Almost no other frog is as striking as the bumblebee poison dart frog. These frogs are aptly named bumblebee thanks to their colorful and bright yellow color decorated with black spots and stripes. Poison dart frogs are toxic through their skin secretions, and the bumblebee dart is considered the most toxic of the frogs in the Dentrobates genus.
Quick Facts about the Bumblebee Poison Dart Frog
|Species Name:||Dendrobates leucomelas|
|Temperature:||Best is 70-75° F (21-24° C)|
|Behavior:||Intelligent, active, curious|
|Color Form:||Yellow with black bands & spots|
|Size:||1.5 to 2 inches|
|Diet:||Fruit flies, isopods, springtails|
|Minimum Tank Size:||15 to 20-gallon terrarium for adults|
|Tank Set-Up:||Bark and mulches with live or artificial plants, sphagnum moss|
|Compatibility:||Male/female pairs and only with other bumblebee dart frogs|
Bumblebee Poison Dart Frog Overview
The bumblebee poison dart frog comes from Venezuela. Its natural habitat is typically in subtropical or tropical rainforests on the forest floor and up to 20 feet from the ground. They are diurnal, which means they are predominantly active during the day and can be commonly found near pools of water.
Like all poison dart frogs, they have wide and flattened toes that are designed to grip tree branches for climbing, and because the toes aren’t webbed, they aren’t very good at swimming.
These frogs secrete a toxin that is not only poisonous for predators but actually tastes awful. Their colorful skins act as a very effective deterrent so that predators know to avoid all poison dart frogs. In fact, they got the name dart frogs due to Indigenous people dipping darts into the frogs’ toxin for hunting with blowguns.
Bumblebee dart frogs are also considered one of the loudest of the poison dart frogs. They use calls to warn off any predators.
Their Latin name of Dendrobates leucomelas has given the bumblebee dart its very commonly used nickname of ‘leucs.’ They are also known as yellow-headed poison dart frogs and yellow-banded poison frogs.
How Much Do Bumblebee Poison Dart Frogs Cost?
Bumblebee poison dart frogs are easy to breed while in captivity, making them less expensive than other dart frogs. They are also a relatively hardy breed of frog, and combined with their curious and active behavior, they are popular frogs for many herpetologists. They can range in price from $45 and up to $80, depending on size.
Typical Behavior & Temperament
The bumblebee poison dart frog is a very active frog throughout the day. They are energetic and enjoy exploring their surroundings as they’re curious and quite intelligent. They are also considered one of the boldest of the poison dart frogs and don’t attempt to hide or find concealment while in captivity.
Appearance & Varieties
The bumblebee dart frog is quite small and tends to range in size from 1.5 to 2 inches in length. The female frogs tend to be a little larger and rounder than the males but finding a bumblebee poison dart frog at around 2 inches isn’t very common. Females average about 1.5 inches while males are approximately 1.25 inches when adults.
The yellow of the bumblebee dart frog can range from a very bright yellow to orange, but this tends to turn yellow as the frog ages. They are actually black or dark brown in color with three yellow bands or spots.
Their heads are flatter on the top, and they have pointed noses and black eyes. Their feet consist of four toes that are tipped in a type of suction cup that allows for easy gripping.
How to Take Care of the Bumblebee Poison Dart Frog
Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup
Terrarium, vivarium, what exactly is the difference? In a nutshell, a terrarium is designed for plants to flourish, and a vivarium is all about making your pets happy and thriving—plants are not as important.
The enclosure itself should be at least 10 gallons if you have a couple of babies, but for a pair of adults, you’re best with a 15 to 20-gallon tank. You’ll want something that is also tall enough to allow your frogs to climb, and the lid should be partially or fully screened. Otherwise, the tank should be fully enclosed as this will help keep the humidity levels high—more on that later.
Substrate is essentially the surface on which your frog will live its life. For the bumblebee poison dart frog, a suitable substrate should be moist and typically include sphagnum moss as well as types of barks and mulches. Adding some loose leaves as well as plants will give the frogs a place to take cover.
