Ameerega pepperi poison dart frog
Physical description
Binomial nameAmeerega pepperi
HabitatTropical rainforest
Lifespan8-12 years
Average Size4 cm
Average weight5 grams
Conservational Status
IUCN status3.1
Scientific classification
SpeciesA. pepperi
Distribution of speciesPeru

Ameerega pepperi, is a species of poison dart frog. It is endemic to Peru. Formerly considered a morph of A. bassleri, A. pepperi is now considered to be a species in its own right. A. pepperi is the third-largest of the Ameerega genus. Formerly common, its habitat is rapidly declining and it is listed by the IUCN as Vulnerable.

Poison Edit

Ameerega pepperi, as with many of the dendrobatine poison dart frogs, secretes pumiliotoxins through its permeable skin. Although it is not as toxic as some of the other poison dart frogs, it is significantly toxic enough to discourage predation. Touching a poison dart frog can cause painful cramps; if a poison dart frog is eaten the poison can cause temporary local paralysis. Any animal that has eaten a poison dart frog and survived soon learns to associate the bright coloration of the frog with their unpleasant experience and learn to avoid dendrobatids.

Unlike A. bassleri and A. trivittata, Ameerega pepperi cannot convert its pumiliotoxins into allopumiliotoxins.

Physical description Edit

Pepperi closeup

Close-up of a wild specimen.

Ameerega pepperi is the third-largest of the Ameerega genus. Males reach 3.75 cm (1.5 in) in length from snout to vent; the slightly larger females can reach 4.0 cm (1.7 in) long; however, unlike the other poison dart frogs, the size difference between the sexes may not be easily noticeable. A more consistent difference is the more heavily-muscled chest of the females. Males have a more scrawny, bony chest.

It is difficult to decide whether this frog should be referred to as primarily black or primarily yellow (or orange). The frog has a black dorsum, belly, and flanks with two green or yellow lateral stripes on each flank. The head is yellow, orange or red depending on locality and the dorsum is finely peppered with yellow or orange spots, hence both the common and scientific names. The limbs range from sky blue or turquoise to cobalt or even royal blue. The eyes have dark silver irises.

A. pepperi poison dart frog is primarily terrestrial, and as a result its toepads are reduced. Its hind legs and chest, however, are more powerful, especially in females which are more terrestrial than males.

Reproduction Edit

Ameerega pepperi calling

Ameerega pepperi calling

Captive male specimen calling.

A. pepperi, unlike many other poison dart frogs, does not live in specific groups of interacting individuals; instead, it lives in dense populations consisting of separate frogs living in close proximity to one another. As such, there are no "breeding gatherings" and males may court females at any time.

Males set up their positions in a suitable place for egg-laying. The call is a loud but beautiful peep repeated about once every 1-3 seconds for four or five minutes. If a female does not respond, the male will rest for a period of time and then begin calling again. He will repeat this process until a female approaches, at which point his calls become more rapid and emphatic in an attempt to impress "his" female. Once the female is sufficiently impressed, she lays a small clutch of eggs which the male then fertilizes. The female usually departs, leaving the male to care for her eggs. When the eggs hatch, they are carried by a male to a source of water; sometimes a puddle, and sometimes a water-filled tree hollow. The tadpoles are algae-eaters; they feed by scraping algae off of surfaces with their beaks. They are guarded by their father until their development is complete.

In Captivity Edit

Pepperi adapts very well to captivity. Being large Ameerga they are capable of large jumps, but are not quite as "jumpy" as many of the smaller species, and should be provided a relatively spacious terrarium (recommended no less than 24"Lx16Wx16H). Though closely associated with water in nature, running water in the terrarium is not mandatory. A varied diet and good lighting will help these frogs achieve their full potential.

Picture galleryEdit

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