How to Visually Sex Dart Frogs

Part I: Sexing Dendrobates tinctorius

by Zach Brinks


Dart frogs, like many frogs, can be difficult to sex based on outward appearance. Sure, we all know males call and females lay eggs, but how can you tell who is who just by looking at them? The following hints and tips are meant to help you in establishing the sex of your anuran pets.

This is the first installment in a two part guide to sexing dart frogs. It will deal with sexing Dendrobates tinctorius, the Dyeing Poison Arrow Frog. These frogs are one of the most popular species in the Dendrobatid hobby, and for good reason. They are bold, colorful, easy to breed, and widely available for reasonable prices.

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Sexing Dendrobates tinctorius

Dendrobates tinctorius, known as ‘Tincs’ in the trade, are a very common beginner frog. They typically mature at around 12-18 months of age. With most locales in the trade, an educated guess about sex can be made at 8-10 months of age. There are 4 general characteristics that will aid you in sexing Tincs.

      1. Toe pads: Male Dendrobates tinctorius tend to have larger, heart shaped toe pads on their front feet. Females will have much smaller toe pads. This rule is not steadfast, but is more correct than not among Tincs.

Dendrobates tinctorius ‘Cobalt’

      1. Back Arch: As seen in the picture below, Female Tincs tend to have a higher back arch than males when both are viewed side by side. This characteristic is best used when comparing multiple animals to each other, and the frogs are in a relaxed state.


Dendrobates tinctorius ‘Patricia’

      1. Size: As a general rule, female Tincs will be larger than their male counterparts. This assumes that feeding, housing, and age are similar.


Dendrobates tinctorius ‘Azureus’

      1. Girth: Mature, breeding female Dendrobates tinctorius generally appear swollen or full, because they are carrying eggs. This is much more visible in some females than others. Take note that many frogs in the hobby are obese, which can negate this general rule.


Dendrobates tinctorius ‘Bakhuis’


Although visually sexing dart frogs is by no means an exact science, by using the presented guidelines along with the experience that will come with time, an experienced dart frog keeper can make accurate predictions on the sex of the animals before they are sexually mature. Most of the time, raising young frogs together in a group will allow for easier selection of pairs (as you have more individuals to compare against each other), as well as presenting a greater chance of getting at least one male and one female.

Next week’s article will be part 2 of how to visually sex dart frogs, focusing on Dendrobates auratus, D. leucomelas, D. truncatus, Phyllobates sp., and Ranitomeya sp. By following this guide, the user should be able to visually sex most of the common dart frogs in the hobby with practice.

1 Comment

  1. December 10, 2012    

    All of the isopod species we work with should do well in a crested gecko vivarium.

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  11. male? or female?? - Page 2 - Dendroboard on November 5, 2011 at 1:04 am
  12. Sex my Oyapocks - Dendroboard on November 6, 2011 at 7:33 pm
  13. Help sexing my powder blue - Dendroboard on November 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm
  14. Video of F1 D. Tinctorius 'Powder Blue" and 2 D. 'Azureus' feeding - Dendroboard on December 11, 2011 at 10:17 pm
  15. Help Sex my Patricia - Dendroboard on January 2, 2012 at 12:52 am
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  17. Sex my leuc and azureus please - Dendroboard on January 9, 2012 at 9:07 am
  18. Tinc sexing question - Dendroboard on February 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm
  19. Patricia?? - Dendroboard on February 21, 2012 at 9:11 pm
  20. how do i pair my cobalt tinc - Page 3 - Dendroboard on June 25, 2012 at 6:22 pm
  21. How old until frogs can be sexed? - Dendroboard on August 12, 2012 at 7:19 pm
  22. Sexing Azureus - Dendroboard on December 6, 2012 at 8:05 pm
  23. Sex my tinctorius alanis please. - Dendroboard on December 7, 2012 at 7:40 am
  24. male or female? on December 22, 2012 at 7:03 am
  25. How do you sex Poison Dart Frogs? - Dendroboard on January 20, 2013 at 10:27 pm
  26. Josh's Frogs How-To Guides » Blog Archive » Sexing Poison Dart Frogs on January 24, 2013 at 4:02 pm
  27. Cobalt Sexing - Dendroboard on March 28, 2013 at 2:26 pm
  28. A nemek meghatározása I. | on June 24, 2013 at 1:19 am
  29. Béka nász a sphagnumon + egy kis segítség a nemek meghatározásához! | Rekusz-Brekusz on March 23, 2014 at 11:52 am

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