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Oophaga sylvatica Funkhouser, 1956

Devil poison frog (Valencia et al. 2008Valencia et al. 2008)
Little-devil poison frog (Ron et al. 2009Ron et al. 2009)




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  Dendrobatidae: Oophaga sylvatica  

Funkhouser, J. W. 1956. New frogs from Ecuador and southwestern Colombia. Zoologica. New York 41: 73-80.

sylvaticus5   sylvaticus3   sylvaticus4   sylvaticus1   sylvaticus2
  Borde 1


Oophaga sylvatica inhabits the Pacific lowlands of southwestern Colombia (Departamentos Cauca and Nariño) to northwestern Ecuador (southward to Provincias Pichincha and Los Ríos); its altitudinal distribution is from sea level to about 1000m.

Type locality: "Hacienda Espinosa, elevation about 1,000 ft., 9 km. west of Santo Domingo de los Colorados, Province of Pichincha, north-western Ecuador".


Habitat and biology

This is a species native mostly to lowland rainforests: it is usually found in primary forests, often on slopes, but partly also in forest remnants or bordering banana plantations. The species inhabits rain forests receiving a high amount of precipitation, although forests in the south of its distribution area are slightly drier than those to the north.

Oophaga sylvatica is a ground dweller at the leaf litter, with an inclination to climbing. The frogs are not rarely found perched on shrubs and trees (up to 10m above the ground) or on mighty fallen trees trunks (especially the males). The individual populations exhibit differences as to their escape behavior and can either be hardly shy or have a relatively large escape distance. They reproduce all year round in nature. The males establish territories and call from exposed sites almost all day long, with breaks often limited only to noontime and during rain showers (when the frogs tend to retreat to higher spots in order to be safe from being washed away). Features of the advertisement call include a note length of 125 ms with a repetition rate of 2–3.5 notes per second. Territories measure 0-9.2 m2 in dimension. The males aggressively defend their territories against conspecifics that include the non-territorial females when they wander about or respond to the loud calls of the males. Fights over territory are a daily occurrence among the males. If the intruder turns out to be a female, the territorial behavior changes into one of courtship. A male will then guide the females, calling and with a stiff-legged gait, to a suitable spawning site in the moist leaf litter. The clutch is watered by the female at irregular intervals. The larvae are eventually carried off one by one and individually and typically installed in the leaf axils of bromeliads. The female will subsequently return every 3¬–4 days to feed the larvae with infertile eggs. The larvae feed on abortive eggs and cannibalize other tadpoles. Metamorphosis takes about two months, and the froglets largely correspond to the adults in their color patterns after metamorphosis. They become sexually mature at about one year of age.



See synonyms and taxonomic comments in Frost (2011)Frost (2011) and Grant et al. (2006)Grant et al. (2006)


Conservation status

Near threatened (IUCN, et al. 2011.IUCN, et al. 2011)

It is a species with a very fragmented distribution in Colombia and Ecuador. Their main threats are deforestation, agriculture, livestock, urbanization, logging, mining, human settlements, pesticides, pollution. This species is included in Appendix II of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).


Presence in protected areas

In Ecuador, its geographic range overlaps Reserva Ecológica Cotacachi-Cayapas, Reserva Forestal y Étnica Awá and Parque Nacional Mache-Chindul.


Additional information

Lötters et al. (2007)Lötters et al. (2007) provide a summary of the species and data on distribution,habitat, morphology, biology, breeding and reproduction, terrarium building, diet, and taxonomy. Also, they provide color photographs in dorsolateral view of six individuals of Colombia (Department of Cauca and Nariño) and five of Ecuador (Esmeraldas and Pichincha provinces).

Stuart et al. (2008)Stuart et al. (2008) provide information on distribution, habitat and conservation status.

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