Strawberry Poison-Dart Frog (Blue Jeans Frog
From Costa Rica Travel Guide: Vacation and Travel tips
Strawberry Poison-Dart Frog (Blue-Jeans Frog)
The Blue-Jean frog is definitely one of the most conspicuous of the Costa Rican frogs. Its brightly colored red head and back and bluish-purple legs are extremely unique. The Costa Rican Blue Jean frog has a head, back, and belly of orange to scarlet, normally marked with some diminutive streaks or spots, colored either blue or black. The hind legs and the lower half of the front limbs are marked with bright blue or purple spots on a black background; hence, the nickname, blue-jeans frog.
The blue-jean frog species are small and usually measure from 19 to 24 mm (3/4 to 1 inch). They are normally active during the day and are found in abundance in humid areas of Costa Rica, especially in the Caribbean lowlands.
The reproductive behavior of the species is quite interesting. Males can often be heard calling persistently throughout the day, and sometimes during the night when the moon is full, in attempts at attracting potential mates. Their insect like call of “buzz-buzz-buzz,” doesn’t seem to be deterred even when it is raining heavily, so if nothing else, the male is quite relentless in its courtship. The female will then approach a male and the male will lead the way to a suitable egg-laying site. The sites are often a concave leaf or a shallow depression in the ground. Poison dart frogs don’t perform amplexus when breeding; instead they position themselves back-end to back-end. When the mating is complete, the female leaves, and the male remains with the eggs; occasionally relieving its bladder on the eggs to insure them from drying out. Males will often eat the eggs that fail to develop or are infected with fungi and they are also known to eat the eggs produced by other males but are left unattended.
The eggs hatch into tadpoles after about a week, and the female returns to sit among her offspring. There, she awaits for one of the tadpoles to wriggle onto her back, and one by one she carries the tadpoles to a water-filled crevice formed by the juncture between a leaf stem and the supporting stem of a plant. The female feeds the young tadpoles every 4 days, so on average, during its development, the tadpole will feed between 9 and 13 times. The complete metamorphosis from tadpole to miniature frog takes between 43 to 52 days.
Males are very territorial and will remain in the same area for several weeks at a time. They will defend against other males and if somehow moved from their territory, they will often find their way back to their own area. They seem capable of remembering and recognizing their habitat.
The blue jean frog eats large quantities of tiny ants, which makes up 86% of their diet. These ants contain extraordinary concentrations of alkaloids, which are important factors of the skin toxin in poison dart frogs and the major contributor for its toxicity.
The blue jean frog has very few predators as the Central American bullfrog is its only real predator. The bright red coloring seems to ward off most would be attackers. Contrary to popular belief, only three species of South American poison dart frogs (Phyllobates aurotaenia, Phyllobates bicolor, and Phyllobates terribilis) have been used by Colombian tribes to poison their blowgun darts. A potent skin toxin IS present in all species of poison dart frogs, but these frogs are not dangerous to man, although one would want to wash their hands after handling any amphibian.