Oophaga 'Escudo de Veraguas'


Bauer, 1994

Oophaga is a genus of small to mid-sized Dendrobatid containing 9, possibly 10* highly variable species. These frogs occur in countless colors, color combinations and patterns, ranging in size from 17-38 cm (approx. 0.67-1.5”) snout to vent depending on the species and locale.  To date, the species are considered as follows:

arborea (Myers, Daly, and Martinez, 1984)
Escudo de Veraguas (Schmidt, 1857)*
granulifera (Taylor, 1958)
histrionica (Berthold, 1845)
lehmanni (Myers and Daly, 1976)
occulator (Myers and Daly, 1976)
pumilio (Schmidt, 1857)
speciosa (Schmidt, 1857)
sylvatica (Funkhouser, 1956)
vicentei (Jungfer, Weygoldt, and Juraske, 1996)[1]

Oon: Greek, meaning “egg”, phagein: Greek, meaning “eat”.   Egg-eater describes the obligative larval feeding behavior of all of the species in this genus.

 Pacific slopes of the Andes and adjacent lowlands to Central America [2] at elevations below 1,200 m (3,900 ft)).[3]

Breeding Behavior
Of all of the Dendrobatids Oophaga demonstrate the most complex parenting behaviors.  After egg deposition, the male visits and watches over the clutch, keeping it moist with water collected in his cloaca.  Once the eggs begin to hatch, the female takes over, coaxing one tadpole at a time onto her back.  She will transport each of them to phytotelmata (water-retaining plants such as bromeliads) or similar, ensuring that no two are deposited in the same pool of water.   She will continue to visit each tadpole, backing into the pool and encouraged by the tadpoles’  “begging behavior” (vigorous tail wagging, vibrating and nudging), she will deposit an egg into the water for it to eat.  The nutritive eggs left by the mother are the only food that Oophaga tadpoles will accept until they emerge as a newly morphed froglets.

Oophaga are semi-arboreal, with the exceptions of O. arborea and O. vicentei, which are fully arboreal.

[1] Species authority information (with the exception of Escudo de Veraguas*): Dendrobates.org website@http://dendrobates.org.

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

[3] Taran et al., Phyllogenetic Systematics of Dart-Poison Frogs and Their Relatives (Amphibia: Anthesphatanura: Dendrobatidae) American Museum of Natural History, 2006

*Some researchers have recently determined that what are known as O. pumilio ‘Escudo de Veraguas’ are genetically distinct from other member species, and thus named them as a separate species.  Not all agree, and opinions remain divided.