MorphologyRead full entry
Golden poison frogs have a variety of bright vibrant colors that cover their entire bodies, from mint green to yellow to orange and sometimes white. Yellow or deep yellow, is the most common color seen, giving them their common name. Phyllobates terribilis is the most toxic species of frog. Unlike most other members of the Family Dendrobatidae, Phyllobates terribilis has uniform body coloration, rather than dark spots and stripes, as in their relatives Phyllobates aurotaenia , Phyllobates lugubris and Phyllobates vittatus. Adults are more brightly colored than young, which have the same primitive pattern of most other members of the family Dendrobatidae. They have dorsolateral stripes on dark bodies until they mature. By the time they reach adulthood, their coloration has changed to a single bright color.
An easy way to identify these frogs is by the odd protrusion from their mouth. This gives the false illusion that these frogs have teeth. Instead, they have an extra bone plate in their jaw that projects outwards and gives the appearance of teeth. These frogs have three toes on each foot. Each outside toe is almost equal in length but the middle toe is longer than the other two.
Bright skin coloration in P. terribilis is thought to be a warning to predators that they are poisonous. Their skin is saturated in an alkaloid poison that contains batrachotoxins. These toxins prevent nerves from transmitting nerve impulses and ultimately result in muscle paralysis. About 1900 micrograms of batrachotoxins can be found in these frogs. Only 2 to 200 micrograms is thought to be lethal to humans.
Adult females are typically larger than males. The average body length reaches 47 mm but females can reach 50 to 55 mm. Compared to the 175 species of dendrobatids, P. terribilis does not have a wide range of sizes. Other species can be as small as a human fingernail.
Range length: 47 to 55 mm.
Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry ; poisonous
Sexual Dimorphism: female larger