Dendrobates leucomelas
Dendrobates leucomelas
(Yellow-banded Poison Dart Frog)
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Dendrobates leucomelas Steindachner, 1864

Common name: Yellow-banded Poison Dart Frog

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: A small, dendrobatid (poison frog), without webbing on its feet, with a SVL (snout-vent length) of 30.5-37.5 mm (1.2-1.5 in) (Silverstone, 1975).  Adult yellow-banded dart-poison frogs are black dorsally with three broad crossbands colored bright yellow, yellow-orange, or orange; black spots or blotches are often present in the crossbands (Silverstone, 1975; Mattison, 1987a).  The yellow or orange limbs often have a variable arrangement of black spots or blotches (Silverstone, 1975).  Adult Dendrobates leucomelas are illustrated by a number of authorities (Silverstone, 1975; Zimmerman[n], 1979; Heusser, 1984; Mattison, 1987b; Davies and Davies, 1997; Lamar, 1997; Zweifel, 1998; Pough et al., 2001).  There are no illustrations of this species' tadpoles.  In Hawaii, Dendrobates auratus, an established exotic dendrobatid (McKeown, 1996), is the only frog similar to D. leucomelas.  While variable in pattern, D. auratus normally does not have three, distinct, broad bands of color (McKeown, 1996; also see the species account titled "Dendrobates auratus (Girard, 1955)" on this website).

Size: snout vent length of 30.5-37.5 mm

Native Range: Dendrobates leucomelas is indigenous to the western Guianan region and the northeastern Amazon Basin of South America, including Guyana, Amazonian Colombia, Venezuela, and extreme northern Brazil (Silverstone, 1975; Hoogmoed, 1979; Duellman, 1999).

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Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: In 1994 a single specimen was collected in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, U.S. (Bishop Museum Records--1997 output, Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii).

Means of Introduction: Unknown; but it is probably a pet release.

Status: Not established.

Impact of Introduction: None.  However, should any of these insectivorous frogs establish a population in a state that has no indigenous, and only nonindigenous species of frogs (Oliver and Shaw, 1953; McKeown, 1996), a further burden would be placed upon the ecology of Hawaii.

Remarks: The taxonomy of D. leucomelas and other Dendrobates has been reviewed or summarized by several authors (Silverstone, 1975; Myers and Daly, 1983; Frost, 1985; Zimmermann and Zimmermann, 1988; Caldwell, 1996; Summers et al., 1999).  Dendrobates leucomelas is a diurnal frog preferring moist or wet, forested, lowland regions (Silverstone, 1977).  Like many members of the genus Dendrobates, they probably derive their skin toxins from the ants that form most of their diet (myrmecophagy:  Caldwell, 1996). Reproduction in D. leucomelas is similar to D. auratus in that females compete for mates, the male parent guards the terrestrial eggs in a moist, sheltered microhabitat, and the father transports tadpoles on his back to small pools of water once they have hatched (Zimmermann and Zimmermann, 1988; Summers, 1992; Crump, 1995).


An effort should be made to ensure that this single specimen from Honolulu is not a misidentified D. auratus.

The yellow-banded dart-poison frog is a popular species in the commercial pet trade (Zimmerman[n], 1979; Mattison, 1987a, b; Zimmermann, 1986; Davies and Davies, 1997).

References: (click for full references)

Caldwell, J. P. 1996. The evolution of myrmecophagy and its correlates in poison frogs (Family Dendrobatidae). Journal of Zoology (London) 240(1):75-101.

Crump, M. L. 1995. Parental care. Pp. 518-567. In: H. Heatwole (editor). Amphibian Biology. Vol. 2. Social Behaviour. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, Australia. 710 pp.

Davies, R., and V. Davies. 1997. The Reptile & Amphibian Problem Solver. [North American Edition.] Tetra Press, Blacksburg, Virginia. 208 pp.

Duellman, W. E. 1999. Distribution patterns of amphibians in South America. Pp. 255-328. In: W. E. Duellman (editor). Patterns of Distribution of Amphibians. A Global Perspective. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 633 pp.

Frost, D. R. (editor). 1985. Amphibian Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographical Reference. Allen Press, Inc. and The Association of Systematics Collections. Lawrence, Kansas. 732 pp.

Heusser, H. R. 1984. Higher anurans. Pp. 397-456. In: B. Grzimek (editor). Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. Fishes II and Amphibians. English [Reprint] Edition. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York. 555 pp.

Hoogmoed, M. S. 1979. The herpetofauna of the Guianan region. Pp. 241-279. In: W. E. Duellman (editor). The South American herpetofauna: Its origin, evolution, and dispersal. Monograph of the Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas (7):1-485.

Lamar, W. W. 1997. The World's Most Spectacular Reptiles & Amphibians. World Publications, Tampa. 208 pp.

Mattison, C. 1987a. Frogs & Toads of the World. Facts on File, Inc, New York. 191 pp.

Mattison, C. 1987b. The Care of Reptiles and Amphibians in Captivity. Revised Edition. Blandford Press, London. 317 pp.

McKeown, S. 1996. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians in the Hawaiian Islands. Diamond Head Publishing, Inc., Los Osos, California. 172 pp.

Myers, C. W., and J. W. Daly. 1983. Dart-poison frogs. Scientific American 248(2):120-121, 124-125, 127-133.

Oliver, J. A., and C. E. Shaw. 1953. The amphibians and reptiles of the Hawaiian Islands. Zoologica (New York) 38(5):65-95.

Pough, F. H, R. M. Andrews, J. E. Cadle, M. L. Crump, A. H. Savitzky, and K. D. Wells. 2001 [2000]. Herpetology. Second Edition. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. 612 pp.

Silverstone, P. A. 1975. A revision of the poison-arrow frogs of the genus Dendrobates Wagler. Science Bulletin, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (21):i-iii, 1-55, I-II frontispiece.

Summers, K. 1992. Mating strategies in two species of dart-poison frogs: A comparative study. Animal Behaviour 43(6):907-919.

Summers, K., L. A. Weigt, P. Boag, and E. Bermingham. 1999. The evolution of female parental care in poison frogs of the genus Dendrobates: Evidence from mitochondrial DNA sequences. Herpetologica 55(2):254-270.

Zimmerman[n], H. 1979. Tropical Frogs. [English Translation Edition.] T.F.H. Publications, Inc., Neptune, New Jersey. 93 pp.

Zimmermann, E. 1986. Breeding Terrarium Animals. English-language Edition. T.F.H. Publications, Inc., Neptune City, New Jersey. 384 pp.

Zimmermann, E., and H. Zimmermann. 1988. Etho-Taxonomie und Zoogeographische Artenggruppenbildung bei Pfeilgiftfröschen (Anura: Dendrobatidae). Salamandra 24(2/3):125-160.

Zweifel, R. G. 1998. Frogs & toads. Pp. 76-105. In: H. G. Cogger and R. G. Zweifel (editors). Encyclopedia of Amphibians & Reptiles. Second Edition. Academic Press, San Diego. 240 pp.

Author: Somma, L.A.

Revision Date: 6/28/2002

Citation Information:
Somma, L.A., 2018, Dendrobates leucomelas Steindachner, 1864: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,, Revision Date: 6/28/2002, Access Date: 1/22/2018

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2018]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [1/22/2018].

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