What To Feed Your Poison Dart Frog

Dendrobates Azureus 

Dart Frogs need to hunt live prey. They will not accept any commercially made product. Fortunately their food is easy and inexpensive to culture.

Dart Frogs very in size. As adults they range from only 12 mm in length like the Ranitomeya Reticulata to almost 3 inches like the Dendrobates Tinctorius La Fumme. Even though Dart Frogs are small, they have large appetites. Each should be fed a varied diet of live foods. You should feed Springtails, Isopods, Fruit Flies, and week old crickets to your Dart Frog, depending on its size and species. You should also be supplementing your Dart Frogs diet with Calcium, and other necessary vitamins and mineral. You do this by “Dusting” your flies with a fine powder supplement, before you put them in the vivarium with you Dart Frog.

As young froglets, Dart Frogs will be very shy. They will spend much of their time hiding in the leaf litter, and only come out to forage for food in the very early mornings or late evenings. It is advised that if you are raising any young froglets you keep your vivarium stocked with Springtails.


The Springtail falls under the insect family of Arthropods. While they may be small (less than 6mm) they play a big part as one of Springtail Culture floating Mother Nature’s cleanup crew. These little guys are invaluable to any Dart Frog keeper. It is recommended to stock your Vivarium with Springtails for a few reasons.

– They are a great small snack for the Dart Frog of all ages and sizes. This will help keep the frog stimulated because it will forage for these critters in the leaf litter and substrate. (Just like in the wild)

– Some of your smaller thumbnails can feed almost exclusively on these guys. Although this is not recommended as they lack vital nutrients needed by your Dart Frog.

– If you decide to keep a breeding pair, and are letting things happen naturally in the vivarium, then Springtails will be among the first and only food the young froglets can and will eat.

– They are Mother Nature’s cleanup crew.  There is no need to feed Springtails because their diet consists of the dead and decaying stuff in your vivarium. If you have some mold or some rotting plants these guys will make short work of it.  Preventing your little Rainforest from smelling like a swamp.

– Need a highly humid place to survive, making them ideal for your vivarium

– Harmless to live plants.

– Easy to culture and easy to feed


Another species of Arthropod, Isopods have been part of Mother Nature’s cleanup crew for over 300 million years. While actually a crustacean, these guys have made a very positive impact on land. There are over 45 species of woodlouse, ranging in color and size from 3-30mm. For many of the same reasons to stock your vivarium with Springtails, you should also keep Isopods on hand for your larger Poison Dart Frogs.

Fruit Fly

Hydei Large Flightless Fruit Fly Culture
Fruit Flies are a common food for Dart Frogs

The fruit fly is the staple food for the Dart Frog hobbist.  There are two common species cultured for Dart Frog food. The smaller Melanogaster (2 mm) and the larger Hydei (3mm) are selectively bred for a recessive gene that renders them flightless.  While they possess wings the muscles required to fly are too weak to do so.

The Melanogaster is approximately 2mm and is faster to culture to a feedable bloom then the Hydei.  The developmental stages vary depending on temperature, however range from 7 to 11 days. Making them the ideal choice for young froglets to larger species. That said, the Melanogaster is also the common fruit fly that you may find in your house from time to time. If it is allowed to breed with a wild fruit fly that has the ability to fly. The offspring will gain the ability back. It is also possible for the Melanogaster to regain its ability of flight with the hotter temperatures in the summer months.

The Hydei is the most commonly cultured fruit fly for Dart Frogs, because it is a little larger thus has more protein. It cannot mate with the common fruit fly, and it does not regain the ability of flight during the summer months. Making it the heavily favored choice of the two. For any mid to large species of frog. However the one drawback is that it will take a bit longer to develop, at approximately 3 weeks. They are little more susceptible to crashes due to over population and heat.


You can feed crickets to the larger species of frogs, such as the Epipedobatesand the Dendrobates with care. You should choose only pin head or week old crickets for feeders. They should be about 3-5mm in size.  However some frogs may not like them because of their tougher exoskeleton.  Do not feed crickets that are too large for your Dart Frog to consume. Also don’t feed too many at a time, as they may be able to elude the frogs and eventually grow to full size. It is recommended to remove crickets if you notice them growing larger in the vivarium. Visit your local pet store to see if the can order in pin head crickets for you. Experienced frog and lizard keepers have cultured crickets at home. However they can be more difficult the culturing Fruit Flies. It is recommended that you “Gut Load” and “Dust” your crickets prior to feeding them to your Dart Frog.


Should I Feed Anything Else To My Poison Dart Frog

There are other insects you can feed to your dart frog. Some other insects cultured in the hobby would be the Bean Beetle and Rice Flour Beetle. Please make sure you select a feeder that is of an appropriate size for your Dart Frog to swallow. Remember Frogs don’t have teeth and they can’t chew their food.

In the wild Poison Dart Frogs eat a large variety of insects, and get their nutrients that way. However in captivity, they don’t get everything they require from cultured diets. Which is why you should not only vary their diet with different insects, but also use high quality vitamin supplements as well. At Jungle Jewel Exotics  we make sure to rotate supplements for a variety of vitamins, minerals and calcium with every feeding. This is done by “Dusting” the flies  or crickets prior to feeding them to our Dart Frogs. Please make sure you read and follow the instructions on the labels.


Can’t I Just Catch Bugs From Outside And Feed Them To My Dart Frog

This technique is called “Field Sweeping” it is not recommended due to the heavy use of pesticides used to control insects. These chemicals can be ingested by your Dart Frog and possibly have fatal results.


How Often Should I Feed My Dart Frog

Depending on the size and species you should feed young and juvenile Dart Frogs everyday, and you can feed adults every other day. It is recommended that you keep insects like Springtails stocked in your vivarium at all times.


How Much Should I Feed My Dart Frog

frog flyAgain this depends on the size and species of your frog. This will also vary on what you are feeding them. For example you can feed approximately 5-10 week old crickets to an adult Tinctorius once a week, and feed it about 20-30 Hydei fruit flies every other day.

The Thumbnail Dart Frogs should keep stocked with Springtails to forage on. Plus feed 20-30 Melanogaster and or Hydei fruit flies every other day.

These are only guidelines. Please observe your Dart frog. If you don’t see them come out immediately for food. Be patient. They may be shy. However do observe if the number of flies is being reduced (being eaten). If you see that all the food in the vivarium is eaten, add some more. Dart Frogs shouldn’t be allowed to be overweight or too skinny. At Jungle Jewel Exotics we observe each of our Dart Frogs multiple times a day, to make sure they are eating and are healthy.

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Happy Frogging




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