Defining Characteristics: Great Beginner Frog | Contrasting Red/Orange Stripe | Shy | Easy to breed | Loud call | Large Clutch Size | Can be Kept in Groups | Social
Name: Phyllobates vittatus. These frogs are commonly called the Golfodulcean poison frog after the region of Costa Rica they are native to, but are typically referred to as vits or simply vittatus in the US frog hobby.
Recommended Vivarium Size: A 10 gallon aquarium is suitable for 1-2 Phyllobates vittatus, but Josh's Frogs recommends a 20H or 24x18x18 Vivarium for 2-4 frogs. A good rule of thumb is 5-10 gallons of space per dart frog in the habitat. Not sure how to set up a vivarium? Please watch our video on How to Set Up a Vivarium.
Temperature: Phyllobates vittatus can tolerate a temperature range of 65 F to 80 F, but prefer temperatures in the low to mid 70s. Temperatures over 80F are dangerous. Poison Dart Frogs of the genus Phyllobates are notoriously sensitive to warmer temperatures, and Josh's Frogs strongly recommends keeping temperatures below 75F.
Humidity: Like most poison dart frogs, vittatus prefer a humidity range of 70 – 100%, but can tolerate humidity down to 50% for short periods of time if the frogs have access to water. Low humidity levels, especially without access to water, can quickly be fatal. In the wild Phyllobates vittatus is often found near small streams, and takes advantage of humid microclimes.
Size: Adult female vittatus are larger, measuring in at approximately 1.25 inches. Male vittatus tend to be a bit smaller, averaging about 1 inch at maturity. Size is not always a good indication of sex, however - even when dealing with frogs that are several years old! All of the Phyllobates vittatus froglets Josh's Frogs sells are well started juveniles, and measure approximately .75” long.
Age: Phyllobates vittatus is capable of living well over 20 years in captivity under ideal conditions, although a lifespan of 10 years is more common. All vittatus for sale at Josh's Frogs are well started juveniles, and are 2-3 months old.
Feeding: Like most poison dart frogs, Phyllobates vittatus prefer smaller foods. All of the vittatus Josh's Frogs sells will readily eat Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies. Adult Phyllobates vittatus will readily consume Drosophila hydei fruit flies, as well as crickets up to 1/4"! Vittatus are very unusual in that they are capable of eating much larger prey items than most other poison dart frogs. All ages of poison dart frogs will enjoy springtails and isopods. All feeder insects should be dusted with a vitamin/mineral supplement. For more information on what poison dart frogs can eat, please visit our How-To Guide on Feeding Poison Dart Frogs.
Sexing: Phyllobates vittatus is a difficult dart frog to sex until they are about a year old. Often, a frog keeper will know they have at least one male due to a loud, trilling call that starts at 6-8 months of age. Females tend to be larger and bulkier than males, but a frog will often reveal it's sex by laying eggs before sex can be confirmed visually. Josh's Frogs sells 2-3 month old juveniles that are not sexable unless otherwise noted. For more information on sexing poison dart frogs, please visit our How-To Guide on Sexing Poison Dart Frogs.
Color/Pattern: Phyllobates vittatus are not very variable, and most individuals are virtually identical to each other. When young, vittatus come out of the water as a mostly black frog with a red/orange U shape on their back. As they age, this U spreads and eventually forms 2 complete stripes down the back of the frog. There are two distinct lines of vittatus in the US frog hobby - orange and red. Orange animals tend to have wider stripes that are a yellowish-orange to a reddish-orange color, while red animals have narrow, very red stripes. Josh's Frogs currently works only with the orange line, as the red line is very uncommon. Josh's Frogs does not recommend, support, or endorse line breeding as we believe this leads to weaker captive animals and nature has done a wonderful job of creating an amazing variation in color and pattern of poison dart frogs already.
Social Behavior: Phyllobates vitttatus do well housed in groups as long as enough space is provided. Josh's Frogs recommends approximately 5-10 gallons per frog. As they reach sexual maturity at 8-10 months of age, the social dynamic in a group of Phyllobates vittatus may change. Sometimes adult female vittatus will eat each other's eggs, resulting in little/no tadpoles being produced. For that reason, many breeders recommend keeping vittatus in pairs as adults. We enjoy keeping them in groups, however - a group of 4-6 vittatus is quite the sight to behold in a vivarium, as males call from different perches around the tank. Josh's Frogs strongly recommends against housing different species/morphs of dart frogs - for the health of your pets, please avoid mxing! Josh's Frogs recommends purchasing multiple frogs if you are interested in breeding them – this greatly increases the chances of getting a pair.
Breeding: Phyllobates vittatus are easy to breed once they get going, and reach sexual maturity at a young age (generally 8-10 months, but I've had them breed at 6 months before!). Generally, 8-20 eggs are deposited on a smooth broad leaf, or on a petri dish under a cocohut. The eggs hatch into tadpoles, which then take 60-80 days to complete metamorphosis into miniature versions of the adults. For more information on breeding and raising poison dart frogs, please visit our How-To Guide on Breeding Poison Dart Frogs.
Natural Range: Phyllobates vittatus naturally occurs in the Gulfo Dulce region of southern Costa Rica, where it inhabits lowland tropical rainforests with high humidity and annual rainfall. Vittatus are commonly found near slow moving streams, especially when small pools are present (where vittatus deposit their tadpoles). Considered endangered in their native lands due to habitat loss, Phyllobates vittatus is quite plentiful in captivity.
History in the Hobby: Phyllobates vittatus is a common frog in the US hobby, and has been present for quite some time (at least the early 1990s, if not earlier), where it was imported directly from Costa Rica. European imports most likely occurred, as well. This poison dart frog has suffered greatly from many boom/bust cycles due to it's ability to reproduce in large numbers, resulting in a lack of popularity that has led to a near exterpation in the US dart frog trade multiple times. This is one of those dart frogs that should be much more popular than they are, as they are a colorful, vocal species that is simple to keep and easy to breed.
Links of Interest:
Josh's Frogs Caresheet for Phyllobates vittatus
IUCN Redlist report on Vittatus
AmphibiaWeb article on The Golfo Dulce Poison Dart Frog
Still not sure if Phyllobates vittatus from Josh's Frogs are the right poison dart frog for you? Read the reviews below and see what other customers are saying!