You know with a scientific name like Phyllobates terribilis there’s something “terrible” about the golden poison frog. It’s small – the length of a paperclip – and unassuming, but this tropical frog actually packs a deadly punch. It’s the most poisonous of all frogs and September’s Staff Pick of the Month. The golden poison frog was nominated by Mitchell H., a grounds attendant at the Vancouver Aquarium. He walks around the Aquarium all day as part of his job, so Mitchell says he gets a chance to see these animals about four times a day. “I love that it’s so confident and always out in the open. It’s like ‘Eat me, I dare you.’”
The thing is no one, if they know what’s good for them, would ever dare. This frog is so toxic that it’s used by native Colombians to poison their blow-gun darts. Despite how untouchable this frog seems, it’s not immune to human activity. Golden poison frogs are only found in a small area of Colombia, and people continue to encroach on their sensitive habitat. The golden poison frog is considered endangered. You might be wondering what it’s like to handle the most poisonous frog on the planet. The golden poison frogs at the Aquarium are actually not toxic because they were bred in human care. In the wild, these frogs acquire their poison from the animals they eat, like ants, termites and beetles. Here, they’re fed non-poisonous food items, so they don’t develop toxins in the same way. Mitchell says he’s been “obsessed” with frogs since he was a kid, but never thought he’d ever get the chance to see a golden poison frog up close. Now he’s had the chance and you can too – in the Frogs Forever? gallery.
Written by Karen Horak, writer-editor, content and digital experience at the Vancouver Aquarium.