top of page

1- Colostethus panamansis, the common rocket frog or Panama poison dart frog

Dunn, 1933

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Colostethus panamansis, the common rocket frog or Panama poison dart frog is a species of poison dart frog. It is found in northwestern Colombia and Panama.[2] It is one of the best studied poison dart frogs; however, until 2004 Colostethus panamansis was considered a synonym of Colostethus inguinalis, and consequently the older literature uses that name.[3]



Conservation status :




Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)[1]

Scientific classification:







Species:C. panamansis

Binomial name:

Colostethus panamansis
(Dunn, 1933)


Hyloxalus panamansis Dunn, 1933
Colostethus panamensis (incorrect spelling)

Distribution and habitat :


The common rocket frog is found in several parts of Panama and in Parque Nacional Natural Los Katios in Colombia. It is found living near streams in forested lowland and hilly country, usually at elevations below 800 metres (2,600 ft).[1]


Biology :


Adult males measure 19–27 mm (0.75–1.06 in) in snout–vent length and adult females 25–29 mm (0.98–1.14 in).[3]


The female common rocket frog lays her eggs in clutches among leaf litter. When they hatch, she carries them around on her back for up to nine days when she immerses herself in a fast flowing stream and they become detached and continue their development in the water.[4]

Female carrying tadpoles on her back

Research :


The pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis causes the emerging infectious disease chytridiomycosis which is the cause of the decline in many species of tropical amphibian. Colostethus panamansis was used to demonstrate that the fungus was indeed the pathogen responsible for the disease. Healthy rocket frogs from El Copé in Panama were collected and shown to be free of B. dendrobatidis. They were then exposed to an isolate of the fungus. Some of these died and from these B. dendrobatidis was reisolated and was demonstrated to be identical to the original infective agent thus fulfilling Koch's postulates.[5]


Conservation status


The common rocket frog is listed as being of "Least Concern" in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This is because it has a wide range in which it is common, and though the population may be declining, this is not at a rate to allow it to qualify for a higher category. The chief threats it faces are deforestation, logging and farming activities including pollution of streams with pesticides.[1]

For the external links , refrences  click here to read the full wikipedia article 

Care articles :


 - Colostethus panamensis (DUNN , 1933) 

courtesy to :


The epithet panamensis refers to the main distribution area of ​​the species in Panama.


Colostethus panamensis ( RANT , 2004) 
Colostethus inguinalis (S AVAGE , 1968) 
Prostherapis inguinalis panamensis (H EATWOLE & S EXTON , 1966) 
Phyllobates inguinalis (E VANS , 1947) 
Prostherapis panamensis (D UELLMAN , 1966) 
Prostherapis inguinalis (B REDER , 1946) 
Hyloxalus panamensis (D UNN , 1940) 
Hyloxalus fulginosus (D UNN , 1940) 
Hyloxalus panamansis (D UNN, 1933) 

sensu G RANT , 2004 


English name: Common Rocket Frog 
German name: Panama Racketefrosch


Amphibia-> Anura-> Dendrobatoidea-> Dendrobatidae-> Colostethinae-> Colostethus -> Colostethus panamensis (D UNN , 1933) 


Note to the scheme:

As synonym long time under the species C. inguinalis . G RANT (2004) showed that the species C. inguinalis is a species that is endemic to Northwest Colombia and is not identical to the animals from Panama. The name C. panamensis , which was available to the Panamanian populations , regained its validity and was raised in the category. 


Watch out! The great genus Colostethus sl for a long time contained the largest number of species within the Dendrobatidae (F ROST , 2004). However, their line of development within the family Dendrobatidae was not linear from a common ancestor. Recent genetic studies by V ENCES ET AL . (2003) reinstated a so-called monophyletice development. Instead Colostethus sl was subordinated to at least five mutually independent (paraphyletic) lines of development between other genera of the family Dendrobatidae. A splitting of Colostethus sl into different genera and even families! was then used in the course of the extensive revision of the Dendrobatoidea of ​​G RANT ET AL . (2006). The former genus Colostethus sl is now divided into the genera Allobates, Aromobates, Anomaloglossus, Manophryne and Rheobates (Fam .: Aromobatidae) and Colostethus, Hyloxalus and Silverstoneia(Fam .: Dendrobatidae).


