Dendrobates auratus Costa Rican Green and Black

Dendrobates auratus ‘Costa Rican Green and Black’ are medium to large sized, aptly named green and black frogs who are fairly confident in captivity.  Like the other auratus frogs, Costa Rican Green and Black are diurnal, meaning they will be awake during the day so you can watch them eat, hop, and hang out.  Introduced in the late 1980s and still going strong, these old timers are a delight to both beginners and long term collectors alike.


Quick Stats:

Minimum Enclosure: 45cmX45cmX45cm (18”X18”X18”)

Heat:  18°C-27°C (65°F-80°F)

Humidity:  70-100%

Food:  Juveniles D. melanogaster, Adults D. hydei, all isopods, springtails.

Lifespan: 10-15 years, occasionally over 20


Costa Rican Green and Black frogs are not particularly variable.  They are a medium bright mint green with black splotches placed nearly randomly on the body, head, and legs.  This can vary somewhat in each individual frog.  Costa Rican Green and Black are a medium to medium-large auratus.  Large females measure in at about 38mm (1.5 inches), with males being slightly smaller at 25mm (1 inch).  Males often appear smaller than females, but these frogs can be quite difficult to sex, even to the trained eye.

Distribution and Natural Habitat Dendrobates auratus Costa Rican Green and Black

Auratus Costa Rican Green and Black are native to Costa Rica.  This is the only common morph available exclusively from this region. These frogs can be found living near streams in the jungle they live in.  Auratus is considered by the IUCN Red List as “Least Concern” as of 2010, but Costa Rican Green and Black frogs are under constant threat of deadly virus, agriculture, human collection, and logging.  However they are no longer imported in large numbers due to captive breeding success.


Like all auratus, the Costa Rican Green and Black frogs are diurnal meaning they are awake during the day.  They are terrestrial and live in the understory of the jungles they inhabit. In the wild they are constantly foraging for small insects, invertebrates and arthropods in the leaf litter. Some of the plants in the jungles contain various alkaloids and toxins, the micro fauna eat these plants and in turn get eaten by the frogs.  This causes a downstream effect and these amazing frogs have evolved to harness the toxins as a means of self-defence. A combination of their striking colors and the toxins stored in their glands help ward off potential predators. In captivity the auratus do not contain any of these toxins due to the diet provided to them. They don’t have access to the food they would be eating in the wild.  Costa Rican Green and Black live near streams and can be found soaking in shallow ponds or right on the edge of slow moving water. While being frogs they are not very good swimmers and great care should be taken when making a suitable vivarium for them to live in. Once mature, the males will boldly perch on a rock or log and call out to attract females. The auratus call is a combination of a purr, a buzz, and a long squeak.  It’s quite soft and will not bother sensitive ears. When a female selects a male, she will caress and gently pet his back to tell him she is ready to mate. The male will then hop away to a nice quiet place, with the female close behind.  Typically auratus can be housed communally, but occasionally you may have to remove a bully.

Life in the Vivarium

Like all dart frogs, Costa Rican Green and Black require a humidity range of 70-100%. They can survive for brief intervals at 50% humidity if clean water is provided for them to soak in.  You can place a bromeliad or small shallow dish of water in the enclosure or add a pond feature to achieve this.  Remember, auratus Costa Rican Green and Black cannot swim well, so ensure that the water source is shallow and easy to get out of. The water level should be no higher than the smallest frog can sit in with his head and upper torso out.

Costa Rican Green and Black thrive at temperatures near 21°C (70°F) but can survive a range of 18°C-27°C (65°F-80°F).  Never exceed 29°C (85°F) as this can be fatal to the frogs. Generally a heat source such as a pad or light is not needed on a dart frog vivarium, apart from any lighting for plants.  Do not rely on sunshine from a window, because the sun through the glass will heat up to extremely unsafe temperatures very quickly. Keep note of any air conditioning or heaters used in your home as well, as they may affect the temperature in your frog cage.

