Dendrobates leucomelas Banded

Dendrobates leucomelas Banded frogs are bright yellow and black frogs, patterned with variable bands and spots.  They are quite confident and enjoy people-watching while you do things around their enclosure.  These mid sized frogs have a loud, birdlike call, and are fairly easy to care for.  They were mainly imported from British Guyana between 2005 and 2007, and are quite common in the frog hobby today.

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, Dwarf Isopods, springtails.

Lifespan: 10 years, potentially longer


Dendrobates leucomelas Banded frogs are yellow with black banding and spotting and are affectionately nicknamed the bumblebee dart frog. The bands on these frogs are typically 5-7mm wide, but can taper and narrow depending on the individual frog.  The spots are usually quite round but can be more splotched in appearance.  Banded leucomelas is a small to medium sized dart frog.  The females are around 50mm (2 inches) and the males are smaller, at about 38mm (1.5 inches).  Banded frogs are not sexable until they are at least 10 months of age.  Females often appear wider and longer than males.  This species can be more difficult to sex than other types of Dendrobates dart frogs.

Distribution and Natural Habitat of Leucomelas Banded

Leucomelas Banded are native to British Guiana.  These frogs can be found living on the ground near streams and ponds in the tropical forests in the region.  Leucomelas is considered by the IUCN Red List as “Least Concern” as of 2010, but these frogs are under constant threat of deadly virus, agriculture, and logging.


Like all leucomelas, the Banded 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 leucomelas 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. Leucomelas Banded frogs 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 leucomelas call is loud and unique, and sounds like a bird call.  It is a few seconds long and monotone, singing “ti-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-” rapidly in succession for any mates to hear.  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.  Leucomelas Banded females and males typically get along fairly well and can be cohabitated with others of the same locale, but remember to increase your vivarium size by about a foot for every additional frog.

Life in the Vivarium

Like all dart frogs, Dendrobates leucomelas Banded 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, leucomelas Banded 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.

Banded type frogs 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 leucomelas Banded 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 Banded leucs.

If any of your male or female frogs exhibit aggressive behaviors to each other you may be required to remove the offending frog. This is much less common than in tinctorius frogs, so it should be possible to house a colony of these frogs together.  Female leucomelas “Banded” frogs may eat other females’ eggs, so a breeder will need to watch out for this behavior.  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 common for a healthy leucomelas Banded to live over 10 years in a vivarium. 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 or latex 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.

Leucomelas Banded require small live prey to hunt. This is easily achieved by providing them with flightless or wingless fruit flies. Baby and juvenile Banded 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 leucomelas Banded in Captivity

If you have provided all the necessary parameters to keep your leucomelas Banded happy and healthy, they are relatively easy to breed in a vivarium. Their popularity has encountered a slight decline in recent years but they are still popular.  These frogs can be a bit finicky about breeding season and may require a dry period to get mating.   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 typically contain 5-10 eggs.

The adult male should return frequently to his eggs to keep them moist and clean. Leucomelas Banded 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 leucomelas Banded are delightful, vibrant yellow and black frogs with a bold personality to match their color.  They are fairly easy to care for and do well in groups, making them an interesting and active addition to your home or frog collection.

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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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