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Weird Animals – the Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frog

Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frog

Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frog

Weird Animals – the Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frog

Have you ever heard of the Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frog? This tiny amphibian looks like it is wearing blue jeans! You need proof? Read on. This is the text of an email I received:

Estimado drbeegee:

Por favor, póngase en contacto conmigo tan pronto como sea possible. Su amigo, Levi, el Jeans azul Poison Dart Frog

Oops, sorry. Here is the text in English:

Esteemed drbeegee:

Please contact me as soon as possible. Your friend, Levi, the Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frog.

It’s true, I do know Felix the Flying Frog and recently communicated with D, the extinct Gastric Brooding Frog. But I never met a Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frog named Levi (or Tom or Dick). He was clever enough to use email but mistakenly used the BCC option and sent the email to himself.

So I received my email without the sender’s address. Attached was a photo of a bright reddish-orange frog with dark blue limbs. I became as excited as Miley Cyrus while twerking during her famed televised MTV Video Music Awards dance (?) gyrations. Make that, almost as excited. I installed my technologically superior brain wave apparatus once more and contacted Levi supernaturally.

The other blue jeans

The other blue jeans

meHola! Is this Levi, the Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frog?

LeviSi, speaking! Is this drbeegee?

me – It’s drbj, Levi. Are you really known as the Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frog?

Levi – Well, my scientific name is Oophaga pumilio formerly Dendrobates pumilio. But that’s such a mouthful that frog collectors call us Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frogs.

me – The ‘Blue Jeans’ part of your name is appropriately accurate since your limbs are dark blue to purple in color. You do resemble a bright red frog wearing dark blue jeans.

Where in the world do you live? Why the brilliant neon-red coloring? What does the ‘poison dart’ in your name represent? And how did you get the name, Levi?

Levi – I’ll explain it all. Go on, interview me.

That buzzing you hear is Levi communicating.

If you travel to Costa Rica you can see the Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frogs up close and personal at Tortoguero National Park and Arenal Volcano National Park.

Interview with Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frog

me – Okay, Levi, where do you live?

Scroll to Continue

Levi – Most Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frogs can be found in rainforests in Central and South America. My family inhabits the lowland rainforest on the eastern coast of Costa Rica. I have cousins in Nicaragua, too.

Although we are tiny, we are diurnal. So if you look carefully, you can see us during the day on the ground in the rainforest. Or you can spot us on low-lying branches no more than three feet above the ground. We buzz and chirp continually so you can hear us, too.

me – How tiny are you?

Levi (proudly) Adult BJPD frogs like me measure almost one inch long.

We move with jerky movements and small hops as if we were dancing to salsa music as we approach our prey.

me – Your prey?

Levi Si, we are carnivores and must hunt for the small invertebrates – ants, mites, termites, centipedes (yum!) and teeny spiders – that we dine on. We spot them on the forest floor with our excellent vision. Then we capture them with our long sticky tongues. Just like amarillos in Texas.

me – I think you mean armadillos.

Levi – Whatever!

Strawberry Poison Dart Frog

Strawberry Poison Dart Frog

Plastic Poison Dart Frogs

Brilliant Neon Color

me – I never saw a colorful frog like you before. The frogs in my neck of the woods and streams are dull gray/brown or monotonous green. Your photo displays a brilliant, neon-like red-orange coloring on your head and back.

Levi – That’s the most common coloring for those of us who live in Costa Rica. There are more than 100 different species of poison dart frogs with up to 30 different, colorful combinations.

Our cousins, the Strawberry Poison Dart Frogs, have the same brilliant red-orange coloring – without the jeans. Do you know why we are adorned in such bright colors?

me – A capricious Mother Nature?

Levi – Capricious? That sounds like a cinco dolares ($5) word. Our brilliant coloring is a warning to potential predators that we are poisonous.

me – And the Poison Dart in your name … ?

