Open Now : 10:00AM - 05:00 PM

  • Monday : 10:00AM - 05:00 PM
  • Tuesday : 10:00AM - 05:00 PM
  • Wednesday : 10:00AM - 05:00 PM
  • Thursday : 10:00AM - 05:00 PM
  • Friday : 10:00AM - 05:00 PM
  • Saturday : 10:00AM - 05:00 PM
  • Sunday : 10:00AM - 05:00 PM

As one of the largest and most dramatically coloured poison dart frogs to originate in Central America, the bumblebee poison dart frog (Dendrobates leucomelas) is a must-see member of Freshwater Fun.

Say hello – but don’t get too close – to the bumblebee poison dart frog (Dendrobates leucomelas). Also known as the yellow-banded poison frog, it’s little surprise why these amphibians share a name with their flying, honey-producing counterparts, their distinctive black and yellow colouring giving them a bee-like appearance.

Of course, bumblebees aren’t marked black and yellow just for fun, and nor is the yellow-banded poison frog. The animal’s markings serve as a deterrent, warning would-be predators to steer clear of their toxin-secreting skin, which is poisonous enough to cause heart failure and fibrillation – yikes!

Don’t let that deter you, though, because these incredible critters are a real sight to behold here at Blue Reef Portsmouth. Let’s learn more about them…

What is a bumblebee poison dart frog?

Bumblebee poison dart frogs are a species of amphibian that belong to the Dendrobates, a genus of poison dart frogs native to Central and Southern America. Besides the yellow-banded, four fellow frogs make up the Dendrobates family, including:

  • Green and black poison dart frog (Dendrobates auratus)
  • Rockstone poison dart frog (Dendrobates nubeculosus)
  • Dyeing poison dart frog (Dendrobates tinctorius)
  • Yellow-striped poison dart frog (Dendrobates truncatus)

What do bumblebee poison dart frogs look like?

Bumblebee poison dart frogs are renowned for their bold colouration, which, as mentioned, serves primarily as a deterrent against predators. The frogs themselves are predominantly yellow in colour, with a changeable variation of black splotches, stripes, and dots covering their bodies from their heads to their legs.

Remarkably for a frog that’s pretty much the same size as a 2p coin, this is the largest member of the Dendrobates family and one of the biggest poison dart frogs in the world. Typically, a fully grown adult can grow up to 4cm from snout to vent, with females usually being slightly larger than males.

Although you can’t see them, the bumblebee poison dart frog has strong adhesive pads on its feet, which are used purely for climbing amid the humid tropical rainforests of Central America.

Habitat of a bumblebee poison dart frog

The bumblebee poison dart frog lives in the tropical rainforests of Central and Southern America, chiefly in Venezuela, Brazil, Guyana, and Colombia. It thrives in extremely humid environments and is typically found near fresh water, providing the constant source of moisture on which it relies.

With that said, the bumblebee poison dart frog is much more resilient to lower humidity than other species of tropical-dwelling poison frogs. Some specimens have even been discovered in drier areas, although they are most comfortable amid the leaf litter, rocks, and fallen trees that blanket the rainforest floor.

What’s perhaps most interesting about the bumblebee poison dart frog is the fact that its distribution changes depending on the season. In the dry season, the frogs congregate in large groups close to water sources and beneath the forest canopy, while in the wet season, they’ve been known to travel far from their usual rainforest home.

What do bumblebee poison dart frogs eat?

The bumblebee poison dart frog shares a similar diet to other members of the Dendrobates family, along with other species of poison dart frogs. It typically feeds on fruit flies, termites, ants, young crickets, and some smaller species of beetles, with its protrudable sticky tongue allowing it to catch and swallow its prey whole in the blink of an eye.

Compared to some other frog species, the bumblebee poison dart frog’s tongue is quite short relative to its size. However, thanks to its lightning-fast reflexes and impressive jumping capabilities, it remains a highly effective predator.

Reproduction and lifespan

Bumblebee poison dart frogs reach full sexual maturity when they’re two years old. Their breeding season coincides with the rainforest’s rainy season, which falls around February and March each year. This is part of the reason why the frogs stay relatively close to water sources, as this gives them a convenient place to deposit their eggs.

Female bumblebee poison dart frogs lay around 5-10 eggs in a clutch, with each taking around 10-14 days to hatch into tadpoles. Each animal is usually capable of living around 4-6 years in the wild, but in captivity, this extends to 10-15 years, making them relatively long-lived.

Are bumblebee poison dart frogs poisonous?

As their name and hazardous skin markings suggest, the bumblebee poison dart frog is highly poisonous and toxic. The animal’s skin secretes potent toxins which are fatal when consumed, so this is an effective deterrent against predators.

Remarkably, bumblebee poison dart frogs aren’t innately poisonous but generate toxicity as a result of their diet. Biologists have linked the animal’s toxicity to the fact that they eat arthropods, although it’s not yet known which insect directly contributes to the frog’s toxicity.

Bumblebee poison dart frog behaviours

Bumblebee poison dart frogs exhibit a ton of unique behaviours that make them one of the most interesting amphibians to observe in captivity. For starters, they’re fiercely territorial and, though they live in small groups, will contest their space aggressively with any uninvited guests that wander onto their patch.

One part of this territorial behaviour is the frog’s call, which is thought to be one of the loudest of any poison dart frog. The bumblebee poison dart frog emits this call to ward off its rivals, and it’s a sound that has become a distinctive note in the natural soundtrack of the rainforest.

Bumblebee poison dart frog: Conservation status

Currently, the bumblebee poison dart frog is ranked as “Least Concern” on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, but the fact that the animal is listed here shows the grave threats it faces in the wild.

While the bumblebee poison dart frog isn’t endangered yet, its numbers are likely to continue on a downward trajectory should habitat loss and human encroachment continue. We only hope this enchanting critter can resist the threats that all animals of the rainforest now face.

Where can you see our bumblebee poison dart frogs?

Bumblebee poison dart frogs are on display at the Freshwater Fun exhibit here at Blue Reef Portsmouth, where you’ll find a further 29 species in 19 specially adapted tanks. We’ve worked hard to ensure that each display tank provides the perfect home for the creatures they contain, with the conditions inside our poison dart frog exhibit mimicking those found in the tropical rainforest.

Ready for an up-close encounter with the bumblebee poison dart frog? Book your tickets to Blue Reef right here.



What do they eat?




Water Type

Fresh water

Where are we?

Central and Southern America

Get Blue Reef Aquarium Portsmouth news and offers right to your inbox!