Dendrobates tinctorious azureus
Formally Dendrobates azureus
Dendrobates tinctorious azureus, image by alumroot
Characterised by its arched back and dazzling blue colour, Dendrobates tinctorious azureus is one of the firm favourites for any poison dart frog enthusiast. Recently reclassified as part of the tinctorious species it was previously believed that azureus was a species in its own right, due to its separation for the rest of the tinctorious species during the last ice age and isolated on a small rainforest island, it now resides along a multitude of different morphs and localities. Within azureus, a number of different colour variations exist, with light blue skin, large dark spots on the back to deep blue and virtually nonexistent spots. Some spots may be small and speckled, some large and bold. All however are incredibly beautiful which makes Dendrobates tinctorious azureus one of the ultimate display animals available not just to amphibian keepers, but to the entire pet keeping hobby.
Dendrobates tinctorious azureus as pets
Although poison dart frogs are generally regarded as for the more experienced keepers, for those venturing this colourful world of frog keeping, Dendrobates tinctorious azureus makes a great starting point, if not the ideal one. They are bold, diurnal and active and if the vivarium is set up correctly for their needs, they’ll give you little hassle.
It is important to note that whilst Dendrobates tinctorious azureus in the wild is toxic, it is thought that due to its diet in captivity this capacity to produce toxic secretion has been lost, if not severely diminished. The frog’s wild diet consists of poisonous insects, which are believed to enable Dendrobates tinctorious azureus to develop its toxic skin, although amongst other poisonous dart frogs it ranks fairly low down in terms of strength. It’s certainly nowhere near the deadly toxicity level of Phyllobates Terribillis, from which the name poison dart frog originates. This said, caution is advised when handling Dendrobates tinctorious azureus, which should only be done if extremely necessary anyway. Please make sure your hands are washed thoroughly.
As briefly mentioned, Dendrobates tinctorious azureus inhabits a small rainforest island. Its location is in Suriname and extends down through the northern parts of Brazil, surrounded by the Sipalwini Savannah, which means that population of the species are unable to migrate away from this rainforest island. The status of Dendrobates tinctorious azureus is listed as vulnerable, so it is of vital importance that you purchase captive bred specimens and not those caught illegally form its native habitat.
Dendrobates tinctorious azureus housing
Key to the success of keeping this Dendrobates tinctorious azureus is providing an appropriate vivarium setup. Get this right and you’ll be able to relax knowing that your frogs are comfortable and stress free. Being a largely terrestrial species floor space is of far more importance than height. That said, Dendrobates tinctorious azureus is an incredibly accomplished climber when it wants to be, being able to traverse 90 degree climbs and even sheer glass walls. Most of the time, however, they will spend their time on the vivarium floor, hunting down prey and hopping in and out of plants and leaf litter, all of which should be provided, along with various other hiding places to make them feel safe and secure. A vivarium in which hiding places are easily accessible will encourage your frogs to be much bolder, knowing the can quickly retreat to a hiding place should they feel threatened or sense any potential dangers.
Dendrobates tinctorious azureus, image by NLM - FOTOS
Appropriate size housing tends to be a matter of personal opinion, some keepers have been known to successfully keep and even breed this species in spaces as small as 18x 18x18inches but much larger is generally advisable. Go as big as you can, with 36 x 18 x 18 inches, or equivalent square footage being a good approximate starting point.
Live plants should be used as they help to create a more natural environment, increase humidity and improve air quality. There are specialist retailers which provide tropical plants suitable for the dart frog vivarium, grown free from fertilisers and pesticides which are deadly to your frogs. If purchasing from elsewhere, take the necessary steps to make them frog safe, clean the roots with fresh water, replant in a substrate free from any added chemicals whilst also giving the leaves a good wash. Do no replant for a week if adding with frogs.
Due to the humidity requirements of your frogs, the plants will need to be able to meet the strict conditions, hence using specialist retailers. Bromeliads are perfect and incredibly attractive; however, they are epiphytic, meaning they are grown up high and free from substrate. You can plant these by pressing their stolon into your background, they will soon use their roots to firmly plant themselves and produce a wonderful sense of rainforest ambience, not to mention hiding places for your frogs. You’ll also want to plant climbers, some foliage plants and for low light areas, ferns make fantastic cover and decoration. As with all plants, individual care varies so make sure you research each specimen carefully.
As previously mentioned, leaf litter is vital to provide hiding areas for your Dendrobates tinctorious azureus, not only this, but they provide a haven for isopods and similar tiny creatures which are not only a great food source but will happily digest any excess waste your Dendrobates tinctorious azureus produce, helping to make your vivarium the ideal mini ecosystem. You’ll want something that can withstand the humidity, oak, almond and magnolia leaves are the ideal candidates, if collecting locally, avoid areas with native amphibian populations to avoid the spread of parasites and disease to your vivarium. You’ll also want to give them a good clean under boiling water.
Coconut shells cut in half with a small entrance cut out make really good shelter, a potential deposit site for eggs and a place to settle down for the evening. But use your imagination, anything that is safe can be utilised.