It is possible to house a single auratus Costa Rican Green and Black in a 10 gallon aquarium, but we recommend that you use a minimum 45cmX45cmX45cm (18”X18”X18”) enclosure – bigger is always better. This size vivarium is suitable to house 2-3 adult Costa Rican Green and Black.

You can house several Costa Rican Green and Black together, however always watch for females who are bullying smaller females, or males having spats.  Usually removing the single offender will solve the problem.  The size of the vivarium provided and the individual personalities of each animal will dictate how many frogs you can keep in an enclosure. It is quite common for hobbyists to keep very large enclosures for colonies of these frogs.  Consider ten gallons per frog when deciding how many animals to put in an enclosure.

It is common for a healthy auratus Costa Rican Green and Black to live 20+ years in a vivarium, although up to 15 years is more reasonable. Please consider this before deciding to take them home to your family. As with most amphibians they are considered a “hands off” pet similar to a fish. Due to their delicate and permeable skin, it is not advised to handle your frogs. The chemicals, oils and debris on your hands could prove fatal to your dart frog pet when it is absorbed through their skin. It is recommended that you wear powder free rubber gloves if you are required to handle your dart frogs. In an emergency, such as an escape from the enclosure, try to capture them as fast as possible (bare hands will do… if needed) as they will try to hide quickly, and unfortunately this will become fatal very rapidly.

Auratus Costa Rican Green and Black require small live prey to hunt. This is easily achieved by providing them with flightless or wingless fruit flies. Baby and juvenile Costa Rican Green and Black will eat Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies, and the adults will hunt for Drosophila hydei. But the flies on their own are a poor nutritional source.  We recommend “dusting” your fruit flies with a high quality vitamin and mineral supplement. We use and recommend Dendrocare all in one vitamin/mineral supplement. You can combine and use other supplements available to you, however please ensure you research what ratio or frequency you can supply vitamins as some can be lethal in high dosages.

It is very common to build a bioactive vivarium for your dart frogs. This is achieved by introducing isopods and springtails into the environment. These little land crustaceans (no they are not insects!) will eat the decaying and decomposing bio matter as well as any excess feces in the vivarium. Some of these micro fauna will be eaten by your dart frog, as a little snack.

As with all our frogs, we do not recommend that you house multiple species or morphs together. Please supply each group with a vivarium to call their own.

Breeding Dendrobates auratus Costa Rican Green and Black in Captivity

If you have provided all the necessary parameters to keep your auratus Costa Rican Green and Black happy and healthy, they are fairly easy to breed in a vivarium.  Eggs will be laid on a smooth clean leaf surface in a secluded location. Many hobbyists will place a petri dish under a coconut hut to give the frogs a nice quiet place to lay their eggs. Clutches will typically consist of 4-6 eggs.  The adult male should return frequently to his eggs to keep them moist and clean. Auratus Costa Rican Green and Black eggs are clear and gelatinous, making them excellent to watch develop into tadpoles. The eggs take approximately 10-14 days to fully develop, at which point they will hatch and the adults will return to give the tadpoles a piggyback ride to a shallow pond. The tadpoles will take approximately 60-80 days to fully metamorphosis into colorful little froglets.

Final Notes

Dendrobates auratus Costa Rican Green and Black are beautiful medium to large sized frogs with a pretty bold personality despite their size.  They are active and easy to care for, making them an excellent beginner frog or pet for a child who understands the no touching requirements of this frog.  Their ease of breeding makes them common in the pet trade, but their stunning mint and black colors keep even the professionals coming back for more.

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Jungle Jewel Exotics is located in Calgary Alberta and was founded by Lucas and Dawn to preserve and expand the amazing hobby of amphibians and reptiles in Western Canada. Currently working with over thirty five species and morphs of dart frogs plus other enchanting species of frogs. We are also working with several types of dwarf day gecko. Jungle Jewel Exotics is on the fore front of our favorite hobby and rapidly expanding our breeding program.

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