Play Andinobates claudiae Call
Account by Thomas Ostrowski
Known only from the Province of Bocas del Toro in Western Panama, close to the border of Costa Rica. Based on a photo taken near Manzanillo, it seems probable that the distribution extends to southeastern Costa Rica (Janzen, pers. comm.). Very common at the bigger islands of the Bocas del Toro Archipelago (Bastimentos, Colón and Popa) and the adjacent mainland on the Peninsula of Aguacate (type locality), but rarely found in the rest of the mainland. This is a lowland species found only at elevations from nearly sea level to 140 meters above sea level.
The very small species inhabits hot (27° – 28°) and humid (80 – 90 % rel.) primary and secondary forest and is somewhat terrestrial. They can be found only in the leaf litter and rarely up to 1 m above ground when transporting tadpoles to small pools in broken bamboo stalks or in leaves or axils of Araceae or Heliconia. The frogs are active during the whole day, but the the soft, cricket-like buzz call can be heard most frequently in the morning and afternoon. The females lay small clutches of 1 to 4 eggs which are carried by the male and deposited individually in small phytotelmata. Feeding behaviour has not been observed. Tadpoles are omnivorous and feed on algae and arthropod larvae. The tadpoles may also be commensalists and benefit from the egg-feeding behaviour of Oophaga pumilio. We often found more than one tadpole of A. claudiae together with tadpoles of O. pumilio in one pool, and all populations of A. claudiae, so far known, are sympatric with O. pumilio.
Listed as Data Deficient by IUCN. This species has a small range but populations seem to be stable. Andinobates claudiae is adapts well to secondary habitats, and in good habitats, the species reaches a high density (1-2 individuals per m2). The species has never been exported for the pet trade. However, some individuals have been exported in shipments from Panama to Europe under the name of “minutus”. Because of their tiny size and their hidden behaviour in terraria, this frog is not highly sought-after. Also because they are easy to breed in captivity, the demand of this species is small and therefore there is low risk of large-scale smuggling.
The pattern of A. claudiae resembles exactly the pattern of the sympatric and very poisonous species Phyllobates lugubris. It is possible that A. claudiae and juveniles of P. lugubris mimic each other in a system of Müllerian mimicry.
Andinobates claudiae is most closely related to A. minutus. With an SVL of only 13–15 mm, A. claudiae is one of the smallest known species of the Dendrobatidae.
JUNGFER, K.-H., S. LÖTTERS & JÖRGENS, D. (2000): Der kleinste Pfeilgiftfrosch – eine neue Dendrobates-Art aus West-Panama. – Herpetofauna 22 (129): 11-18.
OSTROWSKI, T. (2003): Dendrobates claudiae und Phyllobates lugubris – zwei Pfeilgiftfrösche aus Panama im gleichen Kleid. – Reptilia 8 (5): 72-75