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Kokoe Poision Frog, Utria National Park, Colombia On this day where the universe conspired against us (people not showing up to appointments, fog problems, incompetent local staff) we very much needed a lucky break. This single find turned the day around. We came to the northwest of Colombia for birds, the cloud forest, but also for rare poison frogs. This is one of the key target species.<br />
<br />
This is possibly the male of the species, as it is known to carry tadpoles to still waters as soon as they hatch. Besides this frog being beautiful and having a small range, it&#039;s also incredibly tiny and very, very poisonous. Which is no direct reason for concern, they release poison only under heavy stress and it would affect you only by directly touching them. The behavior of the frog is obviously to flee, not to attack.<br />
<br />
To highlight the incompetence of the local ranger: &quot;this is a very common frog, totally harmless&quot;. <br />
<br />
This find was also our first meeting with the process of finding poison dart frogs. Our ignorant assumption was that we&#039;d just travel to the right area, and they&#039;d be easy to find due to their vibrant colors. Simple.<br />
<br />
We couldn&#039;t be more wrong. Poison frogs are well hidden under piles of dead leafs. You find them by their mating call, which you wouldn&#039;t recognize as they sound like a bird, amidst a jungle full of other bird sounds. Here&#039;s the mating call for this one:<br />
<br />
<section class="video"><iframe width="448" height="282" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/s6lcC03NzdI?hd=1&autoplay=0&rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></section><br />
<br />
The call, if you know how to listen for it, points you in a search direction, a radius of a few meters from where you heard the call. Next, using flashlights and picking up leaf by leaf, you try to find the exact location. The frog is aware of you and will stop calling. The whole process of finding a single frog like this can easily take an hour, if you find it at all. <br />
<br />
They&#039;re also a LOT smaller than we expected. Having found one and having it in sight, looking at my camera for some settings, I would easily lose it again when looking back into the scene. An idea of its size:<br />
<br />
<figure class="photo"><a href="https://www.jungledragon.com/image/57745/kokoe_poision_frog_-_size_reference_utria_national_park_colombia.html" title="Kokoe Poision Frog - size reference, Utria National Park, Colombia"><img src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.jungledragon.com/images/2/57745_thumb.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=05GMT0V3GWVNE7GGM1R2&Expires=1582156810&Signature=C6k9xjfgB7HdvUq39VGrmRmkhWI%3D" width="200" height="134" alt="Kokoe Poision Frog - size reference, Utria National Park, Colombia  Choco,Choc&oacute;,Colombia,Colombia Choco &amp; Pacific region,Kokoe Poison Frog,Phyllobates aurotaenia,South America,Utria National Natural Park,Utr&iacute;a National Natural Park,World" /></a></figure><br />
<br />
Here&#039;s a closeup of the tadpoles on its back:<br />
<br />
<figure class="photo"><a href="https://www.jungledragon.com/image/57743/kokoe_poision_frog_-_tadpoles_closeup_utria_national_park_colombia.html" title="Kokoe Poision Frog - tadpoles closeup, Utria National Park, Colombia"><img src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.jungledragon.com/images/2/57743_thumb.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=05GMT0V3GWVNE7GGM1R2&Expires=1582156810&Signature=7zrTsaNa50uyc8p%2BQegb7T%2Fmwjs%3D" width="200" height="142" alt="Kokoe Poision Frog - tadpoles closeup, Utria National Park, Colombia  Choco,Choc&oacute;,Colombia,Colombia Choco &amp; Pacific region,Fall,Geotagged,Kokoe Poison Frog,Phyllobates aurotaenia,South America,Utria National Natural Park,Utr&iacute;a National Natural Park,World" /></a></figure><br />
<br />
A 2nd individual found nearby:<br />
<br />
<figure class="photo"><a href="https://www.jungledragon.com/image/57746/kokoe_poision_frog_-macro_utria_national_park_colombia.html" title="Kokoe Poision Frog -macro, Utria National Park, Colombia"><img src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.jungledragon.com/images/2/57746_thumb.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=05GMT0V3GWVNE7GGM1R2&Expires=1582156810&Signature=scg28Z4g0kzldTptLuuikKxnufo%3D" width="200" height="170" alt="Kokoe Poision Frog -macro, Utria National Park, Colombia  Choco,Choc&oacute;,Colombia,Colombia Choco &amp; Pacific region,Fall,Geotagged,Kokoe Poison Frog,Phyllobates aurotaenia,South America,Utria National Natural Park,Utr&iacute;a National Natural Park,World" /></a></figure><br />
<figure class="photo"><a href="https://www.jungledragon.com/image/57748/kokoe_poision_frog_-_top_view_utria_national_park_colombia.html" title="Kokoe Poision Frog - top view, Utria National Park, Colombia"><img src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.jungledragon.com/images/2/57748_thumb.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=05GMT0V3GWVNE7GGM1R2&Expires=1582156810&Signature=tom%2BnLX114wcqR1pTC%2BfzaOwRPo%3D" width="200" height="134" alt="Kokoe Poision Frog - top view, Utria National Park, Colombia  Choco,Choc&oacute;,Colombia,Colombia Choco &amp; Pacific region,Kokoe Poison Frog,Phyllobates aurotaenia,South America,Utria National Natural Park,Utr&iacute;a National Natural Park,World" /></a></figure> Choco,Chocó,Colombia,Colombia Choco & Pacific region,Fall,Geotagged,Phyllobates aurotaenia,South America,Utria National Natural Park,Utría National Natural Park,World Click/tap to enlarge PromotedSpecies introCountry intro

