What Do Poison Dart Frogs Eat?

Poison dart frogs are carnivorous animals and mainly eat small invertebrates.

The best diet for captive poison dart frogs is one that mimics their wild diet, as it is mainly comprised of very small insects.

It is very important to avoid feeding poison dart frogs prey that is too large as they have evolved to eat large numbers of very small insects. Feeding them large insects is almost guaranteed to cause intestinal impactions, which can be fatal.

You can feed your poison dart frog commercially produced insects or you can collect wild insects yourself. Both options have different benefits and drawbacks, which we will discuss below.

1. Commercial Insects

There are a few different commercially produced insects that are suitable for feeding poison dart frogs. Some of the more popular options are discussed below.


Crickets are probably the most popular prey, starting with poison dart frog breeders who feed their pets.

feeding dart frogs

Crickets are very affordable and are generally available at most well-stocked pet stores. Plus, it’s easy to keep crickets alive for a week or so while you feed them; just provide them with a small plate of grains and an orange slice to moisten them.

However, crickets present some challenges. For beginners, crickets are only small enough to serve as poison dart frog food for about a week. After this, they will have grown too big for all but the largest poison dart frogs.

Also, hungry crickets are voracious animals that can chew on your frog’s body.

Consequently, you will need to identify a reliable source of young crickets. You can try breeding them yourself, but cricket breeding is more challenging than many beginning keepers believe.

Additionally, crickets are known to create offensive odors when kept in large quantities. Also, if you ever introduce more crickets into the enclosure than your frogs can eat in a short amount of time, you’ll also want to put some cricket food in the habitat. This will help reduce the chances that they will chew on your pet poison dart frogs.

Flightless fruit flies

Flightless fruit flies are not as commonly fed by beginning dart frog breeders as crickets, but most advanced poison dart frog breeders rely heavily on them.

poison dart frog food
Fruit Fly

Fruit flies don’t grow too big for poison frogs, and they don’t chew on your pet frogs either. And because the types available to frog breeders lack the ability to fly, they are easy for dart frogs to catch.

The problem with feeding fruit flies is that you will have to maintain one culture (or, more likely, several) of the flies to ensure you have a constant supply of food.

Most fruit flies are sold in small tubes that contain a substrate for egg-laying and a food source for the flies. There may only be several dozen adult flies in the container at any one time, and you will likely use most adults at each feeding.

However, a few days later, new fruit flies will hatch and start the cycle again.

It is not very difficult to maintain a fruit fly culture, but many beginners have problems at first. However, with time and practice, most keepers eventually figure out how to maintain a healthy and productive fruit fly colony.

2. Wild-caught Insects

There are a variety of insects and other invertebrates that you can collect and feed to your poison dart frogs. Some of the most suitable options are discussed below.


Very small isopods (“roly polies“) are an acceptable food for poison dart frogs and are generally easy to collect. A five-minute walk through a local forest will yield a lot if you just look under some decaying logs and flat rocks.


You can usually keep isopods at home for a short time if you provide them with a food source and adequate humidity. Note that isopods can also be useful for your dart frog’s habitat, as they will help eat some of the decaying organic material in the enclosure.

Isopods do not pose a great threat to the safety of your frogs. The most important thing to keep in mind is to avoid introducing large individuals into the habitat, as your frogs may try to eat them and end up suffocating.



Springtails are small invertebrates (no longer considered insects), which have a spring-shaped appendage near their tail that helps them jump. Springtails are small enough to be suitable for poison dart frogs, and they are also relatively easy to collect – they are found in the same types of places as isopods.

Springtails can also help keep the habitat of the dart frog clean, as they feed on decaying organic matter.


Termites are a very attractive food source for poison frogs, but it can be difficult to harvest them in significant numbers.


The best way to do this is by finding a small piece of rotten wood that is already infested with termites. You can then place the entire piece inside your frog’s enclosure, so they can eat as they please.

Termites don’t pose much of a threat to poison frogs and are a nutritious food source.

Size Of The Prey

It is vitally important that you provide your poison dart frog with feeding insects of the right size. If you don’t, your pets can become seriously ill; in some cases, they may even die. This is important with adult poison frogs but is even more important when caring for juveniles. To avoid such problems, offer your frogs insects that do not exceed the distance between their eyes.

However, it is also important to keep a close eye on poison dart frogs when feeding them. Make sure they appear to be acting normally and not under any pressure after eating. If they swell or become lethargic after eating, reduce the size of the insects provided immediately.

How To Feed Poison Dart Frogs

There are two basic ways to feed your poison dart frogs. You can simply dump an adequate number of insects in the vivarium and allow your frog to chase and consume them.

However, you can also use a small feeding dish and just place the insects inside. This is more practical with termites and isopods than fruit flies, and it can be tricky to find a dish that is deep enough to contain the insects, but shallow enough that your frog can easily catch them. .

However, this can be a useful strategy to ensure your frogs get enough to eat. It is especially useful with young poison dart frogs, which sometimes struggle to capture their prey.

Quantity And Frequency Of Feeding

Because they eat such small prey, it can be surprising to see how many insects a mature poison dart frog can eat at one time. Many frogs eat dozens of insects at once.

Start by offering adult poison frogs about two dozen fruit flies or crickets. If they consume all of these feeders, add a few more to the habitat. Do this until the frog loses interest in food.

You’ll want to feed the young poison frogs every day, but adults can thrive on four to five meals a week. And as long as your frogs are healthy and well-fed, the occasional fast of multi-days will not harm them.

Vitamin and mineral supplements

Many poison dart frog breeders regularly add commercially produced vitamin and mineral supplements to their frogs’ food. In theory, these supplements help correct dietary deficiencies and ensure that captive frogs get a balanced diet.

In practice, things are not so simple.

While some vitamins and minerals are unlikely to build up to toxic levels, others are very likely to cause problems if over-administered. This means that you cannot just supplement every meal, you must decide on a sensible supplementation program. Also, it can be difficult to determine exactly how much of the various vitamins and minerals you will provide for your frog, as most of these products are sold as fine powders, designed to be sprinkled on feeder insects.

This is not an accurate way to provide the proper dosage to your frog, and the possibility of overestimating or underestimating the amount of supplement administered is very real.

Because your frog’s age, sex, and health influence the amount of vitamins and minerals it needs, and each individual product has a unique composition, it is wise to consult your veterinarian before deciding on a supplementation program.

However, most caregivers provide vitamin supplements once a week and calcium supplements several times a week.