Zimmermann's poison dart frog
Southern Variabilis
Physical description
Binomial nameRanitomeya imitator
HabitatTropical rainforest
Lifespan8-12 years
Average Size1.6 cm (0.6 in)
Average weight1.35 grams
Conservational Status
IUCN status3.1
Scientific classification
SpeciesR. variabilis
Distribution of speciesSouthern Peru, possibly Bolivia

Zimmermann's poison dart frog is a species of poison dart frog. It is endemic to Peru. R. variabilis is an arboreal species, found in the canopy of the Amazon Jungle. It lives alongside Ranitomeya imitator with which it shares a close resemblence.


Zimmermann's poison dart frog's can produce allopumiliotoxins and pumiliotoxins. Its skin secretes pumiliotoxin C, a less-potent version of the pumiliotoxins secreted by the Dendrobates and Oophaga species. Pumiliotoxin C, like other pumiliotoxins, interferes with muscle contraction in the heart and skeletal muscle. The very small amount of poison that the mimic poison dart frog carries is nonetheless enough to cause illness in humans.

Pumiliotoxin is deadly in high concentrations. Pumiliotoxin is weaker than allopumiliotoxin and especially batrachotoxin, with a lethal dose of 2 mg (R. varuabilis carries about a quarter milligram). There are three different types of this toxin A, B and C. The toxin works by affecting the calcium channels. Some of the symptoms of pumiliotoxins are partial paralysis, having difficulty moving, being hyperactive and in some cases it can result in death.

Description Edit

Zimmermann's poison dart frog is very similar to the mimic poison dart frog, but larger, at around 1.6 cm in length. It is also bulkier, having a somewhat pudgy appearence. It also lacks the toe discs present in R. imitator.


Captive specimen.

It is difficult to decide whether R. variabilis should be referred to as primarily black or primarily green or orange. The black areas are usially prominent, rounded, and widely separated by a reticulum of the conteasting color. The secondary colour is often yellowish-green, but may also be lime green, pale green, yellow, orange, or even copper-coloured. The limbs bear tiny, fragmented spots of black separated by a reticulum of blue or green.

R. variabilis can be extremely difficult to differentiate from R. imitator. The former is generally larger than the latter, but there is some overlap in size. A more consistent means of differentiation is the number of spots on the nose (Ranitomeya imitator has two while R. variabilis only has one).



Male transporting a tadpole.

Is a Bromliad-breeding species. They lay eggs on land and then 10-14 days later the tadpoles hatch and are carried to water. They reach high abundances where they are most common. 
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