Ranitomeya sirensis

Ranitomeya sirensis is a species of poison dart frog that is native to Peru. It is widely known as the Sira Poison Dart Frog, or more popularly as R. lamasi. It is kept as a bet by herpetoculturists and is considered to be one of the more difficult poison dart frogs to keep due to its relative rarity and the fragile nature of its tadpoles.

Like most Ranitomeya species, R. sirensis is a mildly toxic poison dart frog. Its skin secretes small amounts of pumiliotoxins which coat the frog and cause pain and mild muscle spasms if the frog is handled without care. The symptoms may be more severe if the frog is ingested, but unlike the Phyllobates and Oophaga species, R. sirensis secretes the comparatively mild pumiliotoxin C in very small doses because of its tiny size. As a result, it mostly relies on their agility, speed, and ability to take shelter in the leaf litter or in dense foliage for protection.

As will all dendrobatid frogs, it loses its poison in captivity. The reason for the loss is though to be the removal of a toxic insect or other invertebrate from the diet. Scientists have determined that members of the genus Phyllobates get their dangerously potent toxins from local melyrid beetles. As this frog is much less toxic than the Phyllobates species, the source of its toxin isn’t though to be melyrid beetles; instead, it is most likely an invertebrate that remains undiscovered.

Image Caption: Ranitomeya sirensis. Credit: Nicop69/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)