Threat status :


Not in Annex II of the WA (CITES, 2004). Not reportable according to BArtSchVO. In the Red List (IUCN) listed as "not endangered" due to the large distribution area. No trade restrictions according to CITES (not listed). 

Trade and terraristics are unlikely to harm the Colostethus populations, as they are considered to be less attractive to terrariumers due to their cryptic coloration. However, as many species occur at higher altitudes along small and medium-sized rivers, they are likely to be endangered by chytridiomycoses ( Batrachochytridium dendrobatidis ).




Medium-sized dendrobatide with one KRL from 27-28 mm.



Brown back with pattern of dark brown spots. Belly in the male white or cream-colored, unmarked or with a fine, pale, irregular stripes or speckles. Females are shown darker on the belly. Skin smooth. Flanks slightly granulated. Throat in the male bright white, conspicuously speckled or reticulated. Throat of females rather brownish or gray. bright Labialband , tympanum small (about 1/3 of the eye diameter) and barely visible, dark brown. Upper jaw with teeth. Flanks monochrome dark brown, with oblique pale white lateral stripes (flank line) from the groin to the middle of the body at eye level. No Dorsolateralstreifen , Brighter Ventrolateralstreifen, Hind legs with dark transverse bands and yellow ones femoral stains. Fingers with moderately widened finger disks. Third finger noticeably swollen. Finger formula: 2 <4 <1 <3. Toes also with moderately widened discs and with very variable toe skins. Toe formula: 1 <2 <5 <3 <4. All information according to G RANT , 2004.







Dorsal and ventral view Colostethus panamensis "Portobelo" 


Due to the large distribution area, there are sometimes considerable differences in color in the pattern of the back and throat. Also, the basic color of the dorsums vary. However, considerable variations also occur within a population, so that no variants are named here.



Not known.



W ELLS (1980) gives a probable sexual maturity at 4-6 months after the metamorphosis at. Whether the cubs he observed, who left the water in May, actually had already grown up in September, just because none juvenile animals were more detectable remains questionable. In any case, Colostethus talamancae grow very slowly and only reach sexual maturity after 10 to 12 months (O STROWSKI , personal observation).


Skin poisons:

Unlike most non-toxic, cryptically-colored Colostethus species, the skin contains C. panamensis tetrodotoxin , a strong neurotoxin (D ALY ET AL ., 1994). D ALY and his research team were able to detectconcentrations of 0.3 to 1.2 μg toxin per frog skin . The LD 50 of tetrodotoxin is 8-20 μg / kg. C. panamensis is thus the only species within the family Dendrobatidae that has been proven despite cryptic he stain is highly toxic. In contrast to other dendrobatid poisons, which are taken up and enriched with small arthropods (S APORITO ET AL ., 2004), the synthesis or accumulation of tetrodotoxin in the frog skin is not yet understood. However, it may be a symbiosis with bacteria that produce the poison.


Clutch and larvae


Features of scrim:

The eggs, according to HESELHAUS (1988), comprise 20-30 eggs.


Characteristics larvae:

C. panamensis larvae have only a small yolk sac. Nevertheless, they still grow significantly on the back of the dam during the rather long transport time. A length increase of up to 40% could be observed (W ELLS , 1980). Many other poison dart frogs transport their larvae over several days on the back before the larvae in phytotelmata are discontinued and usually the larvae grow significantly during this time. O STROWSKI was also able to observe this phenomenon in Dendrobates auratus , Ranitomeya imitator and also Phyllobates lugubris . W ELLSsuspected that the larvae eat when the female is in the water to absorb moisture. Other speculations are that the larvae feed on the skin of the parent or that the skin even produces certain nutrients for larval nutrition. But it could also be a pure water absorption and consequent stretching of the cells, which leads to the growth of the larvae. Precise observations or investigations of this phenomenon are not yet available.


