November 17, 2015
Dozens of tiny baby poison dart frogs are thriving after being born at Hastings Blue Reef Aquarium.
The little froglets hatched out as tadpoles earlier in the year and have now metamorphosed in to miniature frogs, measuring just a few millimetres in length.
Despite their minuscule size the rare phantasmal poison dart frogs are renowned as one of the most toxic amphibians in the world.
It’s the first time the species has been bred successfully at the Rock-a-Nore Road attraction and aquarists are delighted with how well they are doing.
Blue Reef Aquarium’s Leanna Lawson said: “Virtually all species of frogs, and many amphibians as well, are becoming increasingly endangered in the wild.
“Poison dart frogs in particular are facing a number of threats including disease, pollution and loss of habitat so captive breeding programmes are becoming more and more important.
“Hopefully these individuals will one day become part of a satellite breeding colony here at the aquarium and help ease pressures on the wild population
“At the moment they really are tiny, but even when they are fully grown they still only measure a couple of centimetres – it’s amazing such small amphibians can be quite so dangerous in the wild,” she added.
The World Conservation Union considers the phantasmal poison frog to be ‘Endangered’, which means that it faces a very high risk of extinction in the wild.
The species is now thought to survive in only seven sites on mountains in parts of Ecuador.
Like other species of poison dart frog it is thought the phantasmals develop their toxicity as a result of their diet which includes small insects. As frogs in captivity do not consume the same types of insects as those in the wild they are much less toxic.
Scientists have discovered that an extract from the skin of the phantasmal poison frog Epipedrobates tricolor can block pain 200 times more effectively than morphine, and without addiction and other serious side effects.