Levi – We carry tiny little blowguns and use them to shoot poison darts at our enemies. (laughs hysterically)

me (sarcastically) Very funny!

LeviGracias! All poison dart frogs possess a potent skin toxin. If an animal bites us, we reflexively release the toxin from poison glands on our back and around our ears. Spiders are often attracted by our beautiful colors. But if they bite us, they die and become dinner.

If a larger animal bites us, our skin toxin has a very bitter, peppery taste that causes vomiting. So any animal that has bitten us immediately expels us from their mouth.

me – Are you lethal to humans?

Levi – The good news is, No! But you might want to wash your hands after you handle any poison dart frog. The bad news is … there is one exception…

me(interrupting) … which is?

Levi – Hold your frogs! We say that instead of hold your horses! (chuckles). I’ll explain in a moment.

Blowgun expert

Poison Dart Nickname

me – In the meantime, can you tell me why you are called Poison Dart Frogs?

Levi – Ay, Dios mio, (OMG) I thought you would never ask. We got that unfortunate appellation because Amerindian tribe members have habitually used dart frog toxin to poison their blowgun darts and arrows when hunting.

The toxin poison is so powerful it can prevent nerves from transmitting impulses which can incapacitate prey and lead to heart failure.

me – But I thought you said Blue Jeans Poison Dart frogs are not lethal to humans.

Yellow Poison Dart Frog

Yellow Poison Dart Frog

Researchers in the 1960s discovered that the poison of the Golden Poison Dart Frog contains a substance known as batrachotoxin – a nerve poison more toxic than curare. The name is derived from the Greek for frog (batrachos) and for poison (toxin).

Batrachotoxin does not immediately block the nervous system. At first, it makes the contractions of the heart muscle stronger.

Scientists believe that the toxin might be used as a cardiac stimulant after a heart attack. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), poison dart frogs offer over 300 alkaloid components – chemicals similar to cocaine and morphine. Some medicines produced on the basis of batrachotoxin are already being used as anesthetics in surgery.

Golden Poison Dart Frog

Levi Es verdad. That’s true. But one of our relatives – the Golden Poison Dart Frog (Phyllobates terribilis (terrible) – is the exception I mentioned.

One Golden Poison Dart Frog can release enough poison to kill ten adult humans.

me – Is the Golden Poison Dart Frog much larger than you?

LeviSi, twice as big – almost 2 inches long. It lives in a small rainforest area along the western slopes of the Andes in Colombia, South America, but uses its poison only as a self-defense mechanism and not for killing prey.

It is listed as an endangered species because its habitat is restricted to such a small area.

me – Is this frog endangered because of agricultural development where it lives?

Levi –That’s one way to put it since it is the planting of illegal crops that is one of the biggest threats to its existence as well as the international frogs as pets trade.

me – Isn’t it dangerous to keep Golden Poison Dart Frogs as pets?

Levi – It’s not wise to handle them if you have any cuts on your hands. But they are very intelligent, like me, and can recognize their human caretakers after just a few weeks.

The change in their diet – crunchy crickets, for example, instead of their usual native ants – causes them to lose much of their toxicity when kept in captivity. You are probably wondering what makes the ants so toxic.

You know what they say – you are what you eat! Scientists believe that the concentration of alkaloids in the ants comes from the native plants they eat.

Levi -  the Champion Poison Dart Frog Wrestler

Levi - the Champion Poison Dart Frog Wrestler

Jeanette MacDonald & Nelson Eddy 'Indian Love Call'

Mating and Reproduction

me – Tell me more about the unique behaviors of Blue Jeans Poison Dart frogs.

Levi – Did you know that I am a champion wrestler?

me – Actually, Levi, that thought never occurred to me.

Levi – We BJPD frogs are very territorial. If an intruder male invades our territory we will initiate a wrestling match that may last up to 20 minutes. You would enjoy watching the two of us one-inch male frogs standing on our hind legs, chest-to-chest, trying to pin each other.

me – Perhaps I can interest WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) in sponsoring a match or two. Does the winner eat the loser?