Water and Humidity
First of all, your frog will need a source of water that should come in the form of a shallow but wide water bowl. Your bumblebee dart frog should be able to immerse itself into it but also be able to keep its head above the surface. Don’t use tap water but opt for spring or bottled water instead as you’ll want to avoid anything that contains contaminants, and be sure to keep the water clean. Frogs absorb the water through their skin, so the occasional misting would be ideal.
Humidity is essential for these frogs! The optimal conditions must provide them with over 80% humidity, but closer to 100% humidity is best.
Temperature and Lighting
The temperature should be kept at about 72 to 80° Fahrenheit throughout the day and no less than 70° F overnight. Under no circumstances should the temperature be over 85° F as it can prove fatal for your frog, so continuously monitor the temperature in your vivarium.
Because poison dart frogs live on the forest floor, they don’t require a lot of light—usually just enough so they can see their food. You can look at using a 20-watt fluorescent light for a 10 to 20-gallon tank. Again, be sure that any light source you use doesn’t impact the temperature in the vivarium.
Do Bumblebee Poison Dart Frogs Get Along with Other Pets?
These poison dart frogs can be kept in small or large groups in captivity, and the rule of thumb is your tank should be 10 gallons for each frog. They typically live in groups of 4 or 5 while in the wild.
Female bumblebee dart frogs tend to be aggressive with other females, so it might work better to keep them as pairs when adults. It’s also best to keep your bumblebee with other bumblebees and avoid mixing species.
What to Feed Your Bumblebee Poison Dart Frog
Bumblebee poison dart frogs eat tiny and live insects only. The most common insects for these frogs are flightless fruit flies and small crickets. The fruit flies will need to be essentially cultured by you, but the process is usually easy and relatively inexpensive. A culture will typically include a colony of adult fruit flies, different stages of larvae, as well as food for them, which should all last approximately one month.
Dart frogs should be fed about twice a day when young and once a day as adults. Their food should be dusted with a vitamin and calcium supplement before being fed to your frog. Young frogs might eat about 20 to 30 fruit flies a day, while an adult could eat 50 to 75 per day.
Keeping Your Bumblebee Poison Dart Frog Healthy
Provided you have the right-sized and well-furnished enclosure, the proper humidity, temperature, and food source, your bumblebee poison dart frog can live a long and healthy life. Some of these frogs are known to live as long as 20 years!
Handling your Bumblebee dart should be discouraged. They do lose the toxins on their skin when in captivity—a specific type of ant found in the wild allows the frog to synthesize the toxins when eaten. Without this source of food, they no longer are toxic.
However, bumblebee dart frogs have very delicate skin, and they will become stressed if handled. While the toxins aren’t usually present, it’s best to wash your hands immediately after picking up your poison dart frog.
Bumblebee poison dart frogs are seasonal breeders and might need to undergo a dry period followed by a simulated storm to help induce breeding. This can be accomplished by heavy misting. If you plan on breeding your frogs, it’s recommended that you should have several spots in the enclosure that make for good breeding areas.
The eggs are laid on a broad and smooth leaf and hatch into tadpoles, taking about 60 to 80 days to become young frogs.
Ensure the frogs that you purchase are very strong and healthy as they will make for the best breeders.
Are Bumblebee Poison Dart Frogs Suitable For You?
If you are an experienced poison dart frog owner or are interested in trying it out for the first time, the bumblebee poison dart frog is a fantastic pet. They will keep you entertained as they are active throughout the day, and their gorgeous, eye-catching colors are absolutely splendid!
The maintenance of these frogs isn’t terribly difficult—you just need to be prepared to maintain their habitat and be okay with handling live bugs for their dinner. You should also opt for a guinea pig, cat, or dog if you want a pet that you can physically handle.
Owning a vivarium full of lush plants and the brightly colored bumblebee poison dart frog is a sure way to liven up your own living room and bring a tiny piece of the rainforest into your home.
Featured Image Credit: Undise, Shutterstock
Kathryn was a librarian in a previous lifetime and is currently a writer about all things pets. When she was a child, she hoped to work in zoos or with wildlife in some way, thanks to her all-consuming love for animals. Unfortunately, she’s not strong in the sciences, so she fills her days with researching and writing about all kinds of animals and spends time playing with her adorable but terribly naughty tabby cat, Bella. Kathryn is hoping to add to her family in the near future – maybe another cat and a dog.