Subhajit Makhal: ‘I saw a little frog. He was cuter than can be. He was sitting on a log. And I’m sure he crooked at me’. A poem describing the beauty and wonders of a frog. As we know all men are different so are frogs. Few species among frogs though look cute is not so friendly. Yes it is true. These frogs are none other than Poison Dart Frogs. Poison Darts Frogs belong to tropical Central and South America. These frogs loves to reside in moist, humid, tropical rainforests of South America and Central America. Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Panama, Guyana, Suriname are those countries where these frogs reside. Poison Dart Frogs loves to reside in swamps, dense forests, lakes, marshes, swamps and flooded areas. As the name of the frog is Poison Dart Frog.
It secrets toxins like Histrionicotoxin, Epibatidine, Batrachotoxin, Pumiliotoxin 251D and Allopumiliotoxin 267 A through their own skin. In short the more colourful it is the more toxic the frog will be. The interesting fact is that Poison Dart Frogs secret toxins not for hunting it’s own prey rather it’s for only self-defense. When any predators eat these frogs they eventually become ill and die. There are various Poison Dart Species upto 170 species. Only four species are very toxic and out of these four the golden poison dart frog is the most poisonous. One frog has an average of one milligram of poison which is enough to kill 20 humans and even big elephants. The question that arise in our minds is why Poison Dart Frogs are so toxic??? What can be the reason???? ……. Well the answer is very simple.
A saying goes “We are what we eat”.Hence this line is applicable to frogs also. Poison Dart Frogs feeds upon poison ants, Centipedes which has toxins in them as well. Eating toxic foods make them toxic as well. Poison Dart Frogs lives happily in the Amazon Rainforest without any threat from predators unlike other frogs. But there is only one predator a snake named Fire-bellied snake species in this world which has immunity against toxins of Posion Dart Frogs. Humans particularly those living in the Amazon rainforest has been smart enough to use the toxins of Poison Dart Frogs to their own advantage. Many tribes of Amazon rainforest capture these frogs and extract their toxins by rubbing darts and arrow heads on the frog’s skin. Thus the darts and arrowheads becomes highly toxic . The tribal people thus use these poison darts and arrowheads to hunt animals and even fight battles against rival tribes. Poison dart frogs can live upto 15 years.
It weighs around 28 grams. Size of these frogs upto 6cm. The greatest thing about Poison Dart Frogs are that apart for being an advantage for the native tribes. These frog’s toxins are a boon for us. Researchers and Scientists after studying the compound found in Poison Dart Frog’s that it has a painkiller stronger than even morphine and also with no side effects. These frogs lay their eggs on palnts and roots. Mother Poison Dart Frogs purposely feed their tadpoles i.e baby frogs with unfertilized eggs which is very high in toxins so the tadpoles become poisonous from the tender age. Now let’s talk about their existence. These Posion Dart Frogs have become highly endangered. Illegal traders and dealers smuggle these frogs as their bright skin colours stands them out. Heavy deforestation and and increasing infrastructures will soon lead to mass extinction of thus beautiful species.