species of poison dart frogs that does not have to be killed for its venom. Phyllobates terribilis, or the golden poison frog, is one of the most toxic animals in the world, according to Scott. He suspects that the word “terribilis” in its Latin name stands for “terrible.”

Those wishing to use the golden frog’s toxins only have to lightly stick the frog with the arrow for it to absorb into it, a much nicer fate than the poor frogs that are cooked for their poisons. A golden frog’s poison can last up to 2 years out of its body.

Thankfully, the toxins from a poison dart frog only have an effect on humans when they enter the blood stream.

Regardless of the fact that their bright colors mean they are toxic, the poison dart frogs sure are a beautiful site to see!

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