Development periods:

Like the eggs of most Dendrobatidae, the eggs probably need 12-16 days depending on the ambient temperature. Young animals end the metamorphosis with a head-trunk length of 12-15 mm, grow rapidly and reach this after 4 to 6 months adult e stage (W ELLS , 1980).



The larvae are  omnivorous and feed in nature mainly from detritus , which accumulates in calmer places in the stream. The larvae are hardly aggresive and not cannibalistic predisposed. With artificial rearing the larvae can be kept together well and feed with usual Zierfischfuttertersorten.


Behavior (ethology) :


General behavior:

The species is pronounced  riparin ( GANT , 2004). Populations are found only along small or medium streams. The animals are diurnal. In case of disturbances, they often flee directly into the water and swim and dive quite well (O STROWSKI , personal observation).



W ELLS (1980) extensively documented the interesting territorial behavior of a population of C. panamensis over a period of several months. In summary, the most important findings are reproduced here. Both females and males form areas and defend them against invaders. However, males occupy larger areas than females. Both sexes show aggressive behavior towards conspecifics regardless of gender. Thus, females could be observed, the males expelled from their territory, as well as males not receptive e female displaced by staples and pressing. The males defend their territories throughout the day by constantly shouting in elevated position on stones. The males are clearly visible and quite conspicuous, as their mostly brilliant white colored bones are clearly visible. These acoustic and visual signals serve to ward off intruders and attract receptive females. If another animal invades the occupied area, the next level of territorial defense takes place. This second level of aggressive behavior starts in males with a reputation of a certain type. In most cases, this so-called "encounter call" suffices to intimidate the adversary or to induce receptive females to react. Only when the invading animal does not leave the area or does not recognize itself as a spawning female, it comes to body contact by jumping. In equally strong animals, this can also come to wrestling, where the animals try to throw each other off the stone or to push the opponent to the ground. Revierbesitzende females behave a little differently because they produce no defense call. They immediately go up to the intruder and usually jump at it immediately. It was found that more females could be observed, the males were driven out by staples, as males clung to the females. Interspecific aggression (cross species) could also be observed. male In equally strong animals, this can also come to wrestling, where the animals try to throw each other off the stone or to push the opponent to the ground. Revierbesitzende females behave a little differently because they produce no defense call. They immediately go up to the intruder and usually jump at it immediately. It was found that more females could be observed, the males were driven out by staples, as males clung to the females. Interspecific aggression (cross species) could also be observed. male In equally strong animals, this can also come to wrestling, where the animals try to throw each other off the stone or to push the opponent to the ground. Revierbesitzende females behave a little differently because they produce no defense call. They immediately go up to the intruder and usually jump at it immediately. It was found that more females could be observed, the males were driven out by staples, as males clung to the females. Interspecific aggression (cross species) could also be observed. male because they do not produce a defense call. They immediately go up to the intruder and usually jump at it immediately. It was found that more females could be observed, the males were driven out by staples, as males clung to the females. Interspecific aggression (cross species) could also be observed. male because they do not produce a defense call. They immediately go up to the intruder and usually jump at it immediately. It was found that more females could be observed, the males were driven out by staples, as males clung to the females. Interspecific aggression (cross species) could also be observed. maleC. panamensis also expelled male Silverstoneia flotator from their sphere of influence. Both species show a very similar defensive response, which probably leads to such superartistic interactions. In these observations, the meanings of the call to Anuren to show territories and avoid unnecessary contact between opponents. 
Interestingly, the social structure of W ELLS changedexamined population during the year. There is a clear difference between dry and wet periods. Within the dry period, the territories of males and females are limited to the immediate vicinity of the residual water. The areas then border directly on the neighboring areas. During the rainy season, the size of the males increases. These then occupy areas further away from the water, which also do not always border on the territories of other animals. In contrast, at the height of the rainy season, the territories of the females partially dissolve completely. The territories of males and females seem to have different functions depending on the season. While the females and males in the dry period probably occupy mainly areas to access to food and wet retreats, this changes significantly in the rainy season. While female areas tend to be dissolved, males grow in size. Males now occupy areas to ensure reproductive success and to monopolize females. However, females now find food and sufficient moisture everywhere and thus need only small or even no more areas.



