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The Kid Should See This

Why do poison dart frog dads give their tadpoles piggyback rides?

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Male poison dart frogs nurture their young tadpoles by placing each one in its own tiny pool of water. He does this by carrying each tadpole on his back.

And if the tiny pool begins to dry up, he moves the tadpole to a better location. He just has to remember where he put each tadpole so he can check on them while they grow.

peeking papa
This clip from the BBC’s Seven Worlds One Planet, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, documents how this colorful creature, “no bigger than a human thumbnail,” protects his growing offspring in the Amazon rainforest.

frog tadpole
And this six-week undertaking is a team effort, especially when the tadpoles don’t have access to food like algae, microorganisms, and very small dead insects:

“A female could do something a male cannot. But first, Dad must lead his partner to their hungry tadpole, and Mother deals with the problem. She lays a single unfertilized egg, and her tadpole gets a much-needed meal.”

mother frog laying an unfertilized egg
A bit more from Smithsonian’s National Zoo:

“Poison frogs are commonly called poison arrow and poison dart frogs due to the indigenous community reportedly rubbing their arrow tips on the frogs’ backs before hunting. However, only three species have been documented as actually being used for this purpose, including the golden poison frog, the most toxic of all frog species…

“Poison frogs are known for their beautiful colors, and amphibians that have toxic skin secretions tend to have bright warning colors or patterns. It is theorized that these colors function as a visual warning, a learned response on the part of the predator.”

poison dart frog with a tadpole on its back
Watch these frog videos next:
• The formidable fighting poison dart frog
Tadpoles: The Big Little Migration, a film by Maxwel Hohn
• Raising wood frogs, from eggs to tadpoles to adults in 7 weeks

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