Mimic poison frog

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Mimic poison frog
R. imitator Chazuta.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Suborder: Neobatrachia
Family: Dendrobatidae
Genus: Ranitomeya
Species: R. imitator
Binomial name
Ranitomeya imitator
(Frost et al, 2006)

Dendrobates imitator Schulte, 1986

Ranitomeya imitator (formerly Dendrobates imitator), is a type of poison dart frog found in the north-central region of eastern Peru. Its common name is mimic poison frog,[1] and it is one of the most well known dart frogs in the public and scientific community.[2] Its species was discovered in the late 1980s by Rainer Schulte who later split it up into more subspecies; describing each as a specific color morph, and sometimes having a separate behavioral pattern.[2] Because this species is one of the most known poison dart frogs out there it also has some of the most research done; the population has extensive information about acoustics, morphs, and behaviors.[2]


A few of the morphs include, but are not limited to, striped, spotted, Varadero, and banded.[3] The striped morph is the most widely spread, mimicking the striped Ranitomeya variabilis and can be found throughout the lower Huallaga drainage in Peru.[3] The spotted morph mimics the highland spotted Ranitomeya variabilis and comes in, mainly, blue-green colors but can be found in other variables; sometimes in colors such as yellow.[3] The varadero morph is a lowland morph that lives nearby another but has no similarity by the looks of them.[3] Last, the banded morph, a mimic of the Ranitomeya summersi, lives in much drier climates than the average imitator and is most often found in Dieffenbachia and Heliconia plants.[3]


Like most other Ranitomeya species, R. imitator has a mild toxicity compared to other poison dart frogs. It produces the potent pumiliotoxin B, but its small size limits the amount of poison it can secrete. Like other poison dart frogs, it does not produce toxin in captivity. It probably gains its poison from consuming toxic insects or other invertebrates in the wild. Frogs of the related genus Phyllobates may derive their toxins from local melyrid beetles of genus Choresine.[4]

Reproduction and parental care[edit]

Ranitomeya imitator and related frogs exhibit a degree of parental care, with the female laying feeder eggs for the tadpoles to eat. This frog is the first amphibian species in which the sexual partners have been shown to be monogamous.[5]


Being on the lower end of the threatened species scale,[6] the ability to own one of these poison frogs is not out of question, but not as easy as it may seem. Once finished gaining the correct paperwork for legal import obtaining one of these frogs, if looking specifically for them, can be tough because of the huge number of them that die in the process[7] Once obtained, taking care of these frogs is quite a bit tougher than the average frog because of the hot and humid part of the world they come from; usually the rainforest.[7] They require to be fed on the regular of about every day because of their activity, although when not being active they will be hiding in the forestry of the terrarium.[7] So as a pet owner if finding an animal that is flashy and outgoing this species of poison frog may not be suitable. Although very flashy, the very small, thumbnail sized creature.[7] will not be the right choice.


  1. ^ East Carolina University. March 12, 2010. Biologists find proof of first confirmed species of monogamous frog. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c J.L. Brown, E. Twomey (2011). “ZOOTAXA: A taxonomic revision of the Neotropical poison frog genus Ranitomeya (Amphibia: Dendrobatidae)” Magnolia Press pp. 68-72. In Schulte, Rainer (1989). “Eine Neue Dendrobates- Art aus Ostperu (Amphibia: Salentia: Dendrobatidae) pp. 11-21
  3. ^ a b c d e Ranitomeya imitator”. dendrobates.org. In Schulte, Rainer (1989). “Eine Neue Dendrobates- Art aus Ostperu (Amphibia: Salentia: Dendrobatidae) Sauria 8(3): 11-20.
  4. ^ Dumbacher, J. P., et al. (2004). Melyrid beetles (Choresine): A putative source for the batrachotoxin alkaloids found in poison-dart frogs and toxic passerine birds. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 101(45) 15857-60.
  5. ^ Brown, J. L., et al. (2010). A key ecological trait drove the evolution of biparental care and monogamy in an amphibian. The American Naturalist 175(4) 436–46.
  6. ^ Javier Icochea, Ariadne Angulo, Karl-Heinz Jungfer 2004. Ranitomeya imitator. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1.
  7. ^ a b c d Clare, John (July 30, 2011). “Clare, John (July 30, 2011). “Imitating Dart Frog, Ranitomeya imitator/Dendrobates imitator (Schulte, 1986) - Care and Breeding”. frogforum.net