Strictly speaking, the humble frog doesn’t rate highly in the minds of most people when it comes to dangerous animals. They don’t have the claws and fangs of Tigers, Lions and other big cats. They don’t have the sheer bloodlust of sharks. They haven’t claws and stingers like Scorpions or hornets and they aren’t as creepy looking as spiders. Yet as herpetologists know, a surprising number of these harmless looking creatures are carriers of potent and deadly poisons that can kill a man just by touching them.
If you fancy yourself a world roaming student of amphibians, here’s five frogs and toads to keep your hands off.
Golden Poison Dart Frog
At first glance, few would suspect that this beautiful golden amphibian could be dangerous in anyway. But herpetologist know only too well that the golden poison frog is one of the most poisonous animals on earth. Each adult frog has enough poison to kill ten grown men.
This toxin, called batrachotoxin is so effective that the native tribes from Peru and Ecuador where the animal lives use it to cover arrows and other weapons used for hunting or war. The Dart Frogs produce their toxin by sweating it onto their skin, making them dangerous to handle directly presuming they don’t just slip through your fingers – even the biggest are only 6cm long with most being around 1.5 cm.
Strawberry Poison Dart Frog
Like its golden cousin, this animal is deceptively toxic. Fortunately for people, it is still not as toxic as the golden dart frog. However its diet of native ants and mites where it is found causes the frog to secrete a powerful alkaline poison that can cause cardiac problems in humans.
Sadly for the frog, its beautiful red and blue colour pattern is irresistible to would be pet collectors leading to a thriving market in the animal as a pet. Even more sad for the frog is that it loses its poison, and much of its deterrent when not eating it specific natural diet. Indeed captive bred frogs have no poison at all and even those captured in the wild will, over time, lose their potency.
Phantasmal Poison Frog
The spooky sounding phantasmal frogs name may indicate an unfortunate ghostly reality as this striking red and white striped frog can be found in only seven places worldwide. Found only in Ecuador upon the slopes of the Andean mountains, this little frog nevertheless contains toxins that can kill a full grown human easily.
Moving away from the jungles of South America is the Australian Corroboree frog. Unlike its Amazonian cousins, this frog is unique in that it actually produces its own venom, rather than it being a by product of its diet.
The Corroboree tree frog is an endangered species however, with the related southern Corroboree regarded as critically endangered. By 2004 only 64 adults were believed to still be in the wild. For a species that takes four years to reach maturity, this is a serious challenge for conservation efforts.
Though not fatal to humans, the Cane Toad’s poison has made this hardy South American native a serious danger to the ecosystems of Australia where it has been imported. The poison secreted by the toad can kill everything from snakes to domestic dogs. It has been spreading wildly through Australia and has become classified as a major pest.