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Ranitomeya variabilis 'Southern' - Zimmerman's Poison Frog (Captive Bred)

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5.0 out of 5 stars


About This Product

Defining Characteristics:

  • Great beginner thumbnail
  • Bright green and black coloration
  • Moderately bold
  • Easy to breed
  • Quiet call
  • Small
  • Great in groups

Name: Ranitomeya variabilis 'Southern'. Formerly known as Dendrobates variabilis, this frog is commonly known as Zimmerman's Poison Dart Frog Recent taxonomic revisions have labeled this species as Ranitomeya variabilis. The species name refers to it's variable appearance although this local is mostly uniform.

Recommended Vivarium Size: A 10 gallon aquarium is suitable for 2-3 Ranitomeya variabilis, but Josh's Frogs recommends a 20H or 18x18x18 Vivarium for 1-3 frogs. Not sure how to set up a vivarium? Please watch our video on How to Set Up a Vivarium.

Temperature: They can tolerate a temperature range of 65 F to 80 F, but prefer temperatures in the low to mid 70s. Temperatures over 85F are dangerous.

Humidity: Like most poison dart frogs, variabilis prefer a humidity range of 80 – 100%, but can tolerate humidity down to 50% for short periods of time if the frogs have access to water. Low humidity levels, especially without access to water, can quickly be fatal.

Size: Adult female and male R. variabilis are similar in length, measuring in at around an inch. All of the Ranitomeya variabilis 'Southern' froglets Josh's Frogs sells are well started juveniles, and measure approximately 1/2” long.

Age: Ranitomeya variabilis 'Southern' is capable of living well over 10 years in captivity under ideal conditions, although a lifespan of 5-8 years is more common. All thumbnail poison dart frogs for sale at Josh's Frogs are well started juveniles, and are 2-3 months old.

Feeding: Like most poison dart frogs, variabilis prefer smaller foods. All of the thumbnail dart frogs sold by Josh's Frogs will readily eat Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies. Adult Ranitomeya variabilis will readily consume Drosophila hydei fruit flies and pinhead crickets. All ages of poison dart frogs will enjoy springtails and isopods. All feeder insects should be dusted with a vitamin/mineral supplement. For more information on what poison dart frogs can eat, please visit our How-To Guide on Feeding Poison Dart Frogs.

Sexing: Ranitomeya variabilis 'Southern' are fairly easy to sex as adults. Females are much wider than males, as they lay eggs on a weekly basis. Josh's Frogs sells 2-3 month old juveniles that are not sexable unless otherwise noted. For more information on sexing poison dart frogs, please visit our How-To Guide on Sexing Poison Dart Frogs.

Color/Pattern: Southernvariabilis are fairly consistent in color and pattern. Exhibiting a green and black spotted body and legs, they are a striking little thumbnaill dart frog! The sponts tend to be more elongated than the mimic imitators. Josh's Frogs does not recommend, support, or endorse line breeding as we believe this leads to weaker captive animals and nature has done a wonderful job of creating an amazing variation in color and pattern of poison dart frogs already.

Social Behavior: These frogs do well housed in groups their entire life as long as enough space is provided. Josh's Frogs recommends approximately 5 gallons per frog. As they reach sexual maturity at 5-8 months of age, the social dynamic in a group of variabilis may change and females may eat each other's eggs, although most will even breed together in the same film canister! Josh's Frogs strongly recommends against housing different species/morphs of dart frogs - for the health of your pets, please avoid mixing! Josh's Frogs recommends purchasing multiple frogs if you are interested in breeding them – this greatly increases the chances of getting a pair.

Breeding: Variabilis are a fairly easy poison dart frogs to breed. Best bred in groups, males call to attract a female to a suitable egg laying site. Then, 4-8 eggs are laid near water (often in a film canister or a bromeliad). The eggs hatch into tadpoles, which then take 60-80 days to complete metamorphosis into miniature versions of the adults. Tadpoles will feed on dead fruit flies, the standard frog and tadpole bites/sera micron fare, and even unfertilized eggs if left in with the adults! For more information on breeding and raising poison dart frogs, please visit our How-To Guide on Breeding Poison Dart Frogs.

Natural Range: Ranitomeya variabilis is a highland species, inhabiting the Amazonian Drainage Basin in Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador. This variety hails from the latter country.

History in the Hobby: Variabilis have long been present in the dart frog hobby, just not in large numbers. The variabilis present in the US hobby decend from Ecuador. The variabilis sold by Josh's Frogs descend from animals imported by Understory Enterprises and tend to be larger and less variable than their 'highland' counterparts.

Links of Interest: - Ranitomeya variabilis natural history

Understory Enterprises - nice pictures and more specific info on the line we work with

Suarian Enterprises - good information on this species

Still not sure if Ranitomeya variabilis 'Southern' from Josh's Frogs are the right poison dart frog for you? Read the reviews below and see what other customers are saying!


After placing an order containing a live animal, you will receive a scheduling email containing our JotForm scheduling link to schedule your new pet's delivery date.

With this scheduling link, you will be able to schedule your order's delivery up to 30 days in advance. You will be able to choose a date of delivery for Tuesday-Saturday (Saturday arrival depends on the carrier's service availability) with the estimated time of arrival generally being 12pm, or 4:30pm for more rural areas. Overnight lows must be above 40°F to ship directly to you (or above 30°F for FedEx Ship Center pickups) as well as below 90°F by estimated time of arrival.

If you require further assistance, or prefer to talk to one of our Customer Service agents, please feel free to reach out to our [email protected] email or our phone line 1-800-691-8178.

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5.0 out of 5 stars

Absolutely in love!

I purchased four of these incredible frogs in two separate batches just days apart. Josh’s Frogs shipped out my order promptly and both shipments came in perfect condition with safe and beautiful frogs. They have acclimated well in their new tank. I have a large BioOrb Air that the four of them live in with a mourning gecko and everyone is happy. It has a shallow pool for them and a river that runs through the tank. They are super vibrant and active and clearly very happy in their new home. I waited for a long time to find these guys in stock and even considered shopping somewhere else for them but I’m so glad I was patient and got them from Josh’s! Couldn’t be happier!

My favorite!

5.0 out of 5 stars

My favorite

Out of all the dart frogs I have, these are by far my favorite! I have two from JF and they are so active and beautiful!

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