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Dendrobates auratus 'Costa Rican Green and Black'

  Dendrobates auratus ‘Costa Rican Green and Black’ is a great beginner dart frog. Auratus do great in pairs or groups, and are very passive and easy tempered. Auratus can be a bit shy, but a well planted vivarium will quickly make them more bold. Costa Rican auratus are among the most bold auratus in the hobby.

Widely available as captive bred animals, Dendrobates auratus 'Costa Rican Green and Black' are commonly sold at 2-3 months of age. Auratus do not develop their adult color and pattern until 6-8 months out of the water.

Trade Name(s) Dendrobates auratus ‘Costa Rican Green and Black’ is commonly just known as auratus in the hobby. Auratus are also known as the green and black poison dart frog. Family & Scientific Name Dendrobatidae; Dendrobates auratus Range & OriginCosta Rica. Like most auratus,  Dendrobates auratus ‘Costa Rican Green and Black’ was not imported with any specific locale data, so the morph’s exact lineage data is unknown. This variety of  Dendrobates auratus was introduced into the hobby in the 1990s. Adult SizeAdult female  Dendrobates auratus typically measure about 1.5-2″ long, with males being slightly smaller.  Dendrobates auratus ‘Costa Rican Green and Black’ is one of the larger forms of auratus.

Adult Dendrobates auratus 'Costa Rican Green and Black', female on left, male on right. It can be difficult to visually sex auratus until they are a couple years old, although they may breed as young as 10 months.


Dendrobates auratus 'Costa Rican Green and Black' generally lay egg clutches once every 10-21 days, consisting of 3-7 eggs. These eggs take approximately 2 weeks to hatch.

Life SpanCaptive life span of  Dendrobates auratus is estimated to be 10-20 years, with individual instances of auratus living over 20 years reported. A close friend has had his auratus for over 27 years, and they were wild collected adults when he acquired them. Enclosure


Dendrobates auratus, like all poison dart frogs, are best kept housed in a naturalistic vivarium.

Generally,  poison dart frogs are kept in  naturalistic vivaria with  live plants and little to no ventilation.  Dendrobates auratus hails from humid tropical rainforests, so replicating that habitat in captivity is ideal.  Live plants should be used, and actually help to keep the environment clean. Provide 10 gallons or more of space per frog when adult. Dendrobates auratus does seem to enjoy a water feature.


Dendrobates auratus 'Costa Rican Green and Black' taking shelter in a water feature. It is common for auratus to dive under water when threatened. They can stay submerged for several minutes at a time.

SubstrateWith naturalistic vivaria, substrate typically consists of a 2” base layer of  hydroton, followed by  substrate barrier, then a well-draining substrate such as  ABG mix in a 2” layer. On top of this,  long fiber sphagnum is placed in a thin layer, followed by a hearty coating of  leaf litter. The substrate can be seeded with various species of microfauna, including  springtails and  isopods, which are cultured and sold specifically for such applications. TemperatureFor the most part,  Dendrobates auratus needs to be kept above 60F and below 80F, with an ideal temperature in the mid to low70sF. Although they can tolerate brief cold spells,  poison dart frogs are very sensitive to heat. Social Structure Dendrobates auratus ‘Costa Rican Green and Black’  does fine in groups, pairs, or singly when young. Unlike many other poison dart frogs, auratus tend to do well in groups their entire life. Once auratus hit sexual maturity (10-12 months), females may eat each other’s eggs.


Dendrobates auratus 'Costa Rican Green and Black' does well in groups. Here, a male and female are seen courting.

DietLike most  Poison Dart Frogs, auratus prefer smaller foods less than 1/8” long.  Flightless Fruit Flies are an ideal staple food, as they are easy and inexpensive to culture, and available from several online stores, including . Other common prey items include  pinhead crickets, bean beetles,  springtailsisopods, aphids,  rice flour beetles, lesser wax moth larvae, and  phoenix worms. It is important to dust each prey item with a  vitamin/mineral supplement.

Dendrobates auratus are one of the easiest poison dart frogs to breed. Here, a male can be seen dropping off a tadpole in a water feature.

CleaningIf housed in a naturalistic vivarium, cleaning is kept to a minimum. As long as water does not saturate the ABG substrate (it will smell like rotten eggs if it does), the substrate needs to be replaced only every 3-5 years. New  leaf litter should be added every 6 months or so, as the old leaf litter breaks down. Plants will need to be trimmed to keep them from outgrowing the vivarium, and the front glass can be wiped down with a paper towel to remove any algae or debris that collects there. All of the inside surfaces of the vivarium (ie plant leaves, wood, glass) should be sprayed down with a hand mister once to twice a month. Handling Poison Dart Frogs should not be handled except when they are being moved to or from a vivarium. They are harmless and non toxic in captivity, but household chemicals and oils on your skin can easily harm them. Conclusion Dendrobates auratus ‘Costa Rican Green and Black’ is a great beginner frog. Auratus are easy to keep, readily breed, and are widely available as captive bred animals.