Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Anura Dendrobatidae

Scientific Name: Oophaga pumilio
Species Authority: (Schmidt, 1857)
Common Name(s):
English Strawberry Poison Frog, Red-and-blue Poison Frog, Flaming Poison Frog, Strawberry Poison-dart Frog, Flaming Poison-arrow Frog
Dendrobates galindoi Trapido, 1953
Dendrobates ignitus Cope, 1874
Dendrobates pumilio Schmidt, 1857
Dendrobates typographicus Oertter, 1951
Dendrobates typographus Keferstein, 1867
Hylaplesia ignita (Cope, 1874)
Hylaplesia pumilio (Schmidt, 1857)
Hylaplesia typographa (Keferstein, 1867)
Taxonomic Source(s): Frost, D.R. 2015. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.0. New York, USA. Available at:

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2008-12-23
Assessor(s): Solís, F., Ibáñez, R., Jaramillo, C., Chaves, G., Savage, J., Köhler, G. & Cox, N.A.
Reviewer(s): Stuart, S.N., Chanson, J.S., Cox, N.A. & Young, B.E.
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, tolerance of a degree of habitat modification, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2004 Least Concern (LC)
2004 Least Concern (LC)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species' geographic range is the Atlantic versant, humid lowlands, and premontane slopes in eastern central Nicaragua (0-940m asl) south through the lowlands of Costa Rica and northwestern Panama (including many islands in Bocas del Toro), from 1-495m asl (Savage, 2002).
Countries occurrence:
Costa Rica; Nicaragua; Panama
Upper elevation limit (metres):940
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This is a common species throughout its range. The species exhibits significant colour and pattern polymorphism especially among populations in the Bocas del Toro archipelago of Panama (Summers et al., 1997). Populations in forest habitat at La Selva, Costa Rica, seem to have experienced a decline (Whitfield et al., 2007).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:A diurnal and mostly terrestrial frog of humid lowland and premontane forest, cacao plantations, and abandoned forest clearings. Males appear to be fiercely territorial; individual territories have been estimated at 2.5 m2 (Donnelly, 1983). Observations concerning mating behaviour suggest that some O. pumilio are at times polygynous (McVey et al., 1981; Donnelly, 1989; Zimmermann and Zimmermann, 1994). Females lay a clutch of three to nine eggs in moist leaf-litter; clutch sizes in captive specimens of six to 16 eggs have been recorded (Limerick, 1980; Silverstone, 1975). There appears to be no information on the number of clutches laid annually. O. pumilio eggs hatch approximately seven days after oviposition, adults then carry the developed tadpoles from the forest floor to water filled bromeliads (Limerick, 1980). O. pumilio tadpoles have a very specialized oophagous diet, feeding solely on food eggs supplied by the female (Heselhaus, 1992; McVey et al.; 1981, Zimmermann and Zimmermann, 1994). There is little available information on wild larval development; Heselhaus (1992) reports that captive tadpoles fed an artificial diet ‘grow slowly, taking four to six months, a third longer than with natural feeding, to reach metamorphosis’. Sexual maturity is reached at a minimum size of 19mm (approximately 10 months). There are few data on longevity; Donnelly (1983) concluded that the population at Finca La Selva, Costa Rica was mostly comprised of ‘long-lived’ adults; Zimmermann and Zimmermann (1994) gave longevity of 4 years for captive O. pumilio.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Habitat loss and over-collection for the pet trade are the principal threats to this species. It is believed that the species is currently being unsustainably collected, and because of the apparently low fecundity of this species, the possibility exists that over-harvesting might lead to localized population declines. Distinct island forms are particularly susceptible to both over-collection, and the development of islands for tourism purposes. The great majority of reported trade over the period 1991 to 1996 was in live animals, presumably by the herpetological pet market. The largest overall exporter of O. pumilio between 1991 and 1996 was Nicaragua (>95% of exports); the USA consistently accounted for over 80% of recorded live O. pumilio imports from Nicaragua during this period. Current export levels from range states are not known. Museum specimens of this species have been found to have chytrid fungi, the current impact of this pathogen on O. pumilio is not known. At La Selva, declines seem to be driven by climate-driven reductions in quantity of standing leaf litter (Whitfield et al., 2007).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on Appendix II of CITES and is found in several protected areas within its range. A well-studied population of O. pumilio is present in the Finca La Selva Biological Reserve, northeastern Costa Rica (Donnelly, 1989; Limerick, 1980; McVey, 1981; Pröhl, 1997); populations are suspected to occur in Braulio Carrillo National Park, Corcovado National Park, and Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica. Within Panama the species is present in a number of protected areas including Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park within the Bocas del Toro archipelago (Summers et al., 1997). Nicaragua has established a CITES 2001 export quota of 3,450 specimens for this species.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.3. Artificial/Terrestrial - Plantations
suitability: Marginal  
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.2. Trade management
5. Law & policy -> 5.1. Legislation -> 5.1.2. National level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  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

