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The hardworking parenting of strawberry poison frogs

Hi! My name is Sam, and I am a member of the Herpetology Team here at Zoo Atlanta! Today I’d like to take you south of Atlanta to the humid lowlands and premontane forests of Central America where a very special, tiny creature lives. It is called Oophaga pumilio, commonly known as the strawberry poison frog! What makes this frog so cool? To find out, we need to look closer at their scientific name. Oophaga, while funny to say, holds a hidden meaning!

The genus name Oophaga comes from the term oophagous, which means “egg eating.” While the adult frogs don’t eat eggs, their tadpoles do! Without this very specific diet, these tadpoles couldn’t morph into frogs! This dynamic duo parental pair work hard night and day to raise their babies so they can grow up strong and healthy. The males oversee guarding the nest and keeping the eggs hydrated. Once they hatch, each tadpole is carried on the back of the female and placed into a small pool of water, usually found in the base of some plants. Once the tadpoles are safely transferred to their nursery pools, the mother feeds an unfertilized egg to each tadpole every few days until they are ready to morph into little baby frogs! It’s an exhausting six to eight weeks of diligent parenting, but it’s worth it to see these adorable baby frogs come into the world! Next time you come to Zoo Atlanta, be sure to come into Scaly Slimy Spectacular and visit these truly amazing strawberry poison frogs in the habitat between the anacondas and the reticulated python! They’re terr-ribbit!!

(photo: Sam J.)

Sam J.
Keeper III, Herpetology

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