Courtship behavior:

The information given here also refers to the detailed work of W ELLS (1980): 
If a female enters the territory of a male, this first changes his call type fromAnzeigeruf to the defense call. On receptive the female now stops or turns directly to the male. This then switches back to the display call and approaches to 1 - 2 mm the female. Often the sound bubble touches the female while calling. If the female persists, the male orbits the female with staccato movements, even climbing over it and touching her body with her forelegs. This touch phase can take a few seconds to several minutes. The male takes a breeze from the female and waits in the distance calling the female. With constant stopping and shouting, the male leads the female, which is about 15 cm apart, to the preferred oviposition site in the leaf layer or in moist rock crevices. There, the male climbs on the female, clutching her head with her forelegs and pressing her fingers under her chin. This so-called head amplexusis known only for the family Dendrobatidae. In this position the animals release their sperm and eggs. The mating success of a male is apparently relatively low. Of the 30 observed sex encounters none resulted in a successful mating. 67% of the meetings ended with escape of the (unreceptive?) Female, 11% with attacks of the female on the male. And in 22% of the cases, the female simply ignored the male. Obviously, the females are rarely receptive and not only penetrate into the territory of a male with mating intentions. The time between the recaptures of a female carrying larvae again was quite high at 61 - 260 days and supports this thesis.
The majority of mating took place at Cerro Campana at the beginning of the rainy season in May and June. At the height of the rainy season (July - October), when the streams were heavily streaming, the pairings receded. However, except in April, pairings occurred every month.

Brood care behavior:


In C. panamensis , only the female takes care of the brood care. It irrigates and guards the eggs for about 14 days. After hatching the larvae, the female sits in the jelly mass and all larvae snake on their backs (H ESELHAUS , 1988). According to W ELLS (1980), the female then transports the larvae usually together in quiet, shallow areas of the inhabited streams and not in phytotelmata. W ELLS reports on up to 40 larvae transported simultaneously. Normally, however, there are less than 35 tadpoles. Often the larvae remain on the back of the mother for several days (up to 9 days). Females do not always settle the larvae at the same time. The brood care ends after the weaning of the larvae.

Larval female of the species Colostethus panamensis

Utterance (vocalization):

The name of C. panamensis is one

Trill reputation

to L ÖTTERS ET AL . (2003). The reputation is due to the long breaks between the singles graden but rather as a result of single or multiple whistles and not as a real trill (see sound file). W ELLS , (1980) distinguishes between three types of calls: 1.Anzeigeruf(Advertisement Call) Individual call with 2-5 notes of 60 ms duration and 3200 - 4500 Hz. These individual whistles are grouped in call sequences which can contain hundreds of individual calls (trills). This call type is used to attract the females and the  Revierabgrebrebung 2. Defense call (encounter call): single whistle as 1. but about 200 ms long. This call type is used to keep other males from entering their own area. 
3. Close-range encounter call: soft chirping of about 2500 HZ, will be shortly before the fight of males and! Females given.




Type find location of the first description

"El Valle de Anton in the northwest corner of Panama province." (F ROST , 2004)





Pacific and Atlantic side Zentalpanamas to Colombia (PN Natural Los Katios, Departemento Chocó). Proven according to IUCN (2004) in Panama in the provinces of Veraguas, Coclé, Panama, San Blas, Darien and also on the island of Coiba and the Azuero peninsula. The species inhabits primary forests up to 850 m in height.


W ELLS (1980) study area was located at 800 m altitude on the slopes of Cerro Campana in the province of Panama. The animals lived here in narrow ravines along stony little streams. O STROVSKI(personal observations) visited similar biotopes at the place El Valle de Anton (type locality). The localities were also at about 600 - 800 m altitude. The animals were also found here only along small and medium streams with teilise quite high flow rate. The streams were mostly shaded. The shores rose steeply, and the adjacent forest floor was covered with rocks, dense foliage, and cabbage. The brooks led partly after rains a lot of water, while in the dry season almost completely dried up and only small ponds and rivulets left, around which then the animals concentrated. W ELLS(1980) also made similar observations of population structure during dry and wet season.

High valley of El Valle de Antón. Location of Colostethus panamensis, Silverstone flotator and S. nubicola. Panama, Panama Province

The biotope of Colostethus panamensis near Portobelo 

The biotope of Colostethus panamensis near Portobelo 

In the dry season, small rivulets are the retreat area of ​​C. panamensis. El Valle. Panama, Panama Province.

 Narrow stream near El Valle, biotope of C. panamensis. In the rainy season there is a strong current in the streams. Panama, Panama Province.

The riparian vegetation of the streams is partly very dense in sunny areas and spans the stream bed. El Valle. Panama, Panama Province.

Semi-wet Pacific Rainforest at Cerro Campana. Habitat of several species of the subfamily Colostethinae. 


Like other heights in Central America, C. panamensis occurs along both sides of the Cordilleras (see also Oophaga vicentei and O. arborea). Although the main distribution is 600-800 m, populations occur in higher elevations (El Copé, 1200 m) and also in the lowlands (canal zone, 350 m). As a result, the populations are exposed to different climates. While at lower altitudes there are hardly any daily fluctuations (2-3 ° C) and almost no annual fluctuations of the temperature, at higher altitudes temperatures of 10 ° C can occur on clear nights. Since the animals live on shady, mostly cool streams (20 - 22 ° C), they are rarely exposed to air temperatures above 24 ° C. Lowland populations live at max. 25 - 26 ° C. The humidity is very high along the water of leading streams (98%) and quite constant. On the Pacific side, however, from November to April, there is a pronounced drought, in which the streams are partially dry. Now the temperatures rise slightly and the humidity drops. The animals now retreat to the water's edge and also restrict their calling activity (WELLS , 1980).

 Pacific influenced climate of the middle layers with dry period. 

Attitude in the terrarium :


Terrarium / Facility:

Rainforest terrarium from 70 cm x 50 cm x 50cm. Automatic irrigation and fog system recommended. C. panamensis is a soil dweller and barely climbs. A water part and a small watercourse with medium sized stones (diameter 10 cm) should be present. The males like to sit elevated on the stones in the water from where they also call. Decor with roots and stones. Dense planting with ferns mosses and vine plants. Some spawning places in the form of photo cans or spawning houses should be present.



C. panamensis can be kept at 22-26 ° C air temperature depending on the altitude. Since the animals live directly on the cool water and also rather in the higher situations occur prefer not to keep warm. The water temperature should be 20 - 24 ° C. A night reduction of 2-4 ° C is recommended.



The humidity is very high due to the habitat of the flowing water. 95% - 100%. A watercourse brings a sufficiently humid climate into the terrarium.



Usual small and medium-sized food animals such as Drosophila, micro-crickets (also slightly larger), springtails and meadow plankton. Cultured food animals should be regularly vitaminized, eg with Amivit A according to the recipe of B IRKHAHN (1991).



Good results with 2.1. In larger pools also larger groups. The behavior of the males among each other is very interesting and each animal should have its own stone. Several calling males are beneficial to the spawning stimulant of the female.


Tips for breeding:

Oviposition is usually somewhat protected on smooth stones or plant leaves. The animals also like to use spawning houses and photo containers. The animals operate brood care and always transport sufficient tadpoles into the water. If you attach importance to a large number of larvae, you should remove the eggs early and put in some water in Petri dishes. The larvae are not aggressive and can be reared together in small aquariums at temperatures of 20-24 ° C. They can be raised very well with ornamental fish dry food. You should choose varieties that contain more plant-based ingredients. Rabbit pellets are especially popular, but you can also use dry cat food (attention: higher water pollution). The young are very small, but eat even small Drosophila.

Photos : 

For more information about resources for the above article .. click here 

Madagascar Dart frogs


Aromobatidae :

 South America Dart Frogs -  Species 


Dendrobatidae :

bottom of page