The Reasons behind many popular Dart Frog Names
Dart frogs are pretty amazing, and the history or thought behind their common and scientific names are no less interesting! Dart frogs, like most animals, have at least 2 names - their common name and their scientific name. Common names are what we typically use in general conversation (Bumble Bee Dart Frog), while an animal's scientific name is a unique name just for that species, and often based in Latin or Greek (or both!). In this blog, I'll discuss some of the more popular species we work with at Josh's Frogs (all captive bred, healthy frogs for sale!), what their names mean, and where they came from!
Dendrobates leucomelas - the Bumble Bee Poison Arrow Frog
Let's start out with my favorite species - leucs! We'll start out with the easy to pronounce part - their common name. The Bumble Bee Poison Arrow Frog is so named for it's contrasting black and yellow stripes, and their similarity to the aposematic coloration of a bumble bee. All frogs in the family Dendrobatidae (including the common genus of dart frogs, Dendrobates, Phyllobates, Ranitomeya, etc) are collectively known as Poison Arrow Frogs, even though only a few species are actually used to poison arrows.
Now for the tongue twister - Dendrobates leucomelas. Dendrobates literally means 'Tree Walker', in reference to frogs' arboreal habits (although the vast majority of dart frogs are not huge climbers in the traditional sense!). Leucomelas is ancient Greek for white (leuco) and black (melas). When leucomelas were originally described in 1864, it was observed as a preserved specimen that has lost all of it's yellow color to the preservative!
To learn more about the bumble bee dart frog, click here!
Dendrobates tinctorius - the Dyeing Poison Arrow Frog
This species has an interesting historical reference. While early European explorers were meandering through what's now Suriname and Brazil, they were convinced that the source of the brightly colored textiles worn by natives were the result of boiling this species of poison dart frog with the cloth (total BS)! Hence, the 'Dyeing' in Dyeing Poison Arrow Frog refers to the act of dyeing cloth, and is not in reference to the animals mortality!
The scientific name relates to this story, as well. Tinctorius is from the latin ""tingo"", which roughly means ""to soak in dye"". Josh's Frogs strongly recommends against attempting this at home.
If you tinc tincs may be the right frogs for you, click here to learn more!
Dendrobates/Ranitomeya ventrimaculatus - the Amazonian Poison Arrow Frog
My, what a big name for a tiny frog! Frogs of the genus Ranitomeya (formerly Dendrobates) are often referred to as ""thumbnail dart frogs"" due to their tiny size. Ranitomeya has an interesting origin - 'Ranita' is Spanish for ""tiny frog"", and the ""tomey"" thrown in there is in reference to Wil Tomey, a Dutch hobbyist who visited Peru and then wrote an article in a Dutch Herp newsletter calling for a new genus name for Dendrobates reticulatus, and proposed 'Ranitomeya'. Ventrimaculatus can be broken down into it's Latin roots ""ventri"" (venter or stomach) and ""maculatus"" (spotted).
We get off with an easy common name, and I think we deserve it after wading through the genus name. The Amazonian Poison Dart Frog is found in the Amazon River drainage basin. Nice and simple :D
If you'd like to read more about Dendrobates ventrimaculatus, click here!
Phyllobates vittatus - the Golfo Dulce Poison Dart Frog
These are awesome frogs from Costa Rica. Sure, they can be a bit shy, but vittatus are great in groups, easy to breed, and have a nice loud call. To top if off, they have a pretty sweet name too. Phyllobates can be broken down into ""Fyllo"" (leaf) and ""bates"" (walker). Vittatus is latin for ""banded"", referring to the orange/red horseshoe shaped band across the frog's back and head.
The common name is nice and easy, too. The Golfo Dulce Poison Dart Frog hails from the wet, humid forests and lowlands of the Golfo Dulce region in southwest Costa Rica.
If you're virtually certain you're verily interested in vittatus, click here and check them out!
Have a name for a frog, and like to know what it means? Post in the comments below!