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Strawberry Poison Frog

Oophaga pumilio


This species' geographic range is the Atlantic versant, humid lowlands, and premontane slopes in eastern central Nicaragua (0-940m asl) south through the lowlands of Costa Rica and northwestern Panama (including many islands in Bocas del Toro), from 1-495m asl (Savage, 2002).


A diurnal and mostly terrestrial frog of humid lowland and premontane forest, cacao plantations, and abandoned forest clearings. Males appear to be fiercely territorial; individual territories have been estimated at 2.5 m2 (Donnelly, 1983). Observations concerning mating behaviour suggest that some O. pumilio are at times polygynous (McVey et al., 1981; Donnelly, 1989; Zimmermann and Zimmermann, 1994). Females lay a clutch of three to nine eggs in moist leaf-litter; clutch sizes in captive specimens of six to 16 eggs have been recorded (Limerick, 1980; Silverstone, 1975). There appears to be no information on the number of clutches laid annually. O. pumilio eggs hatch approximately seven days after oviposition, adults then carry the developed tadpoles from the forest floor to water filled bromeliads (Limerick, 1980). O. pumilio tadpoles have a very specialized oophagous diet, feeding solely on food eggs supplied by the female (Heselhaus, 1992; McVey et al.; 1981, Zimmermann and Zimmermann, 1994). There is little available information on wild larval development; Heselhaus (1992) reports that captive tadpoles fed an artificial diet ‘grow slowly, taking four to six months, a third longer than with natural feeding, to reach metamorphosis’. Sexual maturity is reached at a minimum size of 19mm (approximately 10 months). There are few data on longevity; Donnelly (1983) concluded that the population at Finca La Selva, Costa Rica was mostly comprised of ‘long-lived’ adults; Zimmermann and Zimmermann (1994) gave longevity of 4 years for captive O. pumilio.


Habitat loss and over-collection for the pet trade are the principal threats to this species. It is believed that the species is currently being unsustainably collected, and because of the apparently low fecundity of this species, the possibility exists that over-harvesting might lead to localized population declines. Distinct island forms are particularly susceptible to both over-collection, and the development of islands for tourism purposes. The great majority of reported trade over the period 1991 to 1996 was in live animals, presumably by the herpetological pet market. The largest overall exporter of O. pumilio between 1991 and 1996 was Nicaragua (>95% of exports); the USA consistently accounted for over 80% of recorded live O. pumilio imports from Nicaragua during this period. Current export levels from range states are not known. Museum specimens of this species have been found to have chytrid fungi, the current impact of this pathogen on O. pumilio is not known. At La Selva, declines seem to be driven by climate-driven reductions in quantity of standing leaf litter (Whitfield et al., 2007).

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Juan DiTrani
Juan DiTrani 10 years ago

Please consider including this spot in Poison Dart Frogs Mission

BrendanSmith 10 years ago

very nice!

Spotted by

Cahuita, Limón, Costa Rica

Spotted on Sep 20, 2009
Submitted on Aug 10, 2013

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