Appearance''Ranitomeya reticulata'' is one of the smaller species of poison dart frogs, hence its inclusion in the "thumbnail" species group. Males can reach approximately 12 mm in length from snout to vent, while the larger females may reach 15 or even 20 mm long. Like all poison dart frogs, ''R. reticulata'' are vividly coloured and patterned, which advertises their poison. Red-backed poison dart frogs have black legs with a cobalt or sky-blue mesh pattern, a black belly, and a back that ranges from fiery orange to scarlet in color, hence the common name. Like all arboreal frogs, ''R. reticulata'' possess suckerlike disks on their toes which makes their grip adhesive. As they are very small, they often attempt to advertise their poison by flaunting such colors or by ascending trees to escape from predators. If isolated from any form of escape, ''R. reticulata'' will use their poison as a defense mechanism. ''R. reticulata'' are more slimly built than many dendrobatids, which combined with their small size, gives them the ability to squeeze into minute hiding places.
Reproduction''R. reticulata'' naturally live in groups of five or six. At the end of the wet season, several of these groups join in large breeding gatherings. As with other poison dart frogs, the males court the females by calling to capture their attention, and then by gently stroking and licking them. A female will signal that she is sufficiently impressed by stamping her hind feet. The two frogs will then mate. The fact that the breeding season begins at the end of the wet season ensures that the eggs will be laid at the beginning of the next wet season, ensuring that the young will have a steady supply of water to keep them alive. Once the eggs hatch, the male carries the baby tadpoles into the canopy. The tadpoles have a water-soluble adhesive mucus that helps them stick to their father's back. The male ''R. reticulata'' will deposit the tadpoles into the tiny pools that accumulate in the centre of bromeliads. The female will then feed the tadpoles with infertile eggs that she lays into the water. Once the tadpoles become froglets, they are led by their parents to an existing group of red-backed poison frogs. While the young froglets are accepted by all members of the group, only their parents will look after the young frogs.
Uses''R. reticulata'' is considered a species for advanced dart hobbyists only. Their small size, breeding difficulties, and generally difficult care relative to other darts shows through high mortality rates with novice keepers. These difficulties are also the reason that the frog is fairly uncommon in the dart frog hobby and command a price upwards of $125–150 U.S. dollars per frog. It is also recommended to only keep them in pairs unless the tank size is substantial , as there are many witness accounts and anecdotal reports of heavy same-sex aggression in smaller enclosures.
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