|Bumblebee poison dart frog|
|Binomial name||Dendrobates leucomelas|
|Average Size||Up to 4.5 cm (1.8 in)|
|Average weight||8 grams|
|Distribution of species||Venezuela|
The bumblebee poison dart frog (Dendrobates leucomelas) is a species of poison dart frog. It is endemic to Venezuela. Formerly common, its habitat is now in decline and the species is diminishing. D. leucomelas is the most toxic of its genus, the second-most toxic being D. azureus.
The bumblebee poison dart frog can reach 4.5 centimeters (1.8 inches) long from snout to vent, with females being slightly larger and more robust than males. Occasionally, some individuals may grow to 5 cm, but this is fairly rare.
The bumblebee poison dart frog has an irregular pattern of bands, ranging from yellow, through golden, to orange; and black or dark brown. Some degree of variation is possible; a few have a thick, "netted" mesh of yellow or orange with only a few small spots of black on their bodies. Others have thinner bands of yellow on a mainly black body. A few have the black and yellow pattern inverted, particularly the "Guyana banded" morph.
They have glandular adhesive pads on their toes (which aid in climbing and positioning) and, in common with other species in their order, they have a short, protrudable, unnotched, sticky tongue, which extends to catch prey.
Distribution and Habitat
Dendrobates leucomelas was formerly common. It was most frequently seen in Venezuela, but it also had populations in Brazil, Guyana, and Colombia. Recently, however, due to habitat loss and the fungal infection chytridiomycosis, the populations of the bumblebee poison dart frog have diminished and today the species is only found in Venezuela.
The natural habitat of D. leucomelas consists primarily of tropical or subtropical rainforest, where it can be found on the forest floor, or up to 6 meters (19 feet) from the ground. It is somewhat adaptable, being able to adopt an arboreal existence from a terrestrial one quickly, or vice versa. Their ability to live at the edge of rainforests can result in their straying onto beaches and farms; however they often quickly return to the rainforest. Those that do not are often doomed.
PoisonThe bumblebee poison dart frog, like all members of the genus Dendrobates, produces pumiliotoxin, which is stored and manufactured in subcutaneous membranes. D. leucomelas shares with D. azureus the ability to convert pumiliotoxins into allopumiliotoxin 267A, which is one of the most toxic compounds in the Dendrobatidae family. At any one time, a bumblebee poison dart frog can carry approximately three-quarters of a milligram of poison. The lethal dose of allopumiliotoxin is about one milligram or slightly less; therefore, touching an agitated wild leucomelas can have serious consequences.
Although poison dart frogs are known for their skin toxin, used on the tips of arrows or darts of natives, in reality only the species of the Phyllobates genus are used in this manner, although all poison dart frogs have some level of toxicity. In captivity, the frog loses its toxicity as a result of an altered diet.
The bumblebee poison dart frog is diurnal and highly active. Seemingly constantly energetic, bumblebee poison dart frogs are intelligent and curious amphibians with a frequently seen desire to explore changes to their surroundings. In captivity they are among the boldest of the poison dart frogs, making little or no attempt to conceal themselves.
Bumblebee poison dart frogs live in groups of four or five in the wild; captive specimens can be kept in smaller or larger groups. Like D. tinctorius, groups of leucomelas set up established territories and defend them against rival groups. This can result in squabbles involving frogs "pairing off" with frogs from the opposing group, and wrestling.