Kokoe Poision Frog, Utria National Park, Colombia

On this day where the universe conspired against us (people not showing up to appointments, fog problems, incompetent local staff) we very much needed a lucky break. This single find turned the day around. We came to the northwest of Colombia for birds, the cloud forest, but also for rare poison frogs. This is one of the key target species.

This is possibly the male of the species, as it is known to carry tadpoles to still waters as soon as they hatch. Besides this frog being beautiful and having a small range, it's also incredibly tiny and very, very poisonous. Which is no direct reason for concern, they release poison only under heavy stress and it would affect you only by directly touching them. The behavior of the frog is obviously to flee, not to attack.

To highlight the incompetence of the local ranger: "this is a very common frog, totally harmless".

This find was also our first meeting with the process of finding poison dart frogs. Our ignorant assumption was that we'd just travel to the right area, and they'd be easy to find due to their vibrant colors. Simple.

We couldn't be more wrong. Poison frogs are well hidden under piles of dead leafs. You find them by their mating call, which you wouldn't recognize as they sound like a bird, amidst a jungle full of other bird sounds. Here's the mating call for this one:



The call, if you know how to listen for it, points you in a search direction, a radius of a few meters from where you heard the call. Next, using flashlights and picking up leaf by leaf, you try to find the exact location. The frog is aware of you and will stop calling. The whole process of finding a single frog like this can easily take an hour, if you find it at all.

They're also a LOT smaller than we expected. Having found one and having it in sight, looking at my camera for some settings, I would easily lose it again when looking back into the scene. An idea of its size:

Kokoe Poision Frog - size reference, Utria National Park, Colombia  Choco,Chocó,Colombia,Colombia Choco & Pacific region,Kokoe Poison Frog,Phyllobates aurotaenia,South America,Utria National Natural Park,Utría National Natural Park,World


Here's a closeup of the tadpoles on its back:

Kokoe Poision Frog - tadpoles closeup, Utria National Park, Colombia  Choco,Chocó,Colombia,Colombia Choco & Pacific region,Fall,Geotagged,Kokoe Poison Frog,Phyllobates aurotaenia,South America,Utria National Natural Park,Utría National Natural Park,World


A 2nd individual found nearby:

Kokoe Poision Frog -macro, Utria National Park, Colombia  Choco,Chocó,Colombia,Colombia Choco & Pacific region,Fall,Geotagged,Kokoe Poison Frog,Phyllobates aurotaenia,South America,Utria National Natural Park,Utría National Natural Park,World

Kokoe Poision Frog - top view, Utria National Park, Colombia  Choco,Chocó,Colombia,Colombia Choco & Pacific region,Kokoe Poison Frog,Phyllobates aurotaenia,South America,Utria National Natural Park,Utría National Natural Park,World

    comments (7)

  1. Beautiful find! If you ever visit La Selva reserve, in Costa Rica, you'll have an easier time of it. The place is hopping (pun intended ^^) with both Dendrobates auratus and Oophaga pumilio. Posted one year ago, modified one year ago
    1. Thank you. I will keep that in mind. We will definitely return to Costa Rica one day, it's where our travel history started and I still remember the insane abundance of wildlife of all kinds. Posted one year ago
      1. Oh I'd forgotten you'd been to CR, sorry! But I remember it the same way. I have been to very few other lowland rainforests where it was so just so easy to see a wide variety of animals, including mammals. Posted one year ago
        1. No worries, it was 2007, our very first trip. Posted one year ago
          1. Great way to get hooked on wildlife travelling! Posted one year ago
  2. WOW! This is so incredible. Fabulous spotting! I love the tadpoles on the frog's back. Posted one year ago
    1. Thanks, Christine! Posted one year ago

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''Phyllobates aurotaenia'' is a member of the frog family Dendrobatidae, which are found in the tropical environments of Central and South America. First described by zoologist George Albert Boulenger in 1913, ''P. aurotaenia'' is known for being one of the most poisonous frogs in the world. It is the smallest of the poison dart frogs in the Phyllobates genus and is endemic to the Pacific coast of Colombia.

Wild specimens store batrachotoxin in glands in their skin, which can be fatal.. more

Similar species: Frogs
Species identified by Ferdy Christant
View Ferdy Christant's profile

By Ferdy Christant

All rights reserved
Uploaded Feb 28, 2018. Captured Oct 22, 2017 15:00 in Bahía Solano, Choco, Colombia.
  • NIKON D850
  • f/7.1
  • 1/60s
  • ISO64
  • 105mm