Life Cycle of a Blue Poison Dart Frog

By Bethney Foster; Updated April 24, 2017
A blue poison dart frog sits on a leaf on a rock.

Poison dart frogs, also called poison-arrow frogs, raise their young in a very different way from most other frogs. Both the mother and father frog play roles in ensuring their offspring survive to adulthood. The poison dart frog is found within the rainforests of Central and South America, where the process of its life cycle unfolds within an environment perfectly suited for its unique needs.

Eggs

A blue poison dart frog walking in the ground in a tropical forest.

The female poison dart frog lays her eggs on land, unlike most other types of frogs. She deposits the eggs in a cluster of jelly in a burrow or beneath a leaf.

Fertilization

A blue poison dart frog on the forest floor.

The male frog then fertilizes the eggs. He stays with the clutch, guarding the incubating offspring, until the eggs hatch and tadpoles emerge.

Tadpoles

A female poison dart frog carries tadpoles on her back.

The tadpoles wiggle onto their mother’s back. The female frog then carries her offspring to a water-filled bromeliad, a type of plant. The journey may take her several days.

Bromeliad

Blooming bromeliad plants.

Rainwater accumulates with the bromeliad and the mother frog drops each tadpole into a separate pool of water that has developed within the leaves of the plant.

Frogs

A close-up of a blue poison dart frog on a bromeliad leaf.

The tadpoles feed on algae and mosquito larvae. And the mother frog returns with unfertilized eggs that she feeds to the tadpoles while they are developing. Within six to eight weeks the tadpoles have become frogs and leave the bromeliad to live in the forest.

About the Author

Bethney Foster is social justice coordinator for Mercy Junction ministry, where she edits the monthly publication "Holy Heretic." She is also an adoption coordinator with a pet rescue agency. Foster spent nearly two decades as a newspaper reporter/editor. She graduated from Campbellsville University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English, journalism and political science.