Dart Frog Care Sheet

Dart Frogs are some of the most fascinating and beautiful animals on the planet. They are also known for being some of the most poisonous! The good news is that captive bred dart frogs are completely safe and free of toxins.

All of the dart frogs we offer are captive-bred and sustainably raised. This is very important, the reason being that wild populations of dart frogs are already on the decline due to habitat loss, disease, and . The last thing we want are wild frogs to be removed from their ecosystem to supply the pet trade.

Dartfrog Phyllobates Bicolor Green Leg

Phyllobates Bicolor 'Green Leg'

18x18x18 Exo Terra Bioactive Vivarium Azureus

18x18x18 Exo Terra Bioactive Vivarium

The Enclosure

Picking the right enclosure is one of the most important decisions to make when considering keeping dart frogs. There are many options when it comes to what you can house them in. Temporary enclosures can be as simple as large plastic storage containers with clean and moist sphagnum. While healthy dart frogs can be raised this way, it requires regularly replacing the substrate, and is not ideal long-term. We highly recommend taking the time to build a self-sustaining vivarium with live plants, microfauna, and proper substrate and drainage layers.

Commercial enclosures such as Exo-Terra and Zoo Med Terrariums are great choices but need slight modifications to be suitable for dart frogs. When first building, it is a good idea to try to fruitfly-proof the vivarium. Aquarium Silicone can be used to fill gaps between the doors and lids, then sliced with a razor blade. (Stay tuned for an in-depth tutorial on this!)

Most commercial terrariums have ventilated mesh lids that allow moisture to evaporate too quickly. This can be resolved by placing a large piece of glass over the top. The glass will help trap in moisture and keep humidity levels high. A quick but temporary solution is to place clear Seran Wrap over the top and tape it down. Once you've taken these steps your vivarium should only have to be misted once per day! One way to tell if your vivarium is holding enough humidity is you should still be able to see small amounts of condensation on plant leaves or glass 18 hours after your previous misting.

(Aquariums with glass lids can also be used as enclosures!)

It is important to know that unlike most animals, dart frogs do not drink water

Dart frogs have special skin that absorbs water. This is why it's very important that dart frogs have high humidity at all times.

Although a water dish isn't necessary, it isn't a bad idea to have. However it extremely important that it is changed regularly and kept clean. Otherwise bacteria may develop which can cause illness or even death.

If the tank ever gets too dry it can provide a backup water source for frogs to soak in. Another benefit to having a water is source is that dart frogs will utilize it deposit their tadpoles! It is ideal to use distilled, reverse osmosis, or dechlorinated spring water. Tap or well water can contain unwanted chemicals or minerals that can harm frogs.

Dendrobates Tinctorius Azureus dart Frog with tadpole on back

Tinctorius Azureus carrying tadpole

Substrate Layers

An important component to a self-maintaining vivarium is the different substrate layers. Here is a list of the 4 we use in our vivariums.

  1. The Drainage Layer - This layer is the first layer that should be installed and can be created by using several different materials. Without it, water would have nowhere to go and completely saturate the soil; drowning your plants, isopods, and springtails. hydroton, matala and eggcrate are common drainage layers that can be used.
  2. Substrate Barrier - This thin layer is laid over the top of the drainage layer to prevent soil from falling into your drainage. Fiber Glass window screen mesh and landscaping frabic are readily available at local hardware stores and can be used effectively for this purpose.
  3. Soil - ABG is the go to soil substrate in the dart frog hobby. While it can be expensive, it is well worth the price. Under the right conditions it can hold up for over 2 years (sometimes much longer!) in a vivarium setting without having to be changed. This layer is important for plant growth and provides a place for isopods and springtails to thrive
  4. Leaf Litter - This is one of the most over looked substrates but arguably one of the most important! Dart frogs love leaf litter. Not only does it help them feel secure by providing quick hiding spots, but it also helps prevent soil from sticking to them, or accidently ingesting it when hunting flies. Any leaves that are put into your vivarium should come from a trusted source that is pestiside and chemical free. Live Oak, Sea Grape, and Magnolia are some of the best option readily available.