Strawberry Poison Dart Frogs

It’s hard not to love these little guys.  They come in 15-30 beautiful and vibrant color combinations, they are itty-bitty (less than 1 inch long), and they have an interesting history.  As many people know, these frogs were given their name by the natives who used the poison on the frog’s skin to coat their darts and arrows.  As a kid, I always wanted to have one of these little frogs as a pet, but until recently, I had no idea how amazing they really are

Unlike most species, with this frog both parents care for their young.  After the eggs have been fertilized, the mother will lay her eggs on a leaf on the forest floor.  The father will then transport water to keep the eggs moist and hydrated while they grow for about 10 days.  Then the eggs will hatch and a whole new problem presents itself.

The little tadpoles need more water and will soon die if not moved to a better location.  One by one, the mother (and occasionally the father) will get a tadpole on its back and will climb high into the trees until it finds a bromeliad plant (or something similar).  Bromeliads grow in such a way that they will pool rainwater at their centers.  These frogs produce a mucus like substance on their skin that helps the tadpole stick to their backs as they climb up trees and leaves.  So, the little frog will get the tadpole on its back, find a bromeliad, and then set the tadpole into the little pool of water.  Then the mother will climb back down the tree and transport 4-6 little tadpoles to their own little growing pools.

The tadpoles now have water, but they will die without food.  To solve this problem, the female comes back to each pool and lays an unfertilized egg for the tadpole to eat.  The father’s responsibility is mostly to watch over and protect the eggs, but he also checks the tadpoles occasionally to see if they are hungry and will go get the mother if this is the case.

What an amazing little creature the strawberry poison dart frog is!  When we take a close look at this process, it completely fails without each step in place.  The male must transport water to keep the eggs moist or they will die.  Once hatched, the tadpoles must be moved to where more water is or they will die.  If the tadpoles couldn’t stick on their parents’ backs, they couldn’t be transported and they would die.  If the female couldn’t continually lay unfertilized eggs for the tadpoles to eat, once again, they would die.

As always, every part of this process points to intelligent design and the Creator of our world.  Just as the Psalmist said, “The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it” (Psalm 24:1).  The strawberry poison dart frog is a cute, colorful, and amazing creature all by itself, but the fact that shows God’s existence and glory just makes it that much more wonderful.



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