1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.3. Tourism & recreation areas
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.3. Agro-industry farming
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.3. Agro-industry grazing, ranching or farming
♦ 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

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.5. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.2. Dams & water management/use -> 7.2.11. Dams (size unknown)
♦ timing: Future    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.5. Other impacts
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Donnelly, M.A. 1989. Reproductive phenology and age structure of Dendrobates pumilio in northeastern Costa Rica. Journal of Herpetology: 362-367.

Heselhaus, R. 1992. Poison-arrow frogs: their natural history and care in captivity. Blandford, London.

Ibáñez, R., Solís, F., Jaramillo, C. and Rand, S. 2000. An overview of the herpetology of Panama. In: J.D. Johnson, R.G. Webb and O.A. Flores-Villela (eds), Mesoamerican Herpetology: Systematics, Zoogeography and Conservation, pp. 159-170. The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, Texas.

IUCN. 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2010.2). Available at: (Accessed: 29 June 2010).

Kitasako, J.T. 1967. Observations on the biology of Dendrobates pumilio Schmidt and Dendrobates auratus Girard. M.S. Thesis, University of Southern California.

Limerick, S. 1980. Courtship behaviour and oviposition of the poison-arrow frog Dendrobates pumilio. Herpetologica: 69-71.

McVey, M.E., Zahary, R.G., Perry, D. and MacDougal, J. 1981. Territoriality and homing behaviour in the poison dart frog (Dendrobates pumilio). Copeia: 1-8.

Pröhl, H. 1997. Territorial behaviour of the strawberry poison-dart frog, Dendrobates pumilio. Amphibia-Reptilia: 437-442.

Savage, J.M. 2002. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica: A Herpetofauna between two Continents, between two Seas. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Silverstone, P.A. 1975. A revision of the poison-arrow frogs of the genus Dendrobates Wagler. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Science Bulletin: 1-55.

Summers, K., Bermingham, E., Weigt, L., McCafferty, S. and Dahlstrom, L. 1997. Phenotypic and genetic divergence in three species of dart-poison frogs with contrasting parental behaviour. Journal of Heredity: 8-13.

Whitfield, S.M., Bell, K.E., Philippi, T., Sasa, M., Bolaños, F., Chaves, G., Savage, J.M. and Donnelly, M.A. 2007. Amphibian and reptile declines over 35 years at La Selva, Costa Rica. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences doi:10.1073/pnas.0611256104.

Young, B., Sedaghatkish, G., Roca, E. and Fuenmayor, Q. 1999. El Estatus de la Conservación de la Herpetofauna de Panamá: Resumen del Primer Taller Internacional sobre la Herpetofauna de Panamá. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia.

Zimmermann, E. and Zimmermann, H. 1994. Reproductive strategies, breeding, and conservation of tropical frogs: dart-poison frogs and Malagasy poison frogs. In: Murphy, J.B., Adler, K. and Collins, J.T. (eds), Captive management and conservation of amphibians and reptiles, pp. 255-266. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Ithaca (New York). Contributions to Herpetology volume 11.

Citation: Solís, F., Ibáñez, R., Jaramillo, C., Chaves, G., Savage, J., Köhler, G. & Cox, N.A. 2010. Oophaga pumilio. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T55196A11257471. . Downloaded on 04 October 2015.
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