Yellow-headed Poison Frog (Dendrobates leucomelas)

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Yellow-headed Poison Frog
Dendrobates leucomelas
Yellow-headed Poison Frog (Dendrobates leucomelas)
Name Yellow-headed Poison Frog
Name Lat. Dendrobates leucomelas
Family Dendrobatids
Family lat. Dendrobatidae
Order Frogs & Toads
Order lat. Anura
Origin N-South America
Habitat Rainforest
Diet Small live insects
Humidity 70-100 %
Behavior ♀ aggressive
Keeping Pair
Care Level Difficult
Breeding Moderately difficult
Housing Rainforest terrarium
Life Span 5-10 years
Protection CITES Appendix II; EU Annex B
Metric Units
Size 3.5 cm
Temperature 27-30 °C
Housing Size 40 x 30 x 35 cm
US Units
Size 1.4"
Temperature 81-86 °F
Housing Size 15" x 10" x 15"

Distribution and habitat

The range of the diurnal, ground-dwelling Yellow-banded Poison Dart Frogs extends from Venezuela, Guyana, Colombia to northeastern Brazil. They live in lowland rainforests, mainly near rivers and small bodies of water (ponds, pools, etc.). The coloration and markings of the animals vary according to their origin


For 1-2 animals, the minimum terrarium area is 1,200 cm², with a minimum effective height (measured without substrate) of 25 cm. This corresponds to a base area of e.g. 40 x 30 cm. For each additional animal, provide an additional 400 cm² of space. The terrarium should be placed in a quiet place without sunlight.

You need a terrarium with a substrate of loose, absorbent, non-rotting substrate such as sand-peat mixture, coconut fibers or sphagnum moss with a drainage and a shallow, 3-5 cm deep watering place, in addition branched climbing branches, preferably entwined by climbing plants, with horizontal perches, back and side wall coverings of e.g.E.g. tree fern plates (Xaxim) and a dense planting (e.g. Tradescantia, Ficus, Scindapsus, ferns, Bromeliads). At least twice a day the inside of the terrarium must be finely sprayed with water (humidity), but a rain or mist system is better

Temp. day: 27-30 °C Temp. night: 22-25 °C Humidity: 70-100

The lighting duration must be 10-14 hours depending on the season. Daylight fluorescent tubes with low UV content are very suitable.


The food supply consists of live, small insects such as ants, spiders, micro crickets, tiny grasshoppers and crickets, springtails, enchytraea and drosophila. Food should be offered to adults 2-3 times per week, young animals must be fed daily. It is important to add minerals and vitamins regularly (e.g. by dusting the feed animals). The quality of the feed animals can be enhanced by feeding overripe fruit and honey water

A varied diet promotes health and prevents deficiency symptoms.

Reproduction and breeding

The sexes are hardly distinguishable, adult females are somewhat plumper. The spawn, up to 10 eggs, is deposited in a brood cavity (e.g. half coconut shell), where it is fertilized by the male. After about 16 days at 22-24 °C the larvae hatch. The parents perform brood care and carry each larva (tadpole) on their backs out of the brood burrow into a small water body (e.g. leaf axils of bromeliads). After about 80-100 days, the transformation (metamorphosis) is complete and the frog leaves the water. They are fed with algae growth and dry fish food.

Species protection

The animal population must be reported in writing to the responsible authority immediately after the beginning of the keeping. It is essential to find out about any bans on keeping or permits for keeping dangerous animals in your state or municipality (e.g. public order office).

Protection of species: WA Annex II; EU Annex B. The proof of purchase is the required proof of origin for the animal. Please keep it safe! Your pet store will be happy to provide you with further information.


Females can behave aggressively within the species. Keeping several pairs or a group is only recommended in a much larger, richly structured terrarium. Only in the wild they have a skin poison, which is absorbed through the food of poisonous insects and converted into the body's own poison. Therefore they lose their skin poison after some time in terrarium keeping. Offsprings are non-poisonous. Prior to purchase, a terrarium should be prepared that meets the species specific needs. Necessary are good ventilation without drafts and equipment for measuring temperature and humidity. The lighting has to correspond to the species-specific day-night rhythm and should be placed in such a way that the animals cannot injure themselves. The terrarium should be locked in such a way that neither unauthorized persons can open it nor the animals can escape. Special attention should be paid to thorough hygiene and impurities should be removed regularly. Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: petdata; Image: Franz Lowak

Source: ENGELMANN (2006): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Reptilien und Amphibien, Harri Deutsch Verlag; VDA & DGHT (2006): Haltungsrichtlinien für die Haltung von Anuren

  • Gemäß § 21 Abs. 5 Tierschutzgesetz idgF