Thursday, August 4, 2011

the terrible poison frog

the terrible poison frog by alumroot
the terrible poison frog, a photo by alumroot on Flickr.

Phyllobates terribilis, is more commonly called the golden poison frog. It generates some of the strongest frog toxins, and in the wild it is unwise to handle them with your bare hands, lest you absorb the poison through any small scratch. When I was an active herpetologist I was speaking with a friend who studies dendrobatids in the field. He told me that is was common practice in the field to test the strength of the toxin by touching the tip of your tongue to the frog to see if it went numb. This practice largely stopped upon the discovery of how toxic this frog is, as doing that with this animal in the wild might kill you. They quickly lose toxicity in captivity because they are not fed the insects from which they derive the toxins. Still, better safe than sorry, I always wore gloves when handling its congener, Phyllobates bicolor. Taken at the Audubon Aquarium, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.

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