Levi – Of course not. What do you think we are? Animals? (laughs). The loser simply slinks off in disgrace.

me – Are your mating habits also that inventive?

Levi – To attract a mate, we males vocalize by singing a loud trill. My favorite tune is ‘Indian Love Call.’ Works for me every time.

The loving couple find a safe area where there is moist leaf litter, and face away from each other, back to back, during mating which can last anywhere from 10 minutes to 3 hours. Endurance is our middle name.

The female deposits a clutch of three to five eggs encased in a gelatinous substance – she can lay up to one clutch per week – and the male fertilizes them.

me – Does the baby mama remain with the eggs?

Levi – No, she leaves to lunch with the girls and the male returns daily to moisten the eggs to keep them from drying out.

me – I know I’ll be sorry I asked but how does he keep the eggs moist? Does he water them?

Levi – I guess you could say that . . . he urinates on them.

Mama frog with two tadpoles on her back

Mama frog with two tadpoles on her back

Tadpoles to Froglets

me – How soon does the female frog return?

Levi – After an incubation period of generally seven days, the eggs hatch into tadpoles and the mama returns. Now it’s her turn to mother her brood. She sits patiently among her offspring and waits for the tadpoles to wriggle on to her back.

One by one, she carries them to a separate plant or leaf stem crevice that holds water. Her preference is bromeliad plants.

me – How does she choose the most appropriate plant for each tadpole?

Levi – Good question and that is what is so amazing. The tadpole itself chooses the spot it wants by vibrating when mama frog approaches a desirable plant.

me – That’s more than amazing. It’s supernatural. Like this interview. What do the tadpoles eat?

Levi – The mother delivers unfertilized eggs to each tadpole every few days until they complete the metamorphosis from tadpole to froglet (baby frog). The process takes up to ten months. Then they are on their own.

me – Thank you, Levi, for this incredible story. Before we say, ‘adios,’ I must ask how did you get your name?

Levi – Simple. My mom named all of us after the makers of blue jeans: I’m Levi and my siblings are Wrangler, Lee, Pointer and True Religion. If she had produced a clutch of six, there would be a Gucci, too.

me – Makes sense to me. Until we meet again, Levi, 'te cuidas' (take care).

Levi - 'Te veo cuando te veo' (See ya when I see ya.)

More Weird Animals

  • Weird Animals - the Naked Mole Rat
    The following is a verbatim transcript from Mr. Heterocephalus Glaber who most people would call a naked mole rat. HG wants to set the record straight so I promised to write this article just as he dictated.
  • Weird Animals - the Anglerfish
    Scary and bizarre-looking, the deep sea anglerfish makes its home in the darkened depths of the Atlantic and Antarctic Oceans. The female sports its own built-in fishing pole.

© Copyright BJ Rakow, Ph.D. 2013. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So."

Learn to write a dynamic resume and cover letter, network effectively, interview confidently, and negotiate salary.

Comments for Weird Animals - the Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frog

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on June 28, 2015:

Nice to meet you, Thomas. The brilliant colors of these unusual little frogs are what attracted me to them in the first place. Thanks for stopping by.

Thomas mack from Glasgow on July 02, 2014:

These little frogs are great look at the colours

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on April 10, 2014:

Hi, precy. Levi didn't mind at all - he likes being called cute - especially by lady blue jean poison dart frogs. Delighted you enjoyed this interview and had a laugh.

precy anza from USA on April 04, 2014:

Wow, Levi is such a colorful, cute frog. Hope Levi didn't mind the cute word :) Enjoyed reading this interview Drbj :) Had a laugh with the names :)

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on November 25, 2013:

Thanks for stopping by, Devika. The BJPD frog IS colorful but also dangerous. Yet it is an important component of the international colorful frog trade. Collectors do not seem to mind its poisonous proclivity.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on November 24, 2013:

Weird Animals – the Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frog very interesting and informative hub, a colorful frog but dangerous to humans.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on November 19, 2013:

Thank you, Eddy, for stopping by and enjoying the BJPD frog and his frank revelations. I agree - here is to many more hubs for both of us to share.

