The medical research community has been exploring possible medicinal uses for some poison dart frog venom. They have already developed a synthetic version of one compound that shows promise as a painkiller.

Dendrobatids include some of the most toxic animals on Earth. The two-inch-long (five-centimeter-long) golden poison dart frog has enough venom to kill 10 grown men. Indigenous Emberá people of Colombia have used its powerful venom for centuries to tip their blowgun darts when hunting, hence the genus' common name.

Scientists are unsure of the source of poison dart frogs' toxicity, but it is possible they assimilate plant poisons which are carried by their prey, including ants, termites and beetles. Poison dart frogs raised in captivity and isolated from insects in their native habitat never develop venom.


Poison dart frogs, also called poison arrow frogs, are so named because some Amerindian tribes have used their secretions to poison their darts. Not all arrow frogs are deadly, and only three species are very dangerous to humans. The most deadly species to humans is the golden poison arrow frog (Phyllobates terribilis).

Its poison, batrachotoxin, can kill many small animals or humans. These frogs are found in Colombia along the western slopes of the Andes. Arrow frogs are not poisonous in captivity. Scientists believe that these frogs gain their poison from a specific arthropod and other insects that they eat in the wild. These insects most likely acquire the poison from their plant diet.

In 1999 a Zoo pathologist published his discovery of a then-mysterious infection that was afflicting and eventually killing poison arrow frogs and white’s tree frogs. Through his effort, cutaneous chytridiomycosis was documented for the first time as a vertebrate parasite. The veterinarians along with keepers and pathologists also developed a treatment for the chytrids.

The same antifungal that is used to kill athletes’ foot in humans can be used with the frogs and toads.

The frogs eat many kinds of small insects, including fruit flies, ants, termites, young crickets, and tiny beetles, which are the ones scientists think may be responsible for the frogs' toxicity. Poison dart frogs live in the asian forests of srilanka and india.