The indigenous Pygmy peoples of the Amerindian tribe from deep within the rain forest revealed how poison arrow frogs /or poison dart frogs received their nicknames from tribal hunting rituals using frog skin secretions to poison their darts and arrows.
This small frog is only the size of a paper clip and the miniature Strawberry poison dart frog (Dendrobates pumilio) is one of more than 100 species of poison dart frogs living in the rain forest.
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) is leading a partner project in Panama to save amphibians like these from a disease called, chytrid, which is wiping them out worldwide. Eastern Panama, in particular, represents the last stronghold for amphibian biodiversity.
Smithsonian scientistis created an amphibian rescue pod for 20 Panamanian frog species in imminent danger of extinction as the fungus desease of chytrid moves through their rain forest habitat.
Scientists believe that these frogs created their poison from poisonous insects they ate in the wild. Poison dart frogs feed mostly on spiders and small insects such as ants and termites. Most frog species capture their prey by using their long sticky tongues.
Most poison dart frogs are endangered due to destruction of their habitat, which is causing their numbers to decline rapidly among several different types of frog species. Interestingly, the normally poisonous Arrow frogs are not poisonous in captivity; however, not all arrow frogs are deadly, and only three species are extremely dangerous to humans.
The most deadly species to humans is the golden poison arrow frog (Phyllobates terribilis). Its poison, batrachotoxin, can kill many small animals or humans. These frogs are found in Colombia along the western slopes of the Andes.
Arrow frogs are not poisonous in captivity. Scientists believe that these frogs poison source was from a specific spider and other insects they ate in the wild. These small frogs most likely acquire the poison from their insects' plant diet. These species can live more than ten years in captivity.
During1999, a Zoo pathologist published his discovery of a then-mysterious infection afflicting and eventually killing poison arrow frogs and white tree frogs. Through his effort, cutaneous chytridiomycosis was documented for the first time as a vertebrate parasite.
The veterinarians along with zoo keepers and pathologists developed a treatment for the chytrids. It is the over the counter antifungal used to kill athletes’ feet in humans and were very successfully on both frogs and toads. The possibility of future medications derived from these frogs' secretions is being explored with huge expectations of positive results.