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How to Care for Your Dart Frogs

How to Care for Your Dart Frogs


Poison Dart Frogs are small (1/2”-2 ½”), diurnal frogs native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America.  There is a great variety of dart frogs from a number of genera in the family Dendrobatidae.  The most common dart frog genus is Dendrobates, although dart frogs belonging to other genera are available as well.  “Poison” dart frogs in captivity are not poisonous, as they are not consuming the insects from their native habitats that cause their toxicity.  They come in a variety of bright colors and patterns; it is recommended to keep only similar-looking frogs from the same species together. Depending on the species of Poison Dart Frogs, they can be classified as an intermediate to advanced pet.



Dart Frogs are generally terrestrial, though some may climb on the plants in the enclosure.  They require high humidity (close to 100%), planted vivarium, which will ideally contain a water feature as well.  The water should be free of chlorine and chloramines.  Water conditioner products designed for turtle enclosures will work well for treating tap water.  Distilled water should not be used. While it’s important to maintain good ventilation, most Dart Frog keepers cover part of the enclosure’s mesh top with either glass or plexiglass to help maintain the required high humidity. A group of 3-5 of the smallest Dart Frogs (often called “thumbnail frogs due to their tiny size) could be kept in a 10-gallon tank (20”x10”x12”), though in general, larger enclosures are preferable.  The enclosure can be planted with a variety of mosses, orchids, bromeliads and other foliage that thrives in high humidity.  Water and plants can best be managed by using an expanded clay ball and mesh drainage layer topped by coco fiber or other vivarium soil mix.  Although a Dart Frog vivarium is relatively maintenance-free, setting one up properly requires planning and research that are beyond the scope of this care sheet.


Heating and Lighting

Dart Frogs do best with daytime temperatures in the high 70’s to low 80’s.  They will tolerate a temperature drop into the high 60’s at night.  Supplemental heat can be provided during cold weather by attaching heat cable or tape to the side or back of the enclosure. It’s important to avoid temperatures above 80F. Dart Frogs require relatively dim full-spectrum lighting.  The best lighting utilizes compact or tube fluorescents and facilitates plant growth without adding too much heat or dehydration.  Fluorescent bulbs decrease in the amount of UVB emitted with time.  It’s safest to replace the bulb every 6 months, though a more accurate schedule can be determined if a UV meter is purchased and used to check UV levels. Lights should be run on a timer to allow a maximum of 12 hours of extra “daylight.”

Food and Supplementation

Dart Frogs are insectivorous (insect-eating). Given their small size, they consume a large number of very small feeders.  Dart Frogs are primarily fed flightless fruit flies but can also eat other small feeders, including pinhead crickets, isopods, springtails, and Dubia Roach nymphs. 

Dart Frogs require calcium, vitamin D3, and other vitamins and minerals for healthy growth and development.  Live prey should be dusted with calcium and vitamin D3 every feeding.


*This care sheet contains only very basic information.  If you are new to Dart Frogs, please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.

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