Adelphobates quinquevittatus
The Rio Madeira Poison Frog

Steindachner, 1864 (See etymology)

Family:   Dendrobatidae
Genus:   Adelphobates
Species: quinquevittatus

Adelphobates quinquevittatus is a small frog that has a shiny black dorsum with 5 whitish-cream to electric greenish-blue lateral lines.  The limbs are bright orange peppered with black when young and fade slightly with age.  As this happens, bright orange flash marks become more visible where the limbs meet the body (the axilla and groin areas).  The ventral area is a striking whitish-cream to light, grayish-green with bold black spotting and reticulations.

A. quinquevittatus ranges throughout the Rio Madeira drainage and Rondônia of western and northwestern Brazil, convergent rainforests of Ecuador, Columbia, Peru, and Bolivia.

Quinquevittatus:  Latin, meaning five-lined
The nomen nudem Dendrobates quinquevittatus is attributed to Fitzinger and Tschudi in 1857; however, it was later “formally” described as Dendrobates tinctorius var. quinquevittatus by Austrian zoologist, ichthyologist and herpetologist Franz Steindachner in 1864, who is considered to be this species’ authority.[1]  Some attributable synonyms are as follows:

  • Dendrobates quinquevittatus (Fitzinger and Tschudi Jan, 1857)
  • Dendrobates tinctorius var. quinquevittatus (Steindachner, 1864)
  • Dendrobates quinquevittatus (Silverstone, 1975)
  • Ranitomeya quinquevittata  (Bauer, 1988)
  • Adelphobates quinquevittatus (Grant, Frost, Caldwell, Gagliardo, Haddad, Kok, Means, Noonan, Schargel & Wheeler, 2006)

Since its introduction to western science, A. quinquevittatus has been considered to be a morph of various different species, including tinctorius, duellmani, and ventrimaculata.

A. quinquevittatus is very adept at climbing although it is essentially a terrestrial frog, preferring leaf litter and underbrush to the upper reaches of the warm, humid, tropical rainforests that it inhabits.  Like A. castaneoticus, A. quinquevittatus is found in close association with Brazil nut trees, and its preferred tadpole deposition sites are the  water-filled Brazil nut pods that have been chewed open and emptied of their contents by agoutis.  When these are not available, fallen tree hulls, leaf axils and anything else that holds sufficient water will do.

Captive Care and Breeding
A. quinquevittus is stunning little frog that continues to be somewhat rare in captivity.  While not a frog for beginners, it is not a particularly difficult species for anyone that has kept other Dendrobatids successfully.

A. quinquevittatus does best when kept in groups and given plenty of space.  A trio of 1.2, that is, one male and 2 females, would be best kept in nothing smaller than a very well-planted 20 gallon horizontally oriented vivarium. A group of 5 should have at least a 40 gallon vivarium.  Quinquevittatus benefit tremendously from having a thick layer of microfauna–laden leaf litter, which will provide opportunities for constant grazing as well as shelter.  Plenty of vertical landscaping for climbing and affording access to upper reaches of the vivarium should be provided as well. Film canisters or similar for both shelter and egg-laying should be placed throughout the vivarium (on the bottom and at various other levels), and several small water receptacles should be provided for tadpole deposition.  The humidity should be kept high at 80% or above with temperatures ideally ranging between 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit (22-28 degrees Celsius).  A. quinquevittus can be reclusive; however, it is likely feel more secure and be more active in a warm, humid, densely planted vivarium.  If given a satisfactory environment A. quinquevittatus can make a great display species.

Male quinquevittatus have a soft, buzzing call.  As with other Dendrobatids, this will encourage a female to follow him to a deposit site where she will deposit her eggs, and he will subsequently fertilize them.  The clutch sizes are typically small, ranging 2-5 eggs, and will hatch after about 2 weeks.  Adelphobates, unlike their cousins in the Oophaga and Ranatomeya genera, do not deposit unfertilized eggs for their tadpoles to feed on.  If left in the vivarium tadpoles should be watched carefully to see that they are getting enough to eat.  They’ll feed on whatever grows or lands in their container, like drowned fruit flies, leaf litter, algae, and slime.  This can be sufficient in well-established vivaria, however; their diet can be easily supplemented with a high-quality tropical fish food if necessary.  It will also be necessary to refill and/or carefully flush out the containers with fresh water as it can become foul.  When doing this care must be taken to ensure that the tadpoles do not spill out of them.  A. quinquevittus are opportunistic in that they will deposit their tadpoles in anything that holds a suitable amount of water.  Therefore, for most hobbyists bromeliads and other phytotelmata are not recommended unless the hobbyist or breeder can thoroughly monitor and manage tadpole feedings after they’ve been deposited in them.  If at all in doubt or for the sake of ease, use small, removable water containers, remove the tadpoles from the vivarium after they have been deposited, and rear them separately.

Quinquevittatus tadpoles morph into rather large froglets that are carbon copies of the adults, and can consume melanogaster fruit flies at their first feeding. They will become sexually dimorphic (females will be larger and fuller bodied) in as little as 7 months, and may begin breeding in as little as 9 months. A. quinquevittatus can have a lifespan of 12 years or more.

Conservation Status
A. quinquevittus is continually at risk from deforestation, however due to its wide range its conservation is currently classified under Least Concern (LC).[2]

[1] American Museum of Natural History, Amphibian Species of the World 5.6 online Reference

[2] The ICUN Red List of Threatened Species 2013.1