Eiddwen from Wales on November 16, 2013:

Such a wonderful read drbj and I thoroughly enjoyed it.Here's to so many more hubs for us both to share on here.

Enjoy your weekend.


drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on November 15, 2013:

Hi, Dianna - furnishing the frog 'tidbits' has been my pleasure, m'dear. Thank you for finding the BJPD frog and your very gracious comments. Hope your weekend is 'mahvelous.'

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on November 15, 2013:

Thank you, superfine, for loving this and finding it interesting. In return, m'dear, I love you!

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on November 15, 2013:

Forgot to mention, Ian, that since Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frogs stand back to back when the male fertilizes the female's eggs, size does not appear to be an issue.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on November 15, 2013:

We never got around to discussing religious preferences, Ian, or physical modifications, but Levi did mention that his mommy named him in honor of Levi Strauss, the first maker of genuine blue jeans - with rivets. Thanks for being intrigued, m'dear.

Dianna Mendez on November 15, 2013:

What a fascinating article and you have done an excellent job in writing it, as always! Thanks for the interesting tidbits on the frogs

Superfine on November 13, 2013:

Love the jeans! so interesting…...

Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on November 12, 2013:

Excellent as usual. I thought you were going to say that he was called Levi because he was Jewish. A mini South American Jew.

One inch tall,... Hmm! Circumcision would require a lot of care.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on November 12, 2013:

I agree, Pamela, Levi is a fascinating, feisty fellow. Thank you for the gracious comments - I will add them to my journal of sweet sayings. Now, if I could only remember the name of the file where I placed it.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on November 12, 2013:

Ah, Faith, your eloquent praise makes me feel good all over. I, too, knew little about BJPD frogs until I had the pleasure of speaking with Levi. One just never knows.

Happy I brought you smiles with my tale, the photos and my wit. The last adjective is what many of my friends call me, only they preface it with 'half.' :) Thanks for the Up and more and the sharing. You never disappoint me, m'dear.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on November 12, 2013:

Thank you, Patricia, for noticing that I 'done good' with Levi's interview. Your words make it all worthwhile. And welcome back. Hope all is on a more pleasant course in your life - have missed you.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on November 12, 2013:

I'm almost afraid to respond to that comment, Dimi, but you know me - I can be fearless. So here goes ... maybe those fellows gave rise (?) to the saying ... 'the best things come in small packages.' Just sayin'.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on November 12, 2013:

So happy to see you here, Ruby, back where you belong. Hmmmmm, that would make a great song lyric. Wow! Funny as heck? I will treasure that one, m'dear. And a hoot to boot? You ARE on a roll!

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on November 12, 2013:

Thank you, Alicia, for your gracious comments. Delighted you enjoy my weird animals series as I enjoy your educational, erudite, explicit expeditions into botany, biology, pharmacology, physiology, etc., etc.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on November 12, 2013:

Hitting all the buttons on my hub, is a rare compliment from a writer as eloquent and accomplished as you. Thank you, Bill. Thanks for finding this interesting, too.

For the record, I would not dare include a photo of those BJPD frogs mating. Too risque. They accomplish that back to back. The pic you refer to is two frogs wrestling for dominance. At least, that's what Levi, that little rascal, said. And I enjoyed your over the top pun - have to find a way to use it now. :)

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on November 12, 2013:

Very-very interesting. I can't call myself a lover of frogs, but I will most probably tame a Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frog just because it is so tiny, cute and beautiful.

