Red Strawberry Poison Dart Frogs More Aggressive Than Green Counterparts

December 2, 2015

Did you know that red strawberry poison dart frogs may be more aggressive than green strawberry poison dart frogs? According to new research on the behaviors of Oophaga pumilio, the red frogs are more aggressive toward conspecifics as well as other species. 

Strawberry poison dart frog

Dirk Ercken/Shutterstock

Red strawberry poison dart frogs are more aggressive than their green counterparts, a new study says.

The research was published in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, and its authors believe that the red phase frogs are more aggressive because they may be perceived by potential adversaries as more toxic than the green phase strawberry poison dart frogs even though they share the same level of toxicity.

The researchers collected 50 red strawberry poison dart frogs and 50 green strawberry poison dart frogs and placed them in enclosures to let them establish residency. The researchers then placed Andinobates claudiae frogs and Phyllobates lugubris frogs in the enclosures with the red and green frogs and noted that the red colored Oophaga pumilio, which had established residency, were far more aggressive than the green colored Oophaga pumilio, which also established residency. 

The red strawberry poison dart frogs were found to dominate most of the interactions in which they were involved with the other frogs and exhibited more aggressive behavior toward the other frogs, including shaking of the legs and chasing the other frogs and even pinning them down to dominate them.

 The green strawberry poison dart frogs on the other hand were less belligerent and were much less aggressive than the red strawberry poison dart frogs. The researchers suggest that the red coloration in Oophaga pumilio is a good indicator in the aggressive outcome of “intraspecific and some interspecific behavioral male–male interactions.”

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