Ranitomeya fantastica 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Anura Dendrobatidae

Scientific Name: Ranitomeya fantastica (Boulenger, 1884)
Common Name(s):
English Fantastic Poison Frog, Red-headed Poison Frog
Spanish Rana Venenosa
Dendrobates fantasticus Boulenger, 1884
Taxonomic Source(s): Frost, D.R. 2016. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.0 (31 October 2016). New York, USA Available at:
Taxonomic Notes: The nominal form formerly referred to as Ranitomeya fantastica was found to be a complex of three closely related species: Ranitomeya fantastica, Ranitomeya benedicta and Ranitomeya summersi (Brown et al. 2008). R. fantastica is herein reassessed considering this change in taxonomic concept.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2011-08-02
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group,
Reviewer(s): Pascual Cuadras, A. & Cox, N.A.
Contributor(s): Angulo, A., Brown , J., Icochea M., J. & Jungfer, K.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Angulo, A. & Roelke, C.
Listed as Near Threatened given that it has an extent of occurrence estimated to be about 5,318 km2,  it is known from 13 locations, it is not considered to be severely fragmented, and there is continuing decline in the area, extent and quality of its habitat in northern Peru and a decline in the number of mature individuals due to collection for the pet trade, making it close to qualifying for Vulnerable (VU).

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This Peruvian endemic occurs north of the Río Mayo and along the Río Huallaga, in the Regions of San Martín and Loreto, Peru. Northernmost populations can be found along the Río Panapura, near Yurimaguas, while the northern spur of Cordillera Azul near Chazuta comprises the southernmost limit of its range (J. L. Brown, E. Twomey and T. R. Kahn pers. comm. July 2011). It has an altitudinal range of 180-1,200 m asl (J. L. Brown, E. Twomey and T. R. Kahn pers. comm. July 2011). It is known from 13 geographical localities and threat-defined locations (J. L. Brown pers. comm. July 2011), and its extent of occurrence is estimated to be about 5,318 km2 based on the minimum area polygon.
Countries occurrence:
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):UnknownEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:5318
Number of Locations:13
Lower elevation limit (metres):180
Upper elevation limit (metres):1200
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:It appears to be rare or uncommonly seen within its range (J. L. Brown, E. Twomey and T. R. Kahn pers. comm. July 2011), although on occasion it can be locally abundant (J. L. Brown pers. comm. July 2011). Individuals are collected for the pet trade. Its global population is not considered to be severely fragmented following IUCN's guidelines.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It is a diurnal species found only in older secondary growth and primary wet forests where arboreal phytotelms are common (J. L. Brown, E. Twomey and T. R. Kahn pers. comm. July 2011). This frog uses phytotelmata (water-holding plants) to breed, where females usually deposit 2-5 eggs ( J. L. Brown pers. comm. July 2011) and males will then guard and tend the eggs, and later transport and deposit larvae (J. L. Brown, E. Twomey and T. R. Kahn pers. comm. July 2011). Some subpopulations are quite arboreal (J. L. Brown, E. Twomey and T. R. Kahn pers. comm. July 2011). It is not known to occur in overly modified habitats (J. L. Brown, E. Twomey and T. R. Kahn pers. comm. July 2011).
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species has been and still is collected in Peru for the international pet trade. Inhabitants of settlements in the vicinity of or in this species' range participate in facilitating the international illegal trade (J. L. Brown, E. Twomey and T. R. Kahn pers. comm. July 2011). This frog was first legally exported in 2001, but many of the frogs currently in the pet trade have been illegally acquired (J. L. Brown, E. Twomey and T. R. Kahn pers. comm. July 2011).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Harvesting for the international pet trade is an important ongoing threat, but so is habitat loss. Much of this frog's habitat is close to human settlements, making it more vulnerable to habitat destruction and degradation.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species occurs in the Cordillera Escalera Regional Conservation Area (J. L. Brown pers. comm. August 2011), although it is not known to what degree the area's boundaries are enforced. However, given habitat loss outside this area and within the species' range, habitat protection should be prioritized. The implementation of conservation and management programmes is important. There is a management programme under way for the species (ASPRAVEP Project). Monitoring of harvest levels for the pet trade is needed, as is legislation regulating trade and enforcement of this legislation. Ranitomeya fantastica is covered in Appendix II of CITES as Dendrobates fantasticus.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
1. Land/water protection -> 1.2. Resource & habitat protection
5. Law & policy -> 5.1. Legislation -> 5.1.1. International level
5. Law & policy -> 5.1. Legislation -> 5.1.2. National level
5. Law & policy -> 5.2. Policies and regulations

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

3. Monitoring -> 3.3. Trade trends

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 National : ✓  International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Brown, J.L., Twomey, E., Pepper, M. and Sanchez Rodriguez, M. 2008. Revision of the Ranitomeya fantastica species complex with description of two new species from Central Peru (Anura: Dendrobatidae). Zootaxa 1823: 1-24.

Divossen, H. 1999. Dendrobates fantasticus in der Natur und im Terrarium. Dendrobates fantasticus in the field and in the terrarium. Aquarium: 58-60.

IUCN. 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2012.1). Available at: (Accessed: 19 June 2012).

Myers, C.W. 1982. Spotted poison frogs: Descriptions of three new Dendrobates from western Amazonia, and resurrection of a lost species from "Chiriqui". American Museum Novitates: 1-23.

Schulte, R. 1999. Pfeilgiftfrosche. Arteneil Peru (species account). INBICO, Wailblingen, Germany.

Symula, R., Schulte, R. and Summers, K. 2001. Molecular phylogenetic evidence for a mimetic radiation in Peruvian poison frogs supports a Mullerian mimicry hypothesis. Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences Series B: 2415-2421.

Citation: IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group,. 2012. Ranitomeya fantastica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T55182A3025296. . Downloaded on 25 June 2018.
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