Dart Frogs, Dendrobates, Phyllobates, Epipodobates sp.

Dart Frogs, Dendrobates, Phyllobates, Epipodobates sp.

Natural Habitat

Dart frogs are a group of brightly colored, day active, and small frogs from the rainforests of Central and South America where they experience warm and humid conditions all year. Also called poison dart frogs, they get their name from the fact that some species produce a strong poison which native people use to poison their hunting darts. They are perfectly safe to keep in captivity though as their poison is derived from their wild diet and captive frogs are harmless. In general, the most commonly kept species of dart frogs such as tinctorius, auratus, and leucomelas are primarily terrestrial or ground dwelling. However, many will still climb short distances and your habitat should be structured in such a way so that your frog has many opportunities for climbing and utilizing the entire volume of its habitat. Live plants with broad leaves and many branches of varying diameter should be considered a must.

Leap Habitat Size

22" x 17" x 18" minimum. Larger sizes are even better!


Dart frogs are insectivores, meaning they only eat insects. Feeding your pet frog as wide a variety of insect prey as possible is best. This can be challenging as they have very small mouths but there are still a variety of fairly available feeder insects available. Suitable feeder insects include: fruit flies of various species, baby crickets, bean beetles, and tiny silkworms. Your feeder insects should be fed with a high quality calcium rich diet to “gutload” them and make them more nutritious for your pet frog. Feeder insects should also be lightly dusted with a pure calcium supplement at almost every feeding. The feeders should also be dusted with a multivitamin supplement every week or every other week. Feed your frog during the day when it is active so it receives the benefits of the supplement powder before the insects remove the powder from themselves. Juveniles can be fed everyday or every other day and adults three times a week. The number of insects will vary greatly depending on the type of insect and the age of your frog. In general feed as many insects as your frog will eat in ten minutes.

Five Parameters

  1. Daylight/photoperiod

    Dart frogs are diurnal, or active during the day. They don't experience much seasonal variation in lighting in their natural habitat and that should be replicated in your home. We recommend that your Leap LED lighting is on for 13 hours a day in the summer, 12 hours a day in the spring and fall, and 11 hours a day in the winter.

  2. UV/photoperiod

    The necessary duration of UV lighting is still being researched and UV certainly isn't at peak levels throughout the day. At this time we recommend that the UV light is on for four to six hours a day around midday.

  3. Heat

    In general dart frogs thrive at most home temperatures. Too hot can be just as dangerous as too cold. It is still beneficial to provide all pet reptiles and amphibians with choice. Some parts of the enclosure can be more exposed and warmer, in the high 70s F. Other parts of the habitat can be in the mid 70s and the “cool” side should be in the low 70s. Cork tubes and flats can be used for perching and for hiding. You can provide your frog with security by using bushy plants such as ferns, philodendron, or pothos to which they can retreat to escape light and heat. A dedicated heat bulb is often not necessary for this species but if extra heat is needed a low wattage halogen bulb can be used as this is our best current technology at replicating the natural heating benefits of the sun. We recommend that your heat bulb should be on for approximately four to six hours a day around midday. Temperatures can drop into the 60s or low 70s at night.

  4. Water/Misting

    Dart frogs will utilize a shallow water bowl for hydration as well as absorbing water from droplets that have collected on the leaves of plants. Dart frogs will experience a wet and a dry season in nature. For half of the year you should use your Leap misting system for longer durations and for the other half of the year less so. It’s hard to approximate a rain schedule as everyone’s home conditions are different. In general a rain just before lights out and immediately after lights on is a good place to start. You may need to mist during the day as well if your habitat is drying out excessively. Only non-chlorinated water should be used. RO (reverse osmosis) water is ideal but tap water that has been conditioned using a product such as Amquel can be used.

  5. Humidity/Fogging

    During the wet season Dart frogs should be provided with a daytime humidity of 70-80% during the day and 80-100% at night. During the dry season a daytime humidity of 60-70% is appropriate with an increase to 80-90% at night. This can be most easily accomplished by fogging for an extended period at night but not during the day. If you are having difficulty maintaining humidity levels some of the screen top can be covered with a piece of plastic or glass. Be mindful of the fact that glass or plastic blocks UV light and that constant stagnation isn’t healthy for your frog or habitat.

Handleability/Pet metric

Dart frogs should be considered display animals more than pets to handle frequently. They have moist delicate skin so care should be taken in that regard. However, brief and infrequent handling sessions are possible. If you need to handle your frog you should wash your hands thoroughly so that no soap or lotions are present on your skin. Ideally non chlorinated water should be used. When in doubt you can handle your frog with nitrile or latex gloves. Do not forcibly restrain your frog unless absolutely necessary. Allow it to climb onto your hand and then place one hand in front of the other as it crawls. Keep your chameleon close to a surface like a table or the floor in case it leaves your hands. You don’t want your frog to fall far. Remember, even a foot off the ground is a considerable height to a small lizard. Your frog is fully capable of jumping so be prepared! Any handling done by children should be supervised by an adult.


Intermediate. Dart frogs make some of the best display animals of all reptiles and amphibians. However, their delicate skin, small size, and need for small pretty items reserve them for hobbyists with some experience.