O. pumilio Bastimentos 'Orange'

Oophaga pumilio

Schmidt, 1857

Oophaga pumilio
can be found at elevations from sea level to around 960m (3,149.61 ft)  in the humid premontane rainforests of the Caribbean coast of Central America, ranging from eastern central Nicaragua, through Costa Rica into northwestern Panama (and many of its islands), and south into the lowlands adjoining the Pacific slopes of the Andes. [1] [2]

Pumilio: Latin for “dwarf”.

Known to some as the “strawberry” poison dart frog, pumilio are a small, highly variable, charismatic member of the genus. Colorful, bold and noisy – I find the call of the males to be somewhat cricket-like, what pumilio lack in size they make up in personality.

Once it was not uncommon to name a pumilio (and other Dendrobatids, for that matter) based on morphology, e.g.  “Blue Jeans” for red frogs with blue limbs; however, to keep locales/morphs distinct and to avoid confusion (there are a number of pumilio fitting this basic description) most pumilio are referred to by names assigned to them based on the areas from which they were collected when that information can be known.

To add to the confusion, many pumilio breed true, which is to say that their general coloration remains consistent from generation to generation.  This is not the case with many locales.  For example, the phenotypic variation is so great within the population of one morph on the Panamanian island of Bastimentos that one might assume that they were from different populations.  Breeding two similarly colored adults from this population is likely to yield a spectrum of colored offspring. There are other distinct populations on this same island that do not reflect such variation.

Pumilio seem to thrive throughout their range wherever the temperatures and humidity remain suitable.  This can include highly disturbed areas, in which pumilio can do remarkably well.  They have been known to deposit larvae in discarded beer cans, and are apparently quite abundant in abandoned cacao plantations. [2]

I have observed that both males and females can be aggressive and territorial, and require plenty of space in a large, heavily planted vivarium if more than a pair is to be housed.  I watched one female destroy several clutches of another once she discovered them.  Although this can happen with other Dendrobatids, it often seems that since these are small, colorful, active frogs the inclination is to keep them in groups, which an be done provided the aforementioned conditions are met.


‘Isla Bastimentos’

‘Bastis’ may be the most variable of the pumilio morphs, throwing offspring of many different colors and color combinations.

‘Blue Jeans’

Oophaga pumilio 'Blue Jeans'


I have found these striking little blue frogs to be quite variable in terms of spotting, limb color, and over all color intensity.


Esperanzas are yet another variable pumilio, ranging from bright blue to dark maroon and everything in between.

‘Isla Popa’

I really need to get better shots of these, and I’m working on it.  ‘Popas’ are the most irredescent of any Dendrobatid I have ever seen!

‘Punta Laurent’
aka “Yellow Bellies”

Lime green on top, lemon yellow underneath, yellow-bellies will have varying amounts of black dorsal spotting and bright blue on their feet and/or legs.  Beautiful!

‘Isla San Cristobal’

One of a number of red pumilio morphs with blue legs, ‘Isla San Cristobals’ are prolific breeders as pumilio go, and are among the boldest frogs in my collection!

‘Isla Bastimentos, Salt Creek’

The ‘Salt Creek’ morph from Panama’s Bastimentos Island can be quite variable, with colors ranging from golden yellows and oranges to bright reds and reddish-bronze.  This pair is a stunning, nearly fluorescent pinkish-reddish-orange and pure white underneath!  The female also has white feet, while the legs on the male are coppery-bronze with black flecks.

[1] 1994 Walls, J. G.:  Jewels of the Rainforest: Poison Frogs of the Family Dendrobatidae. 1994, J.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, New Jersey.

[2] Lötters, S; Jungfer, KH; Henkel, FW; Schmidt, W: Poison Frogs Biology, Species and Captive Husbandry, 2007 Chimaira Buchhandelsesellschaft mbH