Dendrobates pumilio is a species that exhibits a great deal of variation, comprising well over thirty different true-breeding color morphs. The bright, aposematic warning colors displayed by D. pumilio are indicative of the presence of various toxins present in the frog's skin. These chemicals likely give the frog a bad taste, limiting predation. Dendrobates pumilio does not possess any chemical capable of seriously harming humans, though a field worker described intense burning and mild swelling after getting skin secretions into a cut on his arm.
D. pumilio belongs to the Dendrobates pumilio group, which consists of D. granuliferus, D. speciosus, and D. vicentei. The pumilio group is in turn closely related to the D. histrionicus group, which consists of D. histrionicus and D. duellmani. Collectively, this is referred to as the egg feeder group, due to their methods of parental care.
An August 2006 study places this species into the Oophaga genus (Grant et al, 2006), but D. pumilio is still the one most commonly used.
Tadpoles are deposited singly at each location, as they are cannibalistic. Once this has been done, the female will come to each tadpole every few days and deposit several unfertilized food eggs. In captivity, tadpoles have been raised on a variety of diets, ranging from algae to the eggs of other dart frogs, but with minimal success. Because of this, D. pumilio group frogs are considered obligate egg feeders, as they are unable to accept any other form of nutrition.
After about a month, the tadpole will metamorph into a small froglet. Generally, they stay near their water source for a few days for protection as they absorb the rest of their tail.
Recently, D. pumilio has been exported from Central America again in small numbers from frog farms. Because of this, pumilio have seen a huge increase in numbers in the dart frog community and is regularly available.
Bastimentos pumilio or "Bastis" have recently been arriving in the United States as imports from frog farms. Bastis typically come in three morphs, being either red, yellow, or white, with black spots on the back and legs. They are all found together on Isla Bastimentos, and have been reported to be true breeding to a certain degree, despite the ease of mixing with the other varieties.
Blue jeans are typically found in Costa Rica, and are very abundant, often thriving in disturbed areas if given a chance to acclimate.
The Man Creek pumilio is another frog that has seen recent importation. They look very similar to the blue jeans and are often confused. Both frogs are usually red with blue legs. However, Man Creeks typically have gray legs and arms, and it is not uncommon for them to lack gray entirely on the front limbs. Some Man Creeks do exhibit bluish arms and legs, however, they're typically easy to distinguish to the trained eye.
Man Creeks are often referred to as "Almirante," as they closely resemble the Almirante morph. However, some reports place their collection locale closer to the Man Creek area, and this name is considered more correct at this time. Unfortunately, due to the methods of collection by the frog farms, locality data is missing on this morph, resulting in a great deal of confusion and frustration within the hobby.
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