Bogwood, driftwood and tree branches all help to decorate and increase that rainforest feel you’re looking for, again, make sure they’re all clean and/or completely frog safe. The last thing you want is an elaborate rainforest vivarium ruined by a simple mistake.
With the correct setup, the only cleaning you will need to perform will be to clear dirty glass.
Once covered in leaf litter, the substrate matters little to the frog’s wellbeing, it is merely an aid to grow plants and provide drainage. With the vast majority of plant species available any substrate that provides suitable drainage combined with enough water to retention to meet the plants moisture needs will be ideal. Medium grade orchid bark is a good, firm starting point, anything smaller or mixed with the commonly selected coir/coconut fibre retains too much water, and your plants will simply drown and eventually rot away. There are of course, multiple different substrate mixes, some featuring tree fern fibres, sand, clay, feel free to research different mixtures and ideas to get the best from your plants. Ultimately it’s the right amount of drainage/moisture retention you’re searching for.
Under the substrate layer there should be an area known as the drainage layer, this is where all your excess water will drain into from the substrate. Options include a layer of hydroleca covered in any non degradable material which prevents the substrate mixing with your hydroleca, weed netting, old net curtains, even thin pillowcases will work. You will also need a place to get rid of the excess water; otherwise your drainage layer will soon fill up. Either create a small pool in the corner of the vivarium by removing substrate and leaving the drainage area exposed, being sure to make this frog safe or you can pre drill your vivarium and make a drainage hole.
Humidity, temperature and lighting
Generally, no extra heating requirements are needed for the successful keeping of Dendrobates tinctorious azureus. A daytime temperature of between 70-80f is sufficient, with around 73-77 being ideal. Night time temperatures can drop to around 65f. Care should be taken in the winter months or particularly cold nights to monitor the temperature and ensure it doesn’t get too low, the use of a heat mat may be required, but don’t use heat bulbs as these, whilst adequately raising the temperature, also drastically lower the humidity.
Lighting needs to provide a day and night cycle, 12 hours on and 12 hours off is a good starting point, some people like to imitate the winter and summer months by increasing the length of night and day time depending on season. This is up to the individual keeper. Try to provide lighting that’s the right colour temperature for your plants, anything in the 6500k range is sufficient for growing most tropical species, remember that ferns like it relatively shady, so if you’re using a lot of these make sure they’re partly covered by other light loving types e.g. bromeliads.
Humidity needs to be high; this is one part you need to get spot on. The last thing you want is your Dendrobates tinctorious azureus to dry out. Inhabiting the forest floor these frogs like a general humidity range of at least 80% stretching all the way up to 100%. It’s worth considering investment in an automated misting system as, depending on the amount of ventilation in your vivarium, it may need spraying more than a few times a day. Naturally, this could be an issue if you’re working during the day and can’t attend to it via hand misting. This is why it is vital to make sure your vivarium is set up and running smoothly before the introduction of Dendrobates tinctorious azureus, the vivarium must remain at a constant relative humidity of above 80%. Adding a small water area is optional, but you certainly shouldn’t rely on this to make up for lack of humidity.
Feeding Dendrobates tinctorious azureus
A small frog such as a Dendrobate needs appropriately sized food and in the case of Dendrobates tinctorious azureus this means very small food. They certainly don’t like to tackle large prey so fruit flies will make up the bulk of their diet. These can either be purchased via a number of online suppliers on a regular basis or you can begin to purchase and breed your own, by far the more cost effective method and relatively easy once you have enough practice. Here’s a quick recipe for media in which your fruit flies will reproduce, it’s probably a good idea to practice with a few cultures before you think about actually buying your frogs.
Add half a teaspoon of yeast and half a teaspoon of sugar to a small vented container, mix with half a cup of Ready Brek (or cheap alternative) and then add enough orange juice to produce a paste like consistency. Simply add around hundred fruit flies and wait, leaving the container at around 25c for a few weeks and as if by magic, you’ll have hundreds more fruit flies ready for feeding and to start your next culture with (alternatively see our more detailed fruitfly culture page). There are a few different species available, try each and see how your frogs get on with them, Dendrobates tinctorious azureus will however happily take the larger fruit fly species such as Drosophila hydei.
Dendrobates tinctorious azureus, image by mcamcamca
Breeding Dendrobates tinctorious azureus
At around 12 months of age, Dendrobates tinctorious azureus will be ready to breed, however, the first few attempts may result in weak tadpoles or unfertilised eggs. Don’t give up, after a few practice attempts you’ll encounter successful breeding. When looking for signs of breeding activity you’ll first notice the female following the male around the vivarium. She will then begin to stroke him with her front limb and eventually he will lead her to an area where the eggs are laid and fertilised. Once the eggs are fertilised you can remove them from the vivarium, tadpoles can be raised either communally or individually, although raising communally may result in hormone limiting. They should be fed regularly with speciality tadpole mixes and fish flakes, try to avoid a diet based on algae.
Your tadpoles should take somewhere around the 3 month mark to morph. They should be fed springtails and smaller fruit fly species such as D. Melanogaster and ideally be raised in large groups, around 6 plus. Obviously, you should ensure your frogs are of a good size and feeding well before considering to pass or sell them on.
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