Dyeing Dart Frog

Dendrobates tinctorius

Dendrobates tinctorius, also known by the common name dyeing dart frog, is a species of poison dart frog. It is the third largest species, reaching lengths of 50 millimetres (2.0 in). This species is distributed throughout the eastern portion of the Guiana Shield, including parts of Guyana, Suriname, Brazil, and nearly all of French Guiana.

Like most species of the genus Dendrobates, D. tinctorius is a mildly toxic species of poison dart frog. Its conatins produces pumiliotoxins which the frog uses for self-defense. While pumiliotoxins are weaker than their derivative allopumiliotoxins and the batrachotoxins secreted by Phyllobates species, they are sufficiently toxic to discourage most animals from feeding on dendrobatids. In the case of D. tinctorius, the toxins cause pain, cramping and stiffness when the frogs are handled roughly. Due to the toxins of the frogs, animals that feed on D. tinctorius will typically learn to associate the bright colours of such frogs with the vile taste and pain that occurs after a frog is injested. As it is such a variable species, different color morphs of tinctorius have varying degrees of toxicity.

Local tribes use D. tinctorius for decoration. Feathers are plucked from the back of young parrots and the frogs are rubbed on the parrots' exposed skin. When the feathers regrow, the toxin causes them to appear yellow or red rather than green. These altered feathers are highly prized by the indigenous tribes.

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