I adored Jeanette in the film, 'Rose Marie,,' when she sang 'Indian Love Call' with Nelson Eddy. And loved her in 'San Francisco' with Clark Gable. Loved him, too. What a coincidence that your parents knew of her talent.

Thanks, Martie, for finding this interview and finding it interersting. Levi says, Gracias, too.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on November 12, 2013:

Speaking of awesome, which thou art, dear Mohan, I, too, learned much I did not know after that illuminating conversation with Levi. Thank you for being both entertained and illuminated. I already knew you were 'bright.'

And gracias for both the visit and the recognition of my 'erase arch.' Yew art pear-speak-cay-shoes. :)

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on November 11, 2013:

Interesting, very entertaining and I actually learned a lot about this feisty little fellow. It was a great story, told in the way only you can do.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on November 11, 2013:

Ah, drbg,

You never disappoint with your brilliant writes! Your wit is so sharp and clever and where you find such little creatures is beyond me. I have never heard of the Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frog. He is very entertaining to hear his tales and your interviews are always stellar. The photos are priceless.

Thank you for bringing the smiles once again.

Up and more and sharing

Hugs and blessings,

Faith Reaper

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on November 11, 2013:

How cool is that...the video made me feel as if I was right there..privy to that private conversation..once again, drbj, you have 'done good!!"

Many Angels are on the way this morning. ps

De Greek from UK on November 11, 2013:

So, almost one inch long, eh? Just like some of the men I see at the gym......:-)

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on November 10, 2013:

Thank you, Martin, for loving it and putting the word out. Thank you, too, for allowing me to add my comments in verse to your brilliant limericks.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on November 10, 2013:

Hi, Nell. Me, too, the 'we carry tiny blowguns' line is one of my favorites, too. I had heard about poison dart frogs before but had no idea how toxic the yellow ones are.

Thanks, m'dear, for the 'brilliant,' the Up, the sharing and the loving it.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on November 10, 2013:

Thank you for your speed in commenting, Jodah, as well as your appreciation of this entry in my Weird Animal Interviews series.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on November 10, 2013:

What can i say? I loved this! Your interviews are not only intertaining, they are very educational, and i might add, FUNNY as heck.HEE..I love the name Levi for the blue jeans frog, what a hoot!!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on November 10, 2013:

This is a fascinating hub, drbj. I loved learning about the Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frog, and the humor is very entertaining. This is an excellent addition to your weird animals series!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 10, 2013:

It is rare that I hit all the buttons on a hub but this one got all the votes.

The picture of the frogs mating was a bit "over the top" don't you think. LOL Get it? Over the top???? Sigh....sorry! :)

Great fun for a Sunday morning and interesting to boot. What more could I ask for?


Martie Coetser from South Africa on November 10, 2013:

Very-very interesting. I can't call myself a lover of frogs, but I will most probably tame a Blue Jeans Poison Dart Frog just because it is so tiny, cute and beautiful.

Oh, Jeanette MacDonald & Nelson Eddy's 'Indian Love Call' was in my parents library of LP's. I remember times I loved listening to them, beguiled by those high notes and harmonious duets....

Thanks, drbeejay for another very interesting interview with a weird animal :)

Mohan Kumar from UK on November 10, 2013:

Awesome drbeegee ! Having never heard of the blue jeans poison dart frog I am thoroughly entertained and illuminated as ever. Thou art the master of such meticulous erase arch and mirthsome interviews. Es muy bueno!

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on November 10, 2013:

love it. love it. love it... and others should too. so, I put the word out.

Nell Rose from England on November 09, 2013:

This was brilliant drbj! I love the line: We carry tiny little blowguns and use them to shoot poison darts at our enemies. (laughs hysterically)!

And the bit about the vibrating to get to the leaf! This was so interesting, and I learned so much, I thought it was the red ones that were most dangerous but its the yellow! well who would have guessed? loved it, voted up and shared!

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on November 09, 2013:

Another interesting and funny hub in this series drbj. Well done.

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