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By zbrinks  September 1, 2012

Phyllobates terribilis is a fairly common poison dart frog in captivity. Terribilis are known for their loud, trilling call, large egg clutches, and very bold nature. Phyllobates terribilis is the most toxic vertebrate on Earth.


Trade Name(s)


Phyllobates terribilis is commonly known as the Terrible dart frog, or the Golden dart frog. Phyllobates terribilis is typically referred to as ‘Terribs‘ by people in the poison dart frog hobby.


Family & Scientific Name


Dendrobatidae; Phyllobates terribilis


Range & Origin :


Small areas on the Pacific coast of Colombia. Because of the small home range of Phyllobates terribilis, it is considered endangered. This makes captive breeding of Phyllobates terribilis even more important


Adult Size:


Adult female Terribilis are typically about 2” long, with males slightly smaller.


Life Span :


Captive life span of Phyllobates terribilis is estimated to be 10-20 years, with individual instances of Terribs living over 20 years reported.


Enclosure :


Generally, poison dart frogs are kept in naturalistic vivaria with live plants and little to no ventilation. Phyllobates terribilis hails from humid tropical rainforests, so replicating that habitat in captivity is ideal. Live plants should be used, and actually help to keep the environment clean. Provide 10 gallons or more of space per frog when adult.


Substrate :


With naturalistic vivaria, substrate typically consists of a 2” base layer of hydroton, followed by substrate barrier, then a well-draining substrate such as ABG mix in a 2” layer. On top of this, long fiber sphagnum is placed in a thin layer, followed by a hearty coating of leaf litter. The substrate can be seeded with various species of microfauna, including springtails and isopods, which are cultured and sold specifically for such applications.


Temperature :


For the most part, Phyllobates terribilis need to be kept above 60F and below 80F, with an ideal temperature in the mid to low 70sF. Although they can tolerate brief cold spells, poison dart frogs are very sensitive to heat. Like other Phyllobates, Phyllobates terribilis  Monitoring temperature is very important – we recommend using a digital thermometer.


Social Structure :


Phyllobates terribilis does fine in groups or pairs.


Diet :


Like most Poison Dart Frogs, Terribs prefer smaller foods less than 1/8” long. Flightless Fruit Flies are an ideal staple food, as they are easy and inexpensive to culture, and available from several online stores, including Other common prey items include pinhead or 1/8″ crickets, bean beetles, springtails, isopods, aphids, rice flour beetles, lesser wax moth larvae, and phoenix worms. It is important to dust each prey item with a vitamin/mineral supplement.


Cleaning :


If housed in a naturalistic vivarium, cleaning is kept to a minimum. As long as water does not saturate the ABG substrate (it will smell like rotten eggs if it does), the substrate needs to be replaced only every 3-5 years. New leaf litter should be added every 6 months or so, as the old leaf litter breaks down. Plants will need to be trimmed to keep them from outgrowing the vivarium, and the front glass can be wiped down with a paper towel to remove any algae or debris that collects there. All of the inside surfaces of the vivarium (ie plant leaves, wood, glass) should be sprayed down with a hand mister once to twice a month.


Handling :


Poison Dart Frogs should not be handled except when they are being moved to or from a vivarium. They are harmless and non toxic in captivity, but household chemicals and oils on your skin can easily harm them.


Conclusion :


Phyllobates terribilis is a very bold species of poison dart frog that does well in groups, has a loud call, and appreciates plenty of cover and a water feature in the vivarium. Terriblis lay large egg clutches and can be a prolific breeder.

3- Phyllobates Terribilis care sheet :

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Phyllobates Terribilis are one of the larger, more bold species of denrobatid frogs. Males will obtain a snout to vent length of 37mm and females are slightly larger at 41mm. They are from the Family Dendrobatidae, and genus Phyllobates, originating throughout Colombia were they are a diurnal species. Unlike most captive Dendrobatid frogs these bold dendrobates will stand proud and not be phased by people looking in through the tank.


Phyllobates Terribilis have only three known colour morphs. The typical morph is a solid yellow coloration, but some individuals may have black toes. The second morph is identical except the colour is orange. The final morph is completely different, the frog is a mint colour and can almost appear white rather than green.



In captivity Phyllobates Terribilis are not toxic, there toxins are produced from their natural diet. There is much research into what part of their diet causes this toxin and it is believed to come from fire ants and other small inverts. Wild caught specimens of P.Terribilis may stay toxic for over 5 years in captivity so extreme care should be taken. 


Phyllobates Terribilis require allot of space, a vivarium of 24x24x24 will house an adult trio. Phyllobates Terribilis are not as terratorial as most Dendrobatid frogs so can happily be kept in groups, providing enough space is provided. They are a stricktly terestrial species that will rarley show interest in leaving the floor,  They are poor climbers but may make use of low accents if an easy route is provided. A well planted Vivarium with plants such as Bromeliads, Begonias, and climbers will make an atractive and natural looking vivarium. Some hides should be provided as well as an area of open space. Live moss will also help with the look as well as keeping the humidity raised. Eco earth or coco husk with a covering of dead leaves, twigs and nut shells make an ideal substrates and should be given drainage by means of a false bottom or a deep layer of  hydroleca. The viavrium should have an escape prof lid constructed of either glass or plastic. Screen style tops should also be covered with glass or plastic panels. This is vital in keeping the humidity raised in the vivarium and will also prevent small prey items from escaping. When choosing the lid of the vivarium it is important to remember that most, if not all the UVB rays will be filtered out by most glass and plastics, so care should be taken in choosing a suitable material.


Although Phyllobates Terribilis naturally inhabit the forest floor under the cover of the tree canopy, they are still subjected to exposure from U.V rays and full spectrum lighting. UVB can be very beneficial to Phyllobates Terribilis, it will aid them in the production of D3 and will help prevent bone disfigurement in juveniles. A 5% tube with a reflector will provide them with substantial exposure and help promote plant growth. Full spectrum lighting may also be beneficial to both frogs and plants, and will contain a level of UVB.


Phyllobates Terribilis are from cool, rainy forests so they  require high humidity's of 80% plus. The vivarium should be misted with de-chlorinated water at least once a day, and never allowed to fully dry out. A temperature some were between 68 and 78 degrees in the day is required, with a drop to around 65 degrees at night. The day time temperature should never be allowed to reach 80 or above as P.Terribilis is very sensative to this, and it may lead to stress or illness.


Phyllobates Terribilis are vicious eaters and will consume foods as large as adult crickets, however crickets and other food items should be sized accordingly depending on the size and age of the frog. Hydei, waxworms and phoenix worms should also be offered to help keep the diet balanced. Offering the correct sized food is important as it will reduce the risk of prolapses and chocking, but P.Terribilis may show no interest in samll prey items so care in selecting the correct size is important to the upkeep of this species. Feeding the right amounts can be a tricky game, feeding should be judged on how many feeder items are consumed within 2 minuets. Adults should be fed every other day, and  Juveniles do best offered food daily but in smaller quantities. Vitamin and mineral supplements are essential, and should be dusted onto the food before it is offered to the frog. It is very important that the supplyments are replaced every six months.


A Very shallow water area should be provided as Phyllobates Terribilis will use it to replenish their natural water reserve, BUT they are very poor swimmers and will drown easily. The area or dish should be changed daily using de-chlorinated water.



Handling should be avoided unless it is vital to the specimens well fare. If you do have to handle then powder free surgical gloves must be worn and frequently misted with de-chlorinated water to stop them drying out. Phyllobates Terribilis do not like or get used to being handled.When keeping P.Terribilis It is important to establish the were the animal came from as wild caught specamins carry a deadly poison called Batrachotoxin, which is potent enough to kill a man.


Phyllobates Terribilis are a bould attractive species of dendrobates that are well suited to the beginner. The non agressive nature and flexable feeding requirments make them an idea first species. WC specamins should e avoided due to there high toxicity and

4- Phyllobates terribilis morphs : 


Mint green :

The largest morph of P. terribilis exists in the La Brea area of Colombia, and is the most common form seen in captivity. The name "mint green" is actually rather misleading, as the frogs of this morph can be metallic green, pale green, or white.


Feared by bureaucrats, lawmakers and the uniformed, ignorance prevails and terribilis (and other phyllobates species) are now banned in the Canadian Provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. Captive bred and raised Phyllobates terribilis do not possess the same toxin profile as their wild counterparts and are completely benign.


These frogs are hardy and make excellent captives. Their bold nature ensures their near constant visibility in the vivarium, and their willingness to take larger food items (up to 3/8" crickets) makes them ideally suited to beginning or experienced keepers alike.

2- Yellow : 


The yellow morph is the reason it has the common name golden poison dart frog. Yellow P. terribilis specimens are found in Quebrada Guangui, Colombia. These frogs can be pale yellow to deep, golden yellow in color. A frog sold under the name "gold terribilis" was once believed to be a deeper yellow P. terribilis. However, genetic tests have proven these frogs to be uniform-colored morphs of Phyllobates bicolor.

3- The yellow Tesoros black-foot terribilis :

4- Orange :


While not as common as the other two morphs, orange examples of P. terribilis exist in Colombia, as well. They tend to be a metallic orange or yellow-orange in color, with varying intensity.

Madagascar Dart frogs


Aromobatidae :

 South America Dart Frogs -  Species 


Dendrobatidae :

Phyllobates genus  :

Introduction .. 

Species :


1- Phyllobates bicolor, also known as the black-legged poison frog, bicolored dart frog  

                                                Part One   ..  Part Two  ..  Part Three 

2-Phyllobates terribilis - the golden frog, golden poison arrow frog, or golden dart frog 

                                               Part One   ..  Part Two  ..  Part Three 

3- Phyllobates vittatus  - The Golfodulcean poison frog or Golfodulcean poison-arrow frog  

                                               Part One   ..  Part Two  ..  Part Three 

4- Phyllobates lugubris - The lovely poison frog or lovely poison-arrow frog

                                               Part One   ..  Part Two ..

5- Phyllobates aurotaenia    ..   Part One   ..  Part Two  ..  Part Three 

Phyllobates genus  :

Introduction .. 

Species :


1- Phyllobates bicolor, also known as the black-legged poison frog, bicolored dart frog  

                                                Part One   ..  Part Two  ..  Part Three 

2-Phyllobates terribilis - the golden frog, golden poison arrow frog, or golden dart frog 

                                               Part One   ..  Part Two  ..  Part Three 

3- Phyllobates vittatus  - The Golfodulcean poison frog or Golfodulcean poison-arrow frog  

                                               Part One   ..  Part Two  ..  Part Three 

4- Phyllobates lugubris - The lovely poison frog or lovely poison-arrow frog

                                               Part One   ..  Part Two ..

5- Phyllobates aurotaenia    ..   Part One   ..  Part Two  ..  Part Three 

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