This Is the Deadliest Frog in the World

This is the golden poison frog. Setting aside the name, it seems harmless enough, right? Just look at those adorable, beady little eyes. It’s just like a slimy gerbil!

Golden Poison Frog - Photo by Wilfried Berns
Golden poison frog. Photo by Wilfried Berns.

Well, don’t get your hopes up. This tiny creature would NOT make a good pet. If poison dart frogs aren’t already dangerous enough, the golden poison frog (Phyllobates terribilis) is the deadliest of them all. The average golden poison frog carries about one milligram of poison, which is enough to kill about 10,000 mice or roughly 10 to 20 humans. This poison, known as batrachotoxin, is only found in two other poisonous frog species, melyrid beetles, and three poisonous birds.

Interestingly, the golden poison frog does not produce its own poison. Instead, it gains it from eating melyrid beetles. When kept in captivity, golden poison frogs eventually lose their toxicity due to lack of toxic-producing food.

Golden Poison Frog - Photo by Marcel Burkhard
Golden poison frog. Photo by Marcel Burkhard.

With their beautiful, bright colors, golden poison frogs might appear welcoming, but like most poisonous animals, their colors are meant to warn predators away. However, despite their name, not all golden poison frogs are golden. Some, like the mint morph, are a more bluish/cobalt color, although they are still bright enough to warn predators away.

Golden Poison Frog Mint Morph - Photo by H. Zell
Golden poison frog (mint morph). Photo by H. Zell.

The moral of the story? If you see an animal with bright colors, no matter how small or cute, DO NOT touch it!!! One gram of the golden poison frog’s poison is enough to kill